People in the south-central Vietnamese province of Ninh Thuan are suffering from water scarcity brought about by severe drought, and it is only the beginning of the dry season.
Drought is taking its toll on the lives and production of local farmers as their crops and cattle are struggling to survive the harsh climate.
Due to the combine effects of limited rainfall in late 2017 and harsh weather over the past month, reservoirs in the province are drying up, leaving little to no water resources for plants and animals.
Dong Day and Tham Du Villages in Phuoc Trung Commune, Bac Ai District, are in the center of the drought.
Only a few puddles of water remain in the Phuoc Nhon Lake, which plays a crucial role in the two localities.
Local residents are forced to dig their own ponds to find fresh water, which does not always guarantee success.
Starving herds of cows and sheep are a common scene here as there are barely any grass and drinking water for them.
In Nhon Hai Commune, Ninh Hai District, locals have been able to ride their motorcycles across the Ong Kinh Lake having dried up.
Farmers have been driving their cattle to the bottom of the lake to look for the very last drops of water.
According to Nguyen Huu Moc, a local resident, the lake dried up about a month ago.
Moc has been digging ponds and drilling wells in order to fine water for his grape garden.
Sheep farmers in Ninh Thuan are taking all kinds of measures to save their animals from dying due to the lack of water.
Kato Thi Ninh, a local farmer, said she had to transport fresh water over a five-kilometer journey to feed her sheep on a daily basis.
Five of Ninh’s sheep have recently died.
About 20 sheep in the herd of Nguyen Thi Thuan in Dong Day Village have also been killed by the extreme conditions.
Tran Cao Hoa, another farmer, stated he had to keep a close watch on his herd of about 1,000 sheep every day.
Hoa has lost nearly 100 of his animals.
Dao Thi Hang, who works for Hoa, said she had to pour water into baby bottles and feed them to the weaker sheep, or they would not survive.
Surviving the drought
Because of the water shortage, Le Thi Hong had to abandon her paddy field and hunt for crabs and shells among water puddles in Phuoc Nhon Lake every day to provide for her family.
“I work from the early morning until noon, earning about VND100,000 [$4.4] daily from selling crabs and shells,” Hong elaborated.
Meanwhile, Chamaléa Thi Xuat goes to many places to buy straw for her herd of cows.
She has to fold the straw into rolls and push them back home, under the burning heat.
“The cows come first. If they die, my family will die as well,” Xuat asserted.
According to Bach Van Duong, head of the office of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, a team of officials were tasked with examining the situation on Friday morning.
The department is now preparing necessary measures to deal with drought across the province, Duong stated.