Drought and saltwater intrusion in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta are expected to reach record highs over the next few months.
Vietnam’s ‘rice basket’ will likely suffer from severe drought and saltwater intrusion from late December 2019 through February 2020, Nguyen Hoang Hiep, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, stated, adding that “the situation will be more devastating than both 2015 and 2016 when the region was hit by historic droughts.”
Reports from local authorities showed that the devastation will affect about 200,000 hectares of rice paddies.
Approximately 80,000 hectares of fruit trees will also be affected by the rise in salinity, the damage from which may take five to ten years to fully repair.
Though damage is expected to be mitigated by irrigation systems and sluice gates that have been built over the past three years, authorities in Mekong Delta provinces are also preparing to enact measures that will help protect water resources and ensure clean water for local residents.
According to Nguyen Kiet, an official from the southern hydro-meteorological station, the rainy season in southern Vietnam ended early this year, a situation which is expected to worsen saltwater intrusion in the region, particularly in the Mekong Delta.
Saltwater has already struck considerable sections of the Vam Co, Tien (Front), Cua Dai, Ham Luong, Co Chien, and Ba Lai Rivers, Kiet continued.
The situation will increase in severity as water levels in these rivers lower over the next few months until stabilizing from March to June 2020, the weather expert elaborated.
Kiet advised local authorities and residents to keep themselves informed in order to promptly cope with unexpected issues.