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UN Deputy Secretary-General visits drought-hit province in Vietnam

Thursday, May 05, 2016, 17:36 GMT+7

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson paid a visit to Ben Tre Province in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta on Thursday morning to witness the effects of drought and salinization on local residents.

Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson, along with Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat and leaders of Ben Tre, examined the situation in Ba Tri District in the drought-hit province, as part of his visit to the Southeast Asian country from May 3 to 6.

The official visited 55-year-old Nguyen Thi Nuong and measured the salinity of the canal in front of her house, which is the main source of fresh water for Nuong and hundreds of households in the locality.

During a conversation with the Deputy Secretary-General, Nuong said this year’s severe drought and salinization have ravaged all of her crops, resulting in her running out of money and being unable to afford clean water.

The Vietnamese woman intended to have her son drop out of school to work with her in order to earn a living.

Eliasson also got updated on the difficulties other locals in the drought-hit areas have been facing, promising on behalf of the United Nations that he would provide the residents with support to help alleviate the problems.

The official stated that he would talk about the situation in the Vietnamese province at the upcoming seminar on climate change in order to call for assistance from the international community.


United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson (R) and Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat check the salinity of the water at the Bao Thuan water factory. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The Vietnamese residents are not alone, the Deputy Secretary-General asserted, adding that the United Nations will cooperate with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and local authorities to figure out solutions.

He believed that the Vietnamese people will eventually overcome this obstacle.

Eliasson and other officials also visited the Bao Thuan water factory, the primary provider of fresh water for local residents, and tasted the water there.

The water source at the factory, which has been affected by serious salinization, reminded the official of the salt water he often used to clean his throat each morning, Eliasson joked.

According to Minister Phat, the salinity of the water source at the facility was considerably high, causing the water to be saltier than that sold at pharmacies.

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