Alarming Levels of Drought and Floods Take their Toll on Vietnam Way of Life

Mekong Delta drought Source: dtinews.vn

The Vietnamese government acknowledged that the country needs to be better prepared to cope with natural disasters, which have become more fierce and unpredictable in recent years. The statement was conveyed by Vietnam deputy head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s General Irrigation Department Tran Quang Hoai at a conference on preventing natural disasters hosted at the end of May in Hanoi.

Hoai said that Vietnam has built legal policies and improved facilities to prevent natural disasters and overcome their consequences. However, natural disasters have become more complicated and hard to predict. This showed that the nation’s current preparation work was no longer as effective.

In the future, Vietnam is likely to face new types of disasters such as Probable Maximum Floods, floods resulting from a combination of severe meteorological and hydrologic conditions in a limited geographic location while long-lasting drought could also affect landscapes and ways of life in the country.

The Mekong Delta region has been one of the most exposed in the country by the changing nature of disasters. The region was previously flood-hit, but flooding did not occur last year and the recent drought and saline intrusion were reportedly the worst in the past 90 years, explained Hoai. This of course has also an effect on tourism as it makes travel to those areas more unpredictable while centuries-old landscapes are threatened of disappearing.

The Mekong Delta is considered under threat. Water flows along the Mekong River were down dramatically tijos year, permitting greater saltwater intrusion than usual. They affected farming, production and people’s lives as hundreds of thousands of hectares of rice and fruit suffered damage.

Authorised agencies must now prepare for drought and salinity, as well as flooding. Droughts may be fiercer in the future due to countries from the upstream of Mekong river demand for water. Hoai said the country must build better facilities and improve human resources and forecasting activities. “Improving forecasting is very important as it will help us prepare for disasters,” he said.

Two major river systems run through downstream through the country which could make Vietnam more vulnerable in case of natural catastrophes. The country is actively cooperating with other neighbouring nations within the Mekong River Commission to mitigate the effects of climate changes and industry and infrastructure development along the river.

Hoai added that it was necessary to prepare essential equipment when natural disasters occurred, especially in 19 coastal cities and provinces. The safety of dams, dykes and other kinds of preventive works should be supervised, and the safety of fishermen should be assured. The deputy head mentioned particularly problems with dykes in big cities, which needed to be solved as they seriously affected the cities’ flood protection.

Figures from the National Steering Committee for Flood Prevention and Control showed that more than 150 people were killed and 127 injured due to natural disasters in 2015. Over 1,240 houses were collapsed, 35,230 others were unroofed, 445,110 hectares of crops were submerged, causing the losses of VNĐ8.1 trillion (US$3.6 billion) in 2015. Recognizing the threat to economic development, the government has made addressing the impacts of climate change a key priority since 2008.

Source: VN Economic Times