Mekong Delta faces worst drought, saltwater intrusion

Ho Chi Minh City, Feb 19 (IANS) Parts of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam have been experiencing the most serious drought and saltwater encroachment in the past for nearly 100 years, the media reported on Friday.

The ongoing drought and saltwater intrusion has seriously damaged rice and fruit tree-growing areas, forests, agriculture and animal husbandry, as well as freshwater shortages in many southern cities and provinces, Xinhua news agency reported citing the Tien Phong daily.

The drought and saltwater encroachment have damaged many rice fields, causing losses worth some 1,000 billion Vietnamese dong ($44 million), said Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat.

Kien Giang province has erected 82 small dykes with total investment of nearly 20 billion Vietnamese dong to prevent further saltwater intrusion, but saltwater still has encroached on rice fields, destroying over 30,000 hectares.

The province currently needs more capital to build 27 bigger dykes.

The Southern Irrigation Science Institute forecast that all localities in the Mekong Delta, excluding Can Tho City, An Giang and Dong Thap province, will have suffered saltwater encroachment this year.

The delta needs some $4 billion to effectively deal with the drought and saltwater encroachment, the minister added.

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