Vietnam’s rice granary endangered by water shortage

Last update 10:54 | 20/06/2017

VietNamNet Bridge – The weaker water flow towards the downstream Mekong River has caused drought in  The Mekong Delta, affecting the livelihood of millions of people in the area.

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The rains in June 2017 helped cool down the land in the Delta. The Central Hydrometeorological Forecast Center said the floods this year may be a little higher than previous years.

This is a great opportunity for locals to store water in the context of big changes in the Mekong water flow due to water exploitation in the upper course by hydropower plants and water diversion projects.

Both farmers and scientists are concerned about the development of Mekong Delta, the rice granary of the country, amid attempts to change the current of the river.

According to Nguyen Nhan Quang, a river basin management expert, Thailand has had 990 more projects in the northeast on using Mekong’s water to serve irrigation in the area.

Both farmers and scientists are concerned about the development of Mekong Delta, the rice granary of the country, amid attempts to change the current of the river.

In Cambodia, the strategy on stepping up rice cultivation for export is being implemented, with the country seeking cooperation with foreign countries, mostly from China, to expand the irrigation network.

In Laos, the current total irrigation area is 166,476 hectares, but the figure is expected to increase by 213,062 hectares by 2030.

As upstream countries try to expand water use, this will be a great challenge for Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.

Fresh water is a valuable resource, compared with ‘white gold’. It is needed for daily life, food production, industrial production and other purposes.

Le Anh Tuan from Can Tho University cited international research as reporting that  hydropower dams will change the current in the lower course and lead to a loss of tens of millions of tons of alluvium.

Therefore, the Mekong Delta needs to take the initiative in storing water for reasonable use in dry season.

The development of agriculture production in Mekong Delta depends heavily on investment policies on irrigation.

The weak point of interior-field irrigation is the lack of support systems such as pump stations and canals. Scientists have emphasized solutions of storing and saving water.

Nguyen Van Dong, director of the Hau Giang provincial agriculture department, said the province is taking full advantage of major tributaries to store water.

When drought and saline intrusion come, the stored water will serve people’s daily life and agricultural production.

Scientists warn that Mekong Delta should get ready to prepare to fight against floods, which not only come from nature, but also from hydropower plants. It is necessary to build a strategy on ‘living together with floods’.

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Kim Chi

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