How climate change is already disrupting lives in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta

The Ecologist

Climate change its causing flooding and droughts that damage agricultural land in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. The “rice bowl” of Asia produces 57 percent of rice production for the country – including 80 percent of its exports.

Farmers in the tropical southern region of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta today continue to build dams around their fields to protect the land from severe weather. Fearing a major drought or flood – both of which have destroyed swathes of crops in recent years across provinces such as Bến Tre and Sóc Trăng – they are hoping these new barriers will stop saltwater from seeping into the soil, rendering it infertile.

Rising sea levels and global temperature increases are causing dramatic droughts and floods in the Mekong region, which are hitting families hard.

“In my hometown, local people don’t use the national water source,” explains Tan Hung, who is from the coastal province of Bến Tre.

Like many people in the Mekong Delta, Tan’s family use underground pumps to source fresh water for day-to-day use. But when a severe drought hits, it reduces river levels and allows salty seawater to push inland.

“When this happens the local people lack the ability to take a shower or even cook because the river water they usually use has reduced,” Tan explains.

The saline intrusion not only reduces the amount of fresh water available to the local people but it penetrates their soil and eventually cripples their crops.

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