Climate Change: Mekong Delta heads for troubled waters

20 October 2015

The endless green fields scored by the river’s nine tributaries, which the Vietnamese call “Nine Dragons”, explain why this area is one of the world’s major food baskets. It houses the richest inland fishery and accounts for more than a fifth of the world’s rice exports, although looks can be deceptive.

Encroaching sea water from the south, a proliferation of hydro dams in the north and large-scale sand mining are endangering the delta, officials warn. As a result, an alarming 500 hectares (5 km2) of land is being lost to soil erosion every year, they say.

“The sea level rise is bringing up water so fast that our defences against it have failed,” said Ky Quang Vinh, director of the Climate Change Coordination Office, a government agency in Vietnam’s Can Tho, the most populous city in Mekong.

“We’ve stopped growing mangrove trees on the coast because they only grow if the sea level rise stays below 1.6mm (0.06in) a year, and our work shows that in Vietnam it’s going up by 5mm (0.2in).”

“Several of our sea dykes have collapsed too.”

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