Mekong Delta provinces receive support to combat drought, saltwater intrusion

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In the past days, the situation of drought and saltwater intrusion in the Mekong Delta provinces was extremely severe, affecting seriously the life and daily activities of local people.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), the situation of drought and saltwater intrusion occurred widely, spreading from the North, Central, the Central Highlands to the Mekong Delta. The rainfall and upstream water flow declined so saltwater intrusion occurred since December last year, earlier and deeper compared to the average level of several years. In some places, the saltwater intrusion was equal or deeper than that in the same period in 2016.

According to the forecast, in the months to come, drought, water shortage, and saltwater intrusion in provinces in the Mekong Delta provinces will prolong and develop complicatedly and unpredictably. In the long run, due to impacts of climate change, sea-level rise, and increasing daily demand for water, especially increasing exploitation and use of water in the upstream areas, the risk of drought, water shortage, and saltwater intrusion might occur more frequently and intensely. 

To actively prevent drought, water shortage, and saltwater intrusion to ensure water supply for production, especially for the daily life of people in the future, the ministry asked the People’s committees of provinces in the Mekong Delta to zealously carry out measures under the direction of the Prime Minister. Provinces and cities in the Mekong Delta continue to monitor closely and update constantly warning messages and forecasts on meteorological and hydrological changes, drought, water shortage, and saltwater intrusion by the ministry to take the initiative in implementing production plans, carrying out measures to prevent drought, water shortage, and saltwater intrusion, in which, the highest priority is to ensure water supply for daily needs of people. Provinces are instructed to research and use effectively documents and results of the searching program for groundwater sources, observation data, forecasts and warnings on water resources that have been transferred to provinces by the ministry, especially ensuring water supply for people in areas where a serious shortage of water is occurring. 

According to Minister Tran Hong Ha of the MoNRE, to support Mekong Delta provinces to deal with water supply for the fight against drought and saltwater intrusion, the ministry formed a task force to assist provinces in searching for the sources of freshwater to provide technical assistance, human resources, and equipment. The People’s committees of provinces in the Mekong Delta are asked to review, assess, and suggest the areas where people are suffering a shortage of water that need urgent priority for the ministry to set up water supply stations to timely serve the needs for water of people. At the same time, borehole waterworks are transferred to water suppliers for them to invest and build them into concentrated water supply works. 

Moreover, the ministry also provided five provinces in the Mekong Delta which have announced the state of emergency on drought and saltwater intrusion, including Long An, Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Kien Giang, and Ca Mau, with VND800 million each via the Vietnam Environment Protection Fund.

In related news, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has recently signed the Decision No.504/QD-TTg on financial aid for the prevention and fight against drought, water shortage, and saltwater intrusion in the Mekong Delta.

Accordingly, the Government supports VND530 billion from the central budget reserve in 2020 for eight provinces in the Mekong Delta, namely Ben Tre, Long An, Tien Giang, Ca Mau, Kien Giang, Soc Trang, Tra Vinh, and Bac Lieu, to carry out measures, such as water pumping, canal dredging, and dam building.

The PM ordered provinces to use the financial package, provincial budget, and other legal financial sources to implement promptly emergency measures to combat drought, water shortage, and saltwater intrusion, ensuring regulatory compliance, proper purposes, efficiency, publicity, and transparency.

By Ha Van, Lam Nguyen – Translated by Bao Nghi

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