Drought hits Red River

Red River Delta provinces have suffered from drought during the dry season, causing around 40,000 hectares, out of 50,000, of winter-spring rice lacking sufficient water, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on March 30.

A floating house on the dry Red River

Much rice cultivation in the north of the country was worst affected, such as Ha Noi, Phu Tho, Ninh Binh and Lang Son provinces.

Many places have not had enough fresh water, as it has not rained since February, with locals in Lang Son and Lao Cai provinces having to travel up to five kilometers to buy drinking water.

If it does not rain by mid-April, rice farming will be severely affected.

Tran Ai Quoc, a senior official from the Irrigation Agency, said the water level in parts of the Red River in Hanoi during the last three days has been 0.92m, the lowest level in the past 50 years.

With such low levels of water, only boats weighing less than 200 tons can travel on the river.

To reduce boats becoming stranded on the river bed warning signs for boats over 200 tones have been put up.

According to Le Van Luong, Director of the River-way Traffic Management JS Co., each day 300 to 400 boats travel on the Red River.

With many locals in the North facing water shortages, they are taking water from the Red River to irrigate fields, but water upstream has not replenished the river, adding to the already low water levels.

Nguyen Lan Chau, deputy director of the Central Hydrometeorology Forecast Center, on March 30 forecasted water levels will rise over the coming days, perhaps to 1.9-2 meters, as hydroelectric plants release water into the river.

It recently rained but did not provide sufficient water for fields. Locals are now pinning their hopes on the water form the hydroelectric plants.

The Ministry said to ensure supplies, the Ministry will ask Vietnam Electricity to release water from the three rivers of Tuyen Quang, Thac Ba and Hoa Binh.

The drought is expected to last until heavy rains arrive in May of this year, Mr Chau said.

By Phuc Hau, translated by Thanh Huong

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