Delta riverbank erosion casts poor families out of homes
AN GIANG — Hundreds of families living along eroded river banks in the Mekong Delta Province of An Giang are too poor to build houses and move to safer areas, while authorities are unable to provide all of them with "resettlement" houses immediately.
At three such spots along the Hau River in Long Xuyen city and the Tien River in Phu Tan District, 183 families with more than 1,100 members have either lost their houses or live in highly vulnerable areas, and have to be relocated.
Most of them live with relatives or public places like schools. Some have to rent houses.
Most are manual labourers and poor, so losing their houses makes their lives harder, local authorities say.
While buying their own land and building houses is out of the question for them, even at resettlement areas they usually have to pay a part of the land and house foundation costs except under certain programmes.
Vo Van Thinh, who now lives in a tent on his neighbour's land in Binh Khanh Ward in Long Xuyen, said: "My family has seven members and we have to live in the rickety tent in poor living conditions. But we have to endure it because we have no choice."
Tran Kim Loan, deputy chairwoman of the Long Xuyen People's Committee, said 97 families in the city have been moved out of hazardous areas and require new houses.
"But the city cannot yet provide them house foundations, so they have to live with relatives or in temporary dwellings," she said.
Authorities are building two resettlement areas in the city – and hope to complete them by the end of September – but most house foundations there are meant for other beneficiaries.
Of the 97 families, the city is giving priority to those that lost their house and land to the erosion, Loan said.
The others had to wait for the construction of new resettlement areas, she said.
The An Giang Province People's Committee has instructed Long Xuyen authorities to develop a 10-ha resettlement area in the city's Binh Duc ward.
This is expected to accommodate everyone affected by the erosion, but take two to three years for completion.
The Long Xuyen People's Committee would try to complete the work at the earliest, Loan promised. — VNS