|Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung greets members of the Raglay ethnic minority receiving water in Bac Ai District, one of the hardest-hit districts in Ninh Thuan Province. The PM instructed local officials not to let people go hungry or thirsty. — VNA/VNS Duc Anh
HA NOI (VNS) — Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has agreed to release additional funding for the central province of Ninh Thuan, which is struggling to deal with the impacts of drought.
In a working session with provincial authorities yesterday he urged timely help in the provision of food and water for particularly hard-hit residents.
He was told that since the 2014 summer-autumn crop, most local areas have experienced dried El Nino impacts. Nearly 4,000 households in six districts were facing water shortages.
Farmers have halted sowing on 6,100ha of the winter-spring crop—or 30.27 per cent of the total area, around 300 heads of cattle have died, and several poor and ethnic minority areas are facing hunger and the risks of epidemics, the PM heard.
The Government has provided 300 tonnes of rice and VND40 billion (US$1.9 million) towards the purchase of water, food and new saplings for affected families.
The drought is forecast to last through mid-September.
Expressing concern over lingering drought in the central and Central Highlands, the PM asked Ninh Thuan to continue assisting residents in minimising losses.
He asked local authorities to be on alert against forest fires and asked them to co-ordinate closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in recovering production after the drought.
Provincial officials sought more Government support in accelerating construction of the Tan My water reservoir and launching similar projects this year.
The PM noted that Ninh Thuan boasts a large area with high levels of wind and sun, favourable conditions for livestock breeding, fruit cultivation and industrial tree plantations.
Earlier, he made a field trip to a mobile water supply site in Dong Day village, Phuc Trung commune, Bac Ai district, one of the hardest hit by the dry season.
Ninh Thuan is facing a severe shortage of water for daily use, according to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
It said Bac Ai District's Phuoc Trung Commune, Ninh Son District's Nhon Son and My Son communes, Ninh Hai District's Nhon Hai and Vinh Hai communes were the hardest hit.
Most wells in these areas have dried up because the province has received no rain this year. In Phuoc Trung, more than 1,000 people have been buying water daily for many months.
Provincial authorities have said farmers were unable to plant rice and other winter-spring crops on more than 6,100ha because of the drought.
Around 40ha of rice have been destroyed and 135ha of cash crops have experienced lower yields, including 77ha of fruits where yields were down by half. More than 350 buffaloes, cows, goats, and sheep have died because of water shortage.
The drought has caused damages worth round VND140 billion (US$6.6 million) to agriculture.
The shortage of water and food is expected to affect around 150,000 animals, mostly sheep, goats, and cows, in the coming months, local officials said.
According to the South-central Region Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, the drought is likely to last until mid-September.
Water levels in reservoirs are very low, falling to around 19 per cent of their capacity.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has instructed the Rural Environment Sanitation and Clean Water Centre to operate all 43 water supply systems at full capacity to supply to rural areas.
In the worst affected areas, people have dug more than 25 wells on dry stream beds to try and get water for their animals. Many have moved their livestock to sites near canals, rivers and springs.
In the coastal districts of Ninh Hai and Ninh Phuoc, people have dug 80 wells and ponds.
Amidst all this, authorities have called on farmers to grow the upcoming summer-autumn crop on schedule. — VNS