June, 11 2012 10:23:00

Stilt houses in southern Ca Mau help cope with climate change

CA MAU — Residents are building stilt houses to adapt to rising sea levels in southernmost Ca Mau Province's Ngoc Hien District.

Chairman of the district People's Committee Nguyen Truong Giang said the province was below sea level and its 254-km coastline and 800km of river and canal lengths were the most threatened by climate change in the country.

"In the last five years, the sea level has risen higher and higher in this district, and only the old style houses with stilts were unaffected by the problem," Giang said.

Stilt houses suited the conditions and also the tight economics in Ngoc Hien District where the rate of poor households ranked as one of the highest in the country, Giang said.

A stilt house cost VND20-50 million (US$950-1,900) and stands on 1-1.5m piles made from mangrove timber. It helps people avoid the moisture of coastal salt water, especially at high tide.

Tran Van Phung, in Dat Mui Village, said such houses cost less because timber from mangrove trees was cheap and the homes did not have much furniture, such as beds, chairs and tables.

The houses lasted about 10 years and could withstand 1-m sea levels, said Phung adding in the past, traditional houses went under 20cm of water.

In the last five years, Ngoc Hien authorities had helped 1,200 poor households build the houses. Most offices, companies and residential houses were also built on stilts.

However, Giang warned that stilt houses could only adapt to rises in sea level, not strong storms. The district banned people from building their houses near the sea and encouraged those who had houses there to move to safer areas.

Along coastal rivers there were thousands of vulnerable households facing high tides regularly.

Apart from stilt houses, Ngoc Hien District was asking for money to build sea dykes to mitigate further climate change impacts. — VNS

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