Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – The Government of Việt Nam, the United Nations and partners are appealing to the international community to support a US$48.5 million emergency response plan launched yesterday to address the worsening drought in the country.
The drought that has hit the southern and central regions of Việt Nam has created water shortages for about two million people, and 1.1 million people are in need of food aid, according to a joint rapid assessment undertaken by the Government, UN and non-governmental organisations last month.
More than 60,000 women and children are already malnourished, and about 1,75 million people have lost their livelihoods as the drought worsens.
In the Mekong Delta, prolonged drought and the decrease in groundwater levels have resulted in the most extensive saltwater intrusion in 90 years, affecting more than 400,000ha of crops with varying degrees of productivity loss. Another 25,900 hectares have not been planted at all.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Đức Phát spoke at the emergency response plan launch, saying that this was the first time Việt Nam had called on international aid to respond to the crisis.
He said that donors and international partners had committed US$7.34 for Việt Nam in response to the impacts of climate change, including US$4 million from the UN, US$3 million from the Asian Development Bank, and $50,000 from both the US and New Zealand. Australia and Switzerland are considering providing aid.
Phát informed participants that China was releasing more water from its dam between April 21 and May 31, with about 1,500 cubic metres per second flowing south. It was expected that the extra water would arrive in Việt Nam in 20 days, partly helping to relieve its thirst.
Since late 2015, Việt Nam’s Government has provided 5,223 tonnes of relief food to drought-hit provinces and has allocated over VNĐ1 trillion (US$45 million) for national drought relief efforts. Two million cubic metres of water has been delivered by trucks and 630,000 doses of Chloramine B and 400,000 Aquatabs delivered to water-insecure households.
In the middle of last month, Việt Nam requested assistance from partners, prioritizing support to ensure water supply, storage and treatment, food security and enhanced monitoring of potential disease outbreaks.
The UN Resident Coordinator Pratibha Mehta said that they looked forward to working with the Government to help meet the most immediate needs of those worst affected.
The current El Niño event is one of the strongest on record, affecting an estimated 60 million people across Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Pacific. Its impact and the possibility of a severe La Niña to follow are likely to worsen the lives and livelihoods of millions world-wide until at least the end of this year.
A global call for support and action for 22 affected countries was also announced yesterday in Geneva. -- VNS