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Mekong Delta must be kept safe from floods

Update: February, 15/2016 - 10:23

Vu Xuan Thien, Deputy Head of the Construction Department for Housing and Real Estate Market Management under the Ministry of Construction (MOC), spoke to Viet Nam News Agency about the national programme to make residential areas safe from flooding in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.

The Prime Minister has recently agreed to extend the 10-year National Programme on the Construction of Anti-Flooding Residential Clusters in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta by another five years. Would you please update us on the current situation of this programme?

The MOC has instructed all localities under the project to review and revise the list of anti-flooding residential clusters in the second phase of the programme (2016-2020). It is reported that in the second phase, there are 128 projects.

Right from the start of the second phase, the MOC had already organised an inter-ministerial mission with participants from the MOC, the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), the Ministry of Finance (MOF), the Office of the National Programme on Social Housing and the Viet Nam Development Bank to conduct an inspection visit to the five Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces of Tien Giang, Vinh Long, Dong Thap, An Giang and Can Tho two months ago.

Based on the report submitted by the mission, the MOC will write a proposal on the mechanism and budget for the second phase of the National Programme on the Construction of Anti-Flooding Residential Clusters in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.

The proposal is scheduled to be on Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's table for approval sometime in the first quarter of 2016.

It is unquestionable that living conditions in residential areas that are safe from flooding will be better than their old homes, so why don't many want to move there?

That's not right. According to the latest report, 982 projects in the first 10 years have been completed, and 190,831 households have already relocated. In other words, we have achieved 94.1 per cent of the target.

People living in the new residential areas are safe from floods and are very happy with good technical and social infrastructure systems, including nurseries, kindergartens and schools. Healthcare facilities are available with good services. In my opinion, this is a success of the programme.

Will you please further elaborate on the Government's plan to give more support to people living in these new residential areas to stabilise their lives?

Beneficiaries of the programme have received two support payments from two other sources in addition to the Government support. They are able to access preferential loans from the Viet Nam Bank for Development to buy land to build their houses with no interest rate as well as loans from the Bank for Social Policies to build their houses with an interest rate of 3 per cent per annum.

More recently, the Bank for Social Policy has agreed to extend the debt maturity for poor and nearly poor households to another five years.

In your opinion, what specific measures will help to ensure the programme's success?

We all agree that the programme has provided a stable life to residents in residential areas that are safe from floods. However, due to living in a new environment with land limitations, many families will face difficulties in land development.

To solve this problem, we have conducted studies on the development of mechanisms and policies to encourage different economic sectors to get involved in industrial and handicraft production development to generate more jobs for people living in the new residential areas. Meanwhile, local authorities should be proactive in integrating various funds available in their localities to construct new social infrastructure projects, like schools, primary healthcare centres, markets and other facilities to serve their own people and people from other neighborhoods.­ — VNS

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