Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cường
Nguyễn Xuân Cường, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, spoke to the newspaper Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) on the country’s readiness to minimise losses in the event of natural disasters.
How do you respond to the recent abnormal weather in Việt Nam?
In early 2020, hail storms were reported in many localities in the northern region. It has been reported that since the beginning of the year, northern provinces have been hit by 92 hail storms and three flash floods and landslides and an earthquake in June that registered 4.9 in Mường Tè District, Lai Châu Province.
According to the latest report, 19 people have been killed, 79 others injured, 1,618 houses have been damaged in northern mountainous provinces and some 10,000ha of rice fields and subsidiary crops have been destroyed.
It is reported that since early 2020, some 280 serious natural weather incidents have been reported in Việt Nam and 48 people have been killed or missing. Total losses caused VNĐ3.5 billion (US$148 million) of damage. In 2019 alone, Việt Nam was hit by 222 storms, 10 flash floods, 13 earthquakes and other natural disasters.
Do you have any comments on the National Weather Bureau prediction that in the upcoming months Việt Nam will be hit by many more serious natural incidents?
The climate pattern La Nina is likely to reach Việt Nam. As a result, temperature in winter will be lower than in previous years. Some regions in the north might see very low temperatures. Meanwhile, in the central and southern regions, the weather will become much more worse than in the past.
According to the National Weather Bureau, from now until the end of the year, between nine and 11 storms will operate in the East Sea, of which five or six storms will hit Việt Nam. Coupled by that, the phenomena of La Nina will cause heavy rain and landslides posing a big threat to the lives of many people.
What is the role of our dyke system in storms and flood control?
Việt Nam now has a total of 9.078km of river and sea dykes, plus 31,191km of dykes in the Mekong Delta. However, in reality, our current dyke systems have been degraded. According to the weather bureau, if the rain this year is as heavy as in 2008 in Hà Nội, 2015 in the north east region or 2017 in the central region, it is likely that major floods will become a serious threat to our weak dyke systems.
Big reservoirs have been considered as major flood threats to many people. What should we do to avoid risks caused by both natural disasters and human acts?
As we all know, energy security is very important for Việt Nam. Hydro power plants are an important source for electricity. However, in the context of the extreme weather, we have to develop various scenarios to make sure that all reservoirs to run the hydro power plants must be safe, particularly in the rainy season.
By now, all the reservoirs in the region have been well controlled. Yet, for the small and medium reservoirs, they have not received due care, particularly those located next to residential areas in hilly areas.
What should we do to avoid big catastrophes which have occurred in some other countries?
Natural disasters have become very extreme and unpredictable. That’s why we have to be pro-active with such an extreme weather.
It is reported that from July 27-29, there were 16 minor earthquakes recorded in the north-western region – the biggest one was measured at a magnitude of 5.3 in Sơn La Province on July 27.
Trần Quang Khải, deputy director of the Central Steering Committee on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control has warned that in early August, heavy rain will occur in the northern region, north central region and the south eastern region. He calls on people in these regions to be pro-active against the earthquakes, heavy rain and floods. — VNS