Mekong Delta faces increasing erosion

April 20, 2023 - 08:39
The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta is facing increasing erosion, but local authorities are making efforts to mitigate the damage it could cause to agriculture and thus the lives of people.
An eroded river bank that has affected a rural road in Sóc Trăng Province’s Kế Sách District has been repaired to restore transport. – VNA/VNS Photo Tuấn Phi

HCM CITY – The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta is experiencing increasing erosion, but local authorities are taking steps to mitigate the damage to agriculture and thus to people's lives.

In the upstream area of the Tiền River, a tributary of the Mekong, in Tiền Giang Province, erosion has occurred at many places along the Trà Lọt and Rạch Ruộng rivers and 28 and Nguyễn Văn Tiếp canals in Cái Bè District.

In early March a 50m section was completely eroded on the Trà Lọt’s eastern bank, blocking a road in Hoà Khánh Commune.

Võ Văn Dân, an official in the local Hòa Qui hamlet, said erosion is severe in four spots and extends a total length of 300 metres.

It has damaged farmlands, transport infrastructure and power lines and affected people’s lives and agriculture, he said.

It also poses a threat to people’s safety, especially when low-lying areas are inundated during high tide, he said.

Cái Bè has suffered a total of 2.1km of erosion in 62 places, and requires more than VNĐ27.7 billion (US$1.2 million) for repairs, according to its Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development.

In Cần Thơ City, there have been two cases of erosion this year.

One was along the Ô Môn River in Thới Lai District where a section of land 26 metres in length and 12 metres in width was washed away, causing losses of VNĐ800 million ($34,100).

The other, 25 metres in length and three metres in width, was along the Thạnh Đông Canal in Cái Răng District’s Phú Thứ Ward.

In Trà Vinh Province, the People’s Committee declared an erosion emergency on Nhạn Riverine Island in Duyên Hải District last month.

Trần Trường Giang, director of the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the island has lost 220ha of land since 2015.

High tides and waves have caused erosion, inundated 11 houses and damaged 6.5ha of vegetables in recent months, he said.

Erosion is threatening the safety of 166 households with nearly 500 people on the island, and 56 of the households need to be relocated immediately, he said.

In Bến Tre Province, there are 112 erosion spots along rivers, canals and coastal areas with 138km affected, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The province loses 120ha of land and 100ha protective forests along coastal areas to erosion each year.

The worst cases are in Bình Đại, Chợ Lách and Mỏ Cày Nam districts.

Erosion in the delta is caused by natural as well as human factors such as sand mining and illegal construction of houses and other structure along the banks of rivers and canals, according to experts.

Solving problem

To mitigate the increasing erosion, authorities in the delta, which comprises Cần Thơ and 12 provinces, are taking measures like building embankments.

Nguyễn Văn Vĩnh, chairman of the Tiền Giang Province People’s Committee, said five erosion prevention projects are being built at a cost of VNĐ305 billion ($13 million) to prevent erosion along a total length of 3.1km in 2022-23.

The province has asked the Government for funds for more erosion prevention projects in Cái Bè, Cai Lậy and Chợ Gạo districts and Mỹ Tho City.

Last month Bến Tre started building a 20.7km embankment in Tam Hiệp riverine island in Bình Đại District.

It will cost VNĐ325.6 billion ($13.9 million) and protect 700ha of farmlands and 3,271 people when completed next year.

Besides building preventive works, the delta’s coastal provinces like Sóc Trăng, Bến Tre and Trà Vinh provinces have also focused on growing mangrove forests to check erosion.

Bến Tre plans to grow 171ha of new forests, mostly mangrove, this year, and Trà Vinh targets planting 800ha of mangrove in 2021- 25.

Trà Vinh has decided to build a resettlement area to relocate 75 households in an eroded area in Trà Cú District’s Định An Commune.

It will cost VNĐ22 billion ($940,000) and is expected to be finished this year. – VNS