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Erosion-prevention measures urgently needed in Mekong Delta

Update: April, 11/2019 - 08:59

CÀ MAU – The Mekong Delta needs sustainable measures and sufficient financial resources to mitigate serious erosion along rivers and coastal areas, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hà Công Tuấn, has said.

 

Houses collapse into a river in Mỹ Hoà Ward, Long Xuyên City in Mekong Delta province of An Giang due to a landslide. — VNA/VNS Photo Công Mạo

Speaking at a seminar held in Cà Mau Province on Tuesday (April 9), Tuấn said that erosion in the delta had worsened in recent years because of climate change and human activities.

Experts have predicted that parts of the delta will be submerged under water in 50 years, but if sand mining and underground water exploitation are not managed well, this could occur even sooner.

To prevent erosion, water resources need to be more properly used, forests must be replanted and alluvial land should be created, experts said.

The delta, the country’s largest rice, fruit and seafood producer, has a population of more than 20 million. With a coastal line of 770km and a dense river and canal network, it has 526 erosion sites along rivers and coastal areas, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

Of the figure, 57 sites, with a total length of 164 km, are at a dangerous erosion level.

The amount of silt in the Mekong River flowing into the delta next year is expected to fall by 60 - 65 per cent compared to last year, according to the ministry.  

With the construction of dams in the upper area of the Mekong River, the amount of silt by 2040 will be only 3-5 per cent of the silt amount that exists now, worsening erosion, the ministry said.

Đỗ Đức Dũng, head of the Institute of Water Resources Planning, said that construction measures and replanting of forests along coastal areas should be done to protect sea dykes.

From 1973 to 2013, the delta lost about 15,000ha of land to erosion and added 30,300ha of new land created from silt deposits along coastal areas, he said.

However, erosion has increased rapidly in recent years. Cà Mau and Tiền Giang provinces have large eroded areas in the delta, he said.

Cà Mau has a 250km coastline and more than 10,000km of rivers and canals.

Nguyễn Long Hoai, head of Cà Mau Province’s Irrigation Sub-department, said erosion has occurred at 105km along coastal areas in the province since 2007.

“The province has used all available resources and techniques to prevent and control erosion,” he said.

It has used advanced techniques to build embankments, which prevent erosion along sea dykes, he added.

On behalf of Cà Mau, Hoai asked the ministry and the Government to continue to grant money and seek private investors to build embankments in the province.    

Võ Thành Ngoan, deputy director of Đồng Tháp Province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said besides natural causes, illegal sand mining and construction project along rivers are major causes of erosion in the province.  

Đồng Tháp lost 322ha of land from erosion from 2005 to 2018.

During the period, the province relocated more than 8,000households in eroded areas to safe areas. It still needs to relocate an additional 6,000 households in erosion-prone areas, Ngoan said.

However, the province lacks land for resettlement and the proper conditions to provide a livelihood for relocated families, he said.

Seminar participants asked the Government to allocate more money for delta provinces and Cần Thơ City to develop erosion-prevention projects.

Local and central governments, as well as international organisations, have already spent a great deal of money to build erosion-prevention projects and conduct research.

Last year, besides an annual budget for erosion-prevention projects in the delta, the central Government allocated an additional VNĐ1.5 trillion (US$64.6 million) to the delta to build 29 urgently-needed erosion-prevention projects. – VNS

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