Saturday, January 12, 2008

Climate change, sea level rise to cost Vietnam dearly

Thanhnien News: Vietnam is highly vulnerable to climate change, with rising sea levels to affect vast areas of the country, including heavily populated regions, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) said Friday. A sea level rise of one meter will flood up to 12 percent of Vietnam's land and affect nearly 11 percent of its population, according to a MARD report released at a climate change conference in Hanoi.

A one meter sea level rise would inundate about 5,000 square kilometers of northern Vietnam's Red River Delta and up to 20,000 square kilometers in the Mekong Delta in the south. River and sea dike systems would crumble in destructive typhoons and storms caused by climate change, the report said. Higher sea levels would also decimate the nation's crops, with food output reduced by 12 percent, or five million tons a year. Extreme weather would cause natural disasters such as severe floods, which could lead to outbreaks of human and animal diseases.

Deputy Minister Dao Xuan Hoc action must be taken immediately or it would be too late. The ministry is conducting research to develop a plan to promote afforestation, the use of environmentally-friendly production technology and upgrades of the nation's dikes and irrigation systems. Hoc said scientists were drafting plans for reinforcing dikes in the Mekong Delta and the central region.

The resettlement of vulnerable residents from flood and landslide-prone areas had already been carried out effectively. However, the number of residents that still need to be resettled was massive, he said.

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