Saturday, March 27, 2010

Vietnam's Red River drying out

Thanh Thu in VietnamNet: Just one look at the Red River told the whole story – the lifeline of the northern delta had reached its lowest level since records began in 1902. At some parts of the river, the water level stood at just 70cm.

An extended drought in Vietnam has also caused water levels in the Mekong Delta to drop to their lowest points in nearly 20 years. Tens of millions of people depend on the two river basins for farming, fishing and transportation. Needless to say this drought has alarm bells ringing loud and clear.

…According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)’s Water Resources Department, this year, nearly 80,000 of the total 630,000 hectares of arable land in the north of Vietnam is at risk from this prolonged drought and more than 5,700 hectares will be forced to shift to other crops in need of less water.

Nguyen Lan Chau, vice director of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s National Center for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting (NCHF), ascribed the scarcity of rains since last September to a persistent decrease in the water levels of all rivers in northern Vietnam and to forest fires in provinces nationwide.

….According to the NCHF, the return of El Niño, the cyclical warming pattern, is the real culprit causing Vietnam’s long lasting drought, which will continue in the coming month. Even this summer, when rainfall often increases every year, rainfall will decrease.

….“Such a long-lasting drought is quite different from previous years,” says Do Thanh Hai, also from MARD’s Forest Protection Department. “Dry weather and high temperatures are coinciding with the time farmers burn their fields to prepare for cultivation, which has created a very high risk for forest fire.”…

Long Biên Bridge in Hanoi, Vietnam, looking towards the city centre from a rural island in the river. Shot by Kelisi, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License


Anonymous said...

I've been following the problem with the Red River and also the Mekong which is suffering from similar problems for at least the last 4 months. There has been no coverage in the western media, even though the drought threatens crops in two of the largest rice producers in the world - and also the Tonle Sap lake which provides the main source of protein in the form of fish to the people of Cambodia.

Anonymous said...