Hundreds of climate refugees flood to Ho Chi Minh City

By Phuc Hung, Kim Thuy   April 14, 2016 | 08:36 pm PT
The historic drought and salinity gripping the southern provinces of Soc Trang and Ca Mau have caused waves of migrants into cities like Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong and Dong Nai.

With no water for farming and no jobs, hundreds of people have had to abandon their poor villages in search of a better life in other cities, leaving many parts of the provinces left with just children and the elderly.

“This year has been so cruel, there is not enough water for daily use, not to mention farming. No one dares to grow anything,” Son Thi Chi, whose daughter and son-in-law have left for Ho Chi Minh City, leaving the old, poor farmer with two grandchildren to take care of.

VND1 million ($45) and 25 kilograms of rice the daughter sends her every month are not enough to feed her husband and two grandchildren. Chi has to seek extra work in town, earning VND70,000 per day.

Ngoài việc lo cái ăn, vợ chồng ông Thạch Tương còn phải thay cha mẹ chăm sóc, dạy bảo hai đứa cháu ngoại

Besides feeding and clothing, Son Thi Chi and her husband also have to help their grandchildren with school. Photo by Phuc Hung

Like Chi, a 52-year-old grandmother, Thach Thi Hoa, has to raise two grandchildren while three daughters and sons have left for jobs in Ho Chi Minh City.

“In previous years, we could make ends meet by renting land for farming. In some bumper crops, we could make enough money for a year-subsidence.”

“This year’s salinity has been storm sweeping through our poor village, taking away our means of livelihood,” Hoa said.

Ấp Hội Trung giờ chỉ còn người già và trẻ nhỏ. Ảnh: Phúc Hưng

Only children and the elderly remain in Hoi Trung village. Photo by Phuc Hung

Truong Huu Can, deputy chairman of Hoi Trung people’s committee in Soc Trang province said that about 100 locals have left for jobs in other cities.

There are only three small companies in the village, providing about 60 jobs while the total population of the village is 900 households, Can said.

It is estimated that about 14,000 hectares of rice fields have been damaged by drought and salinity and salt intrusion have destroyed thousands of hectares of fruit and vegetables due to lack of water for irrigation.

In Binh Khanh district of Ca Mau province, since the beginning of this year, more than 300 locals have abandoned their home for jobs in cities.

Salinity has caused diseases, reducing between 30 percent and 70 percent of shrimp output.

At present, although water from China and Laos is coming, southern provinces still suffer acute shortage of water and salinity are still cruel realities.

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