Mekong Delta farmers welcome rains after months of drought

By Cuu Long, Bui Hong Nhung   May 27, 2016 | 02:40 am PT
Local farmers in 13 Mekong Delta districts have returned to their crops now that rain has bought much-needed relief from the drought.

The Southern Center for Hydro‑Meteorological Forecasting said that the prolonged drought in the Mekong Delta will come to an end this month, and heavy rain is forecast.

“If the rain falls as expected, we will escape from this natural disaster that has parched the region,” said environmental expert Duong Van Ni.

Over the last few months, the prolonged drought caused by El Nino has had devastating consequences for hundreds of thousands of plantations as well as the lives of two million people in the southern and central parts of the country.

The prolonged drought has also caused severe saltwater intrusion in 10 out of 13 provinces throughout the Mekong Delta, with saltwater intruding 20-25 kilometers further inland compared with seasonal averages.

However, recent heavy rains have raised water reserves in local rivers and lowered salinity levels by three to four times compared to the levels in March and April.

Do Thanh Truong, a coconut farmer from Ben Tre Province, told VnExpress: “Now we can fetch water from the rivers to cook with.”

Nguyen Thi Diem Phuong, general director of Ben Tre’s Water Supply and Sewerage Company, said that her company can now afford to provide clean water for local families as the level of salinity in water is not as high as before.

In other Delta provinces such as Soc Trang and Tra Vinh, saltwater retreated from the land.

“In just a couple of weeks, there has been a lot of rain and the water is no longer salty. My two hectares of fruit trees have grown quickly,” said Tran Van Phat, a farmer from Soc Trang.

However, Le Anh Tuan, deputy director of the Institute of Climate Change under Can Tho University, warned that after the drought caused by El Nino, southern provinces are likely to suffer thunderstorms and even severe flooding at the hands of La Nina.

“Local authorities and local people need to reinforce dykes and flood prevention methods to brace for the upcoming disaster,” Tuan said.

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