Mekong Delta province declares state of emergency as waves erode embankment

By Trung Dung   August 28, 2020 | 12:37 am PT
Mekong Delta province declares state of emergency as waves erode embankment
An embankment section in Tran Van Thoi District of Ca Mau Province in early August, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Trung Dung.
With its coastal embankment threatened by collapse, Ca Mau Province is seeking urgent solutions to save residential areas and farmland.

The province entered a state of emergency Thursday to respond to any damage occurring as a three kilometer (1.86 miles) coastal embankment along its western coast nears the point of collapse due to wave impact.

Authorities have identified four sections as "especially threatened," measuring 610 and 315 m each in U Minh District, and 1,900 m and 500 m each in Tran Van Thoi District.

"Those sections receive no forest protection. During extreme weather spells, waves would break directly against the embankment, putting it at great risk," To Quoc Nam, deputy director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said.

He confirmed the department is looking into investment projects to help counter the situation.

Authorities in both affected districts further plan to evacuate families should conditions deteriorate.

The three-kilometer sea barrier helps prevent salinity from intruding into a residential area of 26,000 families and farmland of 90,000 ha (222,400 acres).

Ca Mau, the southernmost province of Vietnam, has a total coastline of over 250 km.

Since 2007, erosion has caused it to lose some 9,000 ha of protective forest.

Earlier this month, under the impact of storm Sinlaku, many sections of the embankment along Ca Mau’s western coast suffered serious erosion.

In December last year, a combined 105 km (65 miles) of riverbank and coastal areas were eroded in Ca Mau.

The Mekong Delta province has 46 riverine and six coastal areas termed "severe" erosion hotspots, its agriculture department warned last year.

Local authorities said climate change, which leads to complex and unpredictable natural calamities, has been worsening erosion in recent years.

The province has yet to formulate a long-term response to the threat, and has merely put up warning signs across threatened localities.

In the past 10 years, Vietnam has spent VND16.1 trillion ($694 million) on anti-erosion projects in the Mekong Delta, allocating VND4.04 trillion ($174 million) in 2018 and 2019 alone.

Across the delta, there are 564 riverine and coastal erosion hubs measuring a total 834 km.

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