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PM pledges $670 million to save Mekong Delta from worst drought in a century

By Bui Hong Nhung   March 10, 2016 | 03:16 am PT
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has announced emergency funding of VND15 trillion ($670 million) to combat the affects of drought and salinity in the Mekong Delta.

The Mekong Delta is one of Vietnam’s key economic regions, accounting for more than half of the country’s rice output. However, the area is confronting serious natural hazards, which are becoming more complicated and severe, the prime minister said at a meeting on March 7.

“It is projected that the Mekong Delta, in the next 100 years, may be totally inundated, so we need solid solutions right now.”

Due to the El Nino weather pattern, the area is suffering from crippling drought and a rising tide of salinity that is decimating crops and severely affecting local communities.

More than 140,000 hectares of rice fields have been razed and about 150,000 families are lacking clean water at present, according to calculations by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The prime minister ordered relevant agencies to guarantee water supplies for local citizens and prevent epidemic outbreaks. Seafood farm operators will also be provided with technical assistance to fight diseases in their stocks caused by the long drought.

“The VND15 trillion allocated to combat the affects of drought and salinity in the Mekong Delta will come from government bonds and Official Development Assistance projects,” Dung said.

Requests have also been made through diplomatic channels requesting China discharge water from dams in the upper Mekong to help alleviate some of the stress to the lower reaches of the river.

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