Central Highlands suffering under historic drought

By Duy Trần, Bui Hong Nhung   March 31, 2016 | 06:08 pm GMT+7
The prolonged drought caused by the El Nino weather pattern is the worst in Vietnam in over a century. In the Central Highlands, thousands of hectares of crops have been destroyed and the lives of countless people thrown into turmoil.
Central Highlands suffering under historic drought

Hundreds of reservoirs in Central Highland provinces are down to about 30 percent to 40 percent of their capacity, with some even falling to as low as 10 percent. Some provinces have even seen a number of lakes dry up completely. Pictured is a dry lake in Gia Lai province.

Central Highlands suffering under historic drought

Ho Duy Hoang, a coffee grower in Chu Puh district, Gia Lai province, said: "I had to dig my old well down a further 42 meters to search for water. However, I can only pump water out of the well for 10 minutes at a time."

"I can't afford to dig deeper due to the high cost and solid rocks below," he added.

Central Highlands suffering under historic drought

Along the roads leading to pepper and coffee farms, local people have either dug new wells or deepened their old ones. Many even borrowed money from local banks or relatives to dig wells, as each costs VND60 to 70 million ($2,700), higher than 2015's annual national average income of VND45 million.

Central Highlands suffering under historic drought

Water shortages have caused thousands of crops to fail and they are now left for cattle to graze on.

Central Highlands suffering under historic drought

Ro Cham Chut, a rice farmer in Chu Puh district, said: "Rice crops were on the way to ripening, but they have died due to water shortages. Definitely this year we will be hungry so we have to rely on government assistance.”

Central Highlands suffering under historic drought

Nguyen Thi Nga, a coffee grower in Chu Puh district, said that her coffee plants died because they had been watered just once in the last two months.

Central Highlands suffering under historic drought

Vo Lam Ba, also from Chu Puh district, said that he had to chop down his pepper trees. "There isn't enough water for people, let alone pepper."

Central Highlands suffering under historic drought

More than 30,000 families in the Central Highlands are lacking water, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Central Highlands suffering under historic drought

In the early morning or evening, locals carry their empty bottles to streams and fetch water.

Central Highlands suffering under historic drought

Thousands of water barrels are delivered by local authorities in Hbong commune, Gia Lai district.

Central Highlands suffering under historic drought

Ro Cham Han, from Hbong commune, said that each family is given three water barrels and three plastic containers to store water.

"I feel at ease because I have water for the next 10 days."

Central Highlands suffering under historic drought

Deputy Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has approved 500 tons of rice and VND300 billion (($13.5 million) in funding to build reservoirs for Gia Lai province.

 
 
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