Vietnam prepares long-term measures to confront severe drought

February 24, 2016 | 09:52
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Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Monday urged authorities in the country’s south-central region and Central Highlands aeras to prepare long-term measures to cope with the current severe drought.

The suggestion was made during a conference on the climatic condition in Ninh Thuan Province, which was attended by officials from eight provinces along Vietnam’s south-central coast and Central Highlands.

“Drought starting in late 2015 is expected to persist until June this year, with rainfall absent in some localions until September. This is arguably the longest and most extreme drought in recent decades, more serious than those in the 1997-98 and 2004-05 periods,” Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said during his opening speech at the meeting.

The water level in many of the artificial lakes and hydropower reservoirs in the two regions has been lower than previous years' average, according to a report by Hoang Van Thang, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Nine out of 21 reservoirs in the Cai River in Ninh Thuan are unable to provide water for the production of local people, resulting in the farming area being narrowed by 10,000 hectares, Deputy Minister Thang said.

A similar situation is also present in Khanh Hoa Province as water levels in the man-made lakes are down between 30 and 40 percent of their designed capacity, the deputy minister stated, warning that about 35,000 people in the province will be deprived of their normal water supply.

In Binh Thuan Province, nearly 15,500 hectares, accounting for 40 percent, of paddy fields in the area have been affected by the water shortage.

People in the Central Highlands have had to cease cultivation in about 2,900 hectares as available water can only supply 30 percent of the region’s farming area, he continued.

The water supply is not forecast to be able to meet the demand of 100,000 hectares of coffee plantations, Thang said, adding that 25,000 households in Dak Lak Province alone will be confronted by a lack of water throughout the dry season.

The insufficient capital investment in an irrigation system was also addressed by leaders of the provinces at the conference.

Temporary measures should be figured out to cope with the urgent water dearth while comprehensive long-term and specific solutions should be studied to deal with the drought not only at present but also in the future, Deputy PM Phuc suggested.

Local authorities are encouraged to balance and ensure the economical and efficient use of water resources, and pay better attention to local citizens who are under the direct impact of drought, preventing them from being deprived of their water supply as well as those suffering from implications including starvation and potential epidemics, he elaborated.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has been ordered to regularly inspect the water level in reservoirs and establish a suitable crop calendar for local farmers to follow.

Deputy PM Phuc has urged all competent authorities to provide necessary financial support to speed up the implementation of anti-drought projects in 2016 as well as renovating old reservoirs and building new ones.

In addition, Minister Phat suggested that local authorities encourage people to limit the farming of rice and focus on cultivating crop varieties with higher drought tolerance during the dry season.

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