Very affected by global warming, Vietnam is looking for a way to save its population and its rice. Last June, just four months ago, the first heat wave arrived in Vietnam with unprecedented violence. Several provinces in the north of the country experienced a historical rise in a temperature varying between 37° to 42° under shelter and up to 50 degrees in town. In August, Vietnam suffered from a destructive stormy weather with floods in central and northern Vietnam which killed at least 26 people and washed away hundreds of homes. In September the Typhoon Doksuri, the strongest to hit the country in years, made as many victims as damage. A few days ago, heavy rains triggered flash floods in the north and central Vietnam again leaving 16000 homes submerged and at least 54 dead and 39 missing. One of the highest death rate recorded in Vietnam from flooding, according to the Disaster Prevention Agency. South East Asian countries often experience severe storms and see several deaths every year from typhoons, hurricanes, floods, but scientists says they are increasing, in number and intensity year after year. This year, it was the first time in a decade that northern and central regions of Vietnam suffered as much rain in a short period. Last year in 2016, tropical storms and flooding killed 264 people in Vietnam and caused damage worth VND 40 trillion ($1.75 billion), nearly five times more than in 2015.





Today, global warming is the biggest challenge of the 21st century and even more in Vietnam as the country is one of the five most affected country in the world. Indeed, in 50 years, the temperature increases from 0.5 ° C to 0.7 ° C and the sea level to 20cm. For the Mekong Delta, one of the three most vulnerable deltas on the planet, if the sea level increases by one meter, about 40% of its surface will be under water. With global warming, at the current rate, the temperature should increase in Vietnam by 2100 from 2 ° to 3 ° meaning that in the future, the Mekong Delta should see its flow decrease during the dry season by ¼ and, on the other side, increase by about 15% during the flood season. The sea level rise is expected to reach 0.75 to 1m according to the Institute of Development Studies of the Mekong Delta. 2.4 million hectares of crops are expected to be destroyed by seawater causing significant human and economic damages as the Mekong Delta is contributing around 18% to the national GDP.



Rice Farming in the Delta


The Mekong Delta is made up of 13 provinces and cities, covering 3.94 million hectares (12% of the national area) with a population of almost 18 million inhabitants. The region produces 54% of rice (90% of exported rice) and 70% of sea food. Vietnam is the world’s second-largest exporter of rice, and 80% of it grew in the Mekong Delta one of the most fertile agricultural areas in Asia. The rising sea level and the penetration in the land of salt water have not stopped since the 2000s. The sea already infiltrates up to 60 kilometers inland, perturbating the ecosystem, disrupting the cultures and habits of the villagers with dramatic consequences: submerged and therefore destroyed plots, the salinization of soils make it impossible to produce rice again. The dams also have a considerable impact on the 4,800 kilometers of the Mekong. In recent years, China has built 8 and is planning a dozen more. Laos and Cambodia are also embarking on colossal projects. The consequences? Lands does not resist anymore to more frequent floods, the quantity of fresh water has declined, as have the sediments and silts, stoping sea water to enter. “Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Sustainable Development Nguyên Xuân Cuong explained APEC officials last month that, in Vietnam, non-salt water resources depleted faster and faster. Shortly, Vietnam and the Mekong Delta will be facing serious threats. Scientists warn that the region could disappear in 100 years if nothing is done. Meanwhile, in the Delta region, populations are facing an increasing lack of fresh water. Modest families are caught in a spiral of impoverishment that is accelerating. Rising temperatures increase air humidity that promotes the proliferation of diseases, including Dengue fever and as the quantity of fresh and potable water is decreasing, local populations sometimes have no choice but to consume polluted or salty liquids.



Vietnam: Climate change threatens rice production


A national conference on the Mekong Delta


A conference on the sustainable development of the Mekong Delta, the largest of its kind, was organized last 26 and 27 September in the city of Cân Tho, under the aegis of Prime Minister Nguyên Xuân Phuc. The event brought together nearly 700 national and international delegates, development partners, companies, experts and scientists to analyze the state of the region, challenges and to propose relevant solutions. Shortly, the World Bank (WB) will work with the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to help Vietnam realize the Mekong Delta Master Plan, which aims to develop long-term solutions and strategies. The WB is also working with the Ministry of Construction to build water supply systems for seven provinces and cities in the South-West region and to develop river transport and logistics services. UNDP National Director in Vietnam, Louise Chamberlain, said that UNDP would focus its aid on the goal of improving the resilience of local communities to climate change by supporting the mobilization of public development aid and private investment. The United Nations Development Program has proposed to the Ministries of Construction, Planning, and Investment to create a Green Climate Fund to help coastal communities adapt to climate change. The German ambassador to Vietnam, Christian Berger, said the German government would cooperate with the WB and the Vietnamese government to strengthen the mapping of prevention and control of soil subsidence in the Delta Mekong and the Mekong subregion. Australia is ready to cooperate with Vietnam in finding solutions to the challenges faced by the Mekong Delta, Asian Development Bank (ADB) director in Vietnam Eric Sidgwick said the ADB had introduced Vietnam in the ADB’s Climate Change Program for the period 2016-2030 with a total budget of $ 20 billion. Also, the Manila-based institution will implement the project to develop urban centers in the Greater Mekong sub-region (GMS) in Vietnam in six areas, including transport infrastructure.


Vietnam is a signatory to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol. On April 22, 2016, Vietnam, together with 175 countries of the world, signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and ratified it in October 2016. Vietnam has developed its action Plan for Implementation of Agenda 2030 for sustainable development.

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