Monday , January 30 2023

Erosion continues to destroy Mekong Delta homes

A dozen homes and adjacent fruit farms and fishponds were swept away into a river in Vinh Long Province recently, which is just another episode of destructive erosion in the Mekong Delta.

Erosion swallowed up much of the banks of the Chien River on Monday afternoon, and there is no sign that it will stop soon, said chairman of the Hoa Ninh Commune Nguyen Hoang Nguyen on Tuesday.

Hoa Ninh is a central locality in Long Ho District, which has been hit hardest by recent erosion disaster.

“Erosion has washed away 500m of riverbank, affecting an area 250-300m wide,” he said.

Within two hours on Monday, 12 families lost their homes along with dozens of hectares of fruit farms and fishponds.

“We stood there and watched the fortune we’ve spent, and all the effort we’ve put in, just fly away,” said Nguyen Van Thao, a farmer who lost his home. “There was nothing we could do at all.”

Apart from the 12 homeless families, local authorities have evacuated eight more as their houses are now also at risk of being swept away.

Co Chien is a branch of the Tien River, a tributary of the Mekong River.

It flows 82km through Vinh Long Province, marking a natural border with Tra Vinh and Ben Tre Provinces.

River erosion has been getting worse in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam’s agricultural hub.

On the Tien River, an embankment of 850 meters long in Dong Thap Province that borders Vinh Long had been eroded three times from when it was put into use in 2016 to April this year.

In February last year, one person was injured as six houses in Vinh Long collapsed into the Hau River, another tributary of the Mekong.

Since 1992, the Mekong Delta region has lost some 300-600 hectares of riverine land each year to erosion.

One of the reasons is excessive sand mining.

Other reasons include industrial agriculture and aquaculture (leading to the destruction of vast areas of mangroves) and the impacts of climate change, according to experts.

In the last 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.

The delta now has 564 riverine and coastal erosion hubs measuring a total 834 km.

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