Vietnam's farmers hit hard by drought

HO CHI MINH • The village where Ms Vo Linh Hue lives is dotted with oyster farms, but in recent weeks farmers there have done nothing but clear dead oysters from the ponds.

Ben Tre province, in Vietnam's southern Mekong Delta, is experiencing the worst drought in recent history, and saline intrusion has hit rice and oyster farmers especially hard.

"This is the area where the river flows into the city. But now the seawater has pushed inland and killed all the oysters," said Ms Hue, 23, whose family lives in the Ben Tre village of Thua Thanh and has relied on oyster farming for decades.

At Vietnam's request, China has doubled the amount of water being discharged from the Jinghong Hydropower Station, in south-west China's Yunnan province, to help alleviate the drought. The station is on the upper reaches of the river, known in China as the Lancang River.

Between March 15 and Sunday, the volume of water discharged from the station will be about three to 31/2 times the normal water flow, according to China's Ministry of Water Resources.

The first water discharged by China had already arrived at the section of the Mekong River in Vietnam as of Monday, reported Vietnam News Agency.

Mr Tran Duc Cuong, a senior official with the Mekong River Commission in Vietnam, said on Tuesday that the water discharged by China can supply the section of the river in his country until April 29.

"Even though the discharge will not completely solve the drought and saline intrusion problems, it will alleviate them," he said. The emergency water supply has given a ray of hope to many rice farmers, who are on the verge of crop failure amid the severe drought.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2016, with the headline 'Vietnam's farmers hit hard by drought'. Subscribe