Saturday, July 6, 2013

Vietnamese Updates: The future of the Mekong Delta: Challenges and orientation for development (22 Jun 2013)

The future of the Mekong Delta: Challenges and orientation for development
Thứ bẩy, ngày 22 tháng 06 năm 2013 cập nhật lúc 03:23

Mekong Delta, which had been once considered as a symbol of prosperity. With an area of nearly 40,000 km2 and a population of 17 million people, of which nearly three quarters are farmers, this land is the large granary of the country. However, the challenges of climate change and the impact of the economic downturn has forced MekongDelta to face the threat of food and people security.
Facing the challenge

The granary in Mekong Delta

In 2012, Mekong Delta (MD) produced more than 25 million tons of rice and exported about 7 million tons of rice; however, it does not reinforce the nine-dragon land. The reason is that, during the length of development time, according to the statement of Mr. Phan Thanh Binh, Director of National University of Ho Chi Minh City on the Delta International Dialogue om 2013 held in Ho Chi Minh City: The contribution of agriculture in the Mekong Delta's entire GDP decreased from 42% in 2005 to 30% in 2010. Per capita income decreased from 115% compared to the national average in 1999 to 85% in 2010.

In these difficult conditions, the uncertain elements due to the impact of climate change and human activities in headwater area have the potential to profoundly affect the future of Mekong Delta. The impact of socio-economic development in the area of headwater basin would alter the water resources of the area towards the disadvantage direction that can hardly be predicted or controlled. A series of hydroelectric and agricultural reservoirs forming in the headwater area of MekongRiver in the future would make it difficult to control water shortages in dry season and floods in rainy season.

In Vietnam, the Mekong River basin covers about 71,000 km2, accounting for over 8% of the entire basin. Mekong Delta area covers 12% of the total country area, including 13 cities and provinces. Annually, Mekong Delta contributes up to 27% of GDP with 90% of exported rice and nearly 60% of exported seafood of Vietnam. However, this region is currently facing enormous challenges related to water issues, the status of salinity and other impacts of climate change. It has become one of the five major river basins with the most degrading river channels due to droughts. Currently, the salt water has arrived in the area of ​​Tan Chau and Chau Doc in An Giang provinces, which has never occurred in the past. By 2100, sea level could rise by 1 meter, causing the loss of 40% of the Mekong Delta. These challenges have serious impacts on the ecosystem, agricultural & fisheries activities and the lives of millions of people in the area as well as the issue of ensuring food security in Vietnam and concerned countries.

According to a report released by WWF last month, six countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) including CambodiaChina(Yunnan province and Zhuang autonomous region of Guangxi), LaosMyanmarThailand and Vietnam are facing serious threats to the key natural resources. These threats consist of the threat of losing more than a third of the remaining cover forest area within the next two decades and the collapsed ability of Mekong's ecosystem.

Orientation towards green growth
To actively respond to climate change with a series of related challenges, Vietnam’s Government has issued the sustainable development strategy in the period of 2011 - 2020, National Strategy on Water Resources in 2020 and more specific action programs, simultaneously promote the efficient use and sustainable management of water resources, including water supply in Delta regions. To preserve and protect the ecosystem in the Mekong River Basin is the way to keep alive the rich and diversified living resources for people of the nine-dragon land.

Mr. Javed Mir, Head of Natural Resources and Environment Committee under the Southeast Asia Department of Asian Development Bank (ADB) said that, a developing future with low low carbon emission and equality in term of society is an essential element to protect the natural resources of the sub-region, thus ensuring economic growth in the long term. It may lead to a reconsideration of the decision-making system and investment policies in the region as well as  the efficient relationship construction between public and personal partners to efficiently reinforce the economic welfare of people . For sustainable development of Mekong Delta and prevent this area from collapsing threat, it is necessary to follow green development, environmental protection and natural respect.


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