A farmer works on his rice field, which has been mostly destroyed by saltwater intrusion, in An Bien district, the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh has directed relevant agencies in receiving and using the Asian Development Bank’s emergency aid to help the country deal with impacts of drought and saline intrusion in the South Central, the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta regions.

He requested the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to properly allocate the fund in accordance with Decree No.16/2016/ND-CP dated March 16, 2016 on the management and use of official development assistance (ODA) and concessional loans provided by foreign donors.

The State Bank of Vietnam, the MARD and related agencies have been tasked with preparing all necessary papers for receiving the aid without delay.

The El Nino-induced dry spell has affected 39 of the country’s 63 provinces and cities, triggering widespread water shortage and parching vast areas of farmlands in the predominantly agricultural country.

As a result, an estimated two million people have been deprived of access to safe drinking water, while one million people are in urgent need of food assistance. All localities in the three regions have borne the brunt of the irregular climatic patterns, with some 400,000 hectares of cropland in total impacted with varying degrees of productivity loss.

The prolonged drought and saltwater intrusion since early this year have caused 4.7 trillion VND, or 215 million USD, in economic losses for the Mekong Delta. More than 221,000 hectares of rice, 6,500 hectares of vegetables, and 26,500 hectares of orchards and industrial crops were affected while paddy grown on 128,205 hectares was completely destroyed.-VNA