Unusual mass fish deaths in Quang Binh (Source:VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – The Vietnam Fatherland Front and its member organisations have provided 50.8 billion VND (around 2.3 million USD) in aid to provinces hit hard by drought, saltwater intrusion and unusual mass fish deaths.

The provision of aid was reported at a meeting of the VFF Central Committee’s Standing Board and member organisations in Hanoi on May 12 under the chair of VFF President Nguyen Thien Nhan.

Of the amount, 7.5 billion VND was channeled to nine provinces in the Mekong Delta, the Central Highlands and south central coastal region to help them overcome the severe damages caused by prolonged droughts and saline intrusion.

Meanwhile, four central coastal provinces, where mass deaths of fish occurred, received a total four billion VND in aid.

The aid funding came from various sources, with the VFF chapter in Hanoi donating 19 billion VND and the Ho Chi Minh City chapter contributing 20 billion VND. Dien Bien province presented 100 million VND to the Mekong Delta provinces while Da Nang City helped the drought-hit Kon Tum province with 200 million VND.

At the same time, the Vietnam Red Cross Society, in coordination with the National Humanitarian Information Portal 1400, the Ministry of Information and Communication and HCN City-based Tuoi Tre Newspaper, launched a charity SMS campaign to raise funds for people affected by drought and saline intrusion.

The VFF Central Committee’s Standing Board reported that the drought and saltwater intrusion wrought havoc on over 426,000 ha of rice and food crops and 5,703 ha of aquacultural farms with total damages amounting to nearly 6.4 trillion VND. In addition, more than 424,000 households lack fresh water for daily activities.

Meanwhile, the abnormal fish deaths cost Ha Tinh province 260 billion VND, Quang Tri province – 135 billion VND, Quang Binh province – 175.3 billion VND and Thua Thien-Hue province – 11 billion VND, not to mention losses from the suspension of coastal fishing activities, fishing services and tourism.

Participants at the meeting noted the need for long-term solutions to help secure the livelihoods of people in affected provinces besides short-term assistance such as donating rice and water.

Vice Chairwoman of the Vietnam Women’s Union suggested calling on banks to provide preferential loans for farmers to resume production, while Vice President of the Vietnam Red Cross Society Tran Thi Hong An proposed giving water tanks to drought victims and buying health insurance for fishermen. She noted that the provision of seedlings and animals to farmers is not suitable at this point of time as the drought and salt intrusion is not yet over.

Representatives from the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour and the Farmers’ Union underlined the need to find ways to store water in the long run.

VFF President Nguyen Thien Nhan applauded the help contributed by VFF chapters and member organisations while stressing that the distribution of aid should be done in a fair manner. He agreed to short-term assistance measures including providing fishermen with health insurance cards and water tanks to drought victims.

Nhan also asked the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union to research further the building of saltwater filtering stations to address water shortage in areas affected by saline intrusion.-VNA