Adaptation to saltwater intrusion critical to Mekong Delta hinh anh 1A farmer on his dry rice field in the Mekong Delta province of Long An (Photo: VNA)

Can Tho (VNA) – The Mekong Delta needs to adjust to saltwater intrusion in the long term, as the ongoing drought and salt water encroachment are challenging response efforts, experts said.

Suggesting adaptation measures, Associate Professor Vo Quang Minh from Can Tho University’s College of Environment and Natural Resources said in areas prone to saltwater intrusion, Mekong Delta authorities need to tighten control over water use and design plans for climate change-adjusted farmland use until 2020, 2030 and 2050.

Local climate change scenarios should be aligned with possible changes in soil conditions and economic situation as well as economic policies to serve as a foundation for overall planning, including adaptation to saltwater intrusion, he noted.

He also recommended building synchronous systems of culverts, dams and embankments and dredging irrigation canals. It is also necessary to change the crop schedule and structure in accordance with specific areas, while updating farmers on new cultivation techniques.

Another effective solution for the Mekong Delta is storing water in the flood season for use in the dry season, said Associate Professor Le Anh Tuan, Deputy Director of the Mekong Delta Research Institute for Climate Change.

Ponds and canals dug for flood water storage will help mitigate flood impacts in the rainy season, and that water will, in turn, help reduce saltwater intrusion in the dry season, he added.

Meanwhile, how to use fresh water efficiently is another problem, Tuan said, elaborating that saving one cubic metre of water is easier than seeking an equivalent amount of water in the Delta amid the severe drought and saline encroachment.

He urged residents to employ technical solutions for water efficiency, such as avoiding farming water-intensive crops and livestock, irrigating at appropriate points of time and using waste water, and applying efficient irrigation measures.

The Mekong Delta has nearly 4 million hectares of farmland, accounting for almost 30 percent of Vietnam’s total farmland area, with over 50 percent under rice.

Drought and salinisation have seriously affected 11 out of the 13 Mekong Delta provinces, with nearly 160,000 hectares of the winter-spring rice crop damaged.-VNA