Illustrative image (Source: dantri.com.vn)

Dak Nong (VNA) – Central Highlands localities should closely monitor the drought situation and spare no effort to ensure local people do not suffer from water and food shortage, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hoang Van Thang.

Speaking at a conference on anti-drought measures for the Central Highlands held in Dak Nong on March 22, Deputy Minister Thang also called for communication campaigns to help people know how to prevent and cope with drought.

He said the ministry’s Cultivation Department will coordinate with local agriculture department to quickly implement technical support packages for farmers, while the Vietnam Electricity Group should work with local administrations on operating plans for water reservoirs at hydroelectric power plants towards the goal of effective water supply for farming and daily use in downstream areas.

In the long term, Central Highlands provinces should allocate sufficient capital to irrigation development, particularly upgrading water reservoirs and enhancing water use efficiency.

Deputy Minister Thang also requested local authorities to remove any obstacles to facilitate the implementation of projects funded by Official Development Assistance (ODA) capital.

Promoting the economical use of water, especially the application of efficient watering models in farming, is another feasible measure to cope with drought, the official said.

The Central Highlands region is facing a serious threat of drought as the water flow in major rivers has reduced by 20-70 percent compared to normal years. The current water volume in many reservoirs has dropped to 30-60 percent of design capacity.

Initial statistics show more than 7,000 ha of rice in the region have to be abandoned due to shortage of water, while 5,400 other hectares have been damaged by drought. More than 35,000 ha of industrial crops are being threatened by water shortage.

If rain does not come by the end of March, the drought-hit area will expand to 135,000ha.

Local authorities also reported that nearly 17,600 households lack water for daily use.

In addition, forest fire risk in the region is expected to remain at extremely dangerous level for a long time to come.

The Central Highlands, comprising Dak Lak, Lam Dong, Dak Nong, Kon Tum and Gia Lai provinces, is home to 5.5 million people-VNA