As a coastal province with a 200km long coastline, the southern province of Kien Giang is facing great challenges posed by climate change and rising sea level, which requires the province to take quick and drastic actions.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Mai Anh Nhin said hydro-meteorological observations show that the sea level is rising by an average of 1 centimetre every year.

If the water level rises by 0.5 metre, more than half of the plain areas in the province will be submerged, exerting devastating impact on the local life and economy since the agro-forestry-fishery sector accounts for nearly 38 percent of the provincial gross domestic product (GDP), he said.

Since 2010, erosion has become more common along coastal areas, which affected hundreds of housholds in Hon Dat, An Bien, and An Minh districts, according to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

At the same time, drought and salt water intrusion have worsened in dry season while high tides and floods became more serious over the year.

According to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Kien Giang province needs over 5.3 trillion VND ( 245 million USD) to build a sluice system and upgrade damaged sea dykes between 2015 and 2020 and beyond to cope with rising sea levels.

Director of the Department Nguyen Van Tam said the province is implementing a programme to upgrade the sea dyke system that runs from central Quang Ngai province to Kien Giang, and projects to upgrade the 212-km sea dyke from local Ha Tien town to Tieu Dua commune in An Minh district.

The construction of 27 sluice gates to prevent saltwater intrusion on the An Bien – An Minh dyke is also underway, he added.

Local authorities are exerting efforts to increase the coverage of protective forests as well as adjust and supplement development plans in accordance with the sea level rise scenarios, and improve management of flood-controlling systems.

The province has been allocated 59 billion VND (2.81 million USD) to implement three forestation projects in coastal areas. Meanwhile, the provincial authorities will set aside nearly 600 billion VND ( 27.7 million USD) to improve the irrigation system to serve aquaculture in Vam Rang – Ba Hon region in Hon Dat district and Kien Luong town.

It plans to carry out projects to improve infrastructure for coastal urban areas such as Rach Gia city, Ha Tien, Phu Quoc and Kien Luong towns, while studying plant and animal strains as well as agriculture models that are adaptive to climate change.

At the same time, the province will improve the quality of natural disasters forecast and keep a close watch on the issue to proactively mitigate the impact of climate change.

Kien Giang has around 8,770 hectares of land dedicated to coastal protective forests. However, only 2,950 hectares are currently covered in trees.-VNA