The Mekong Delta should raise a louder voice to protect its water resource, which is in risk of pollution due to hydropower development in mainstream Mekong River, experts said at a workshop in Can Tho city on August 8.

Participants expressed deep concern about the building of dams for hydro power plants on stretches of Mekong river tributaries by upstream countries such as China, Laos and Thailand, which they said seriously affected on downstream areas, particularly the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam.

Nguyen Quoc Viet, deputy head of the Steering Committee for the Southwestern Region, said the effects caused by upstream dams, plus adverse impacts of climate change and rising sea level, will heighten the risk of salinity intrusion in the Mekong Delta, disrupting the local eco-system as well as farming. He estimated that over 30 million local residents, mostly farmers, will find it harder to earn a living, food output dwindle while many endemic species will face extinction.

According to Director of the Centre for Water Management and Climate Change Dao Trong Tu, the dam construction has been going on without permission of the Mekong River Commission (MRC). He urged scientists and affected residents to raise their voice to demand revision of socio-economic policies for sustainable development in the region.

MRC members should work closely together on this issue and deliver on their commitments, he said.

The Mekong Delta, the country’s largest rice granary, comprises 12 provinces and one centrally-run city with a total area of 40,000 square kilometres and a combined population of 18 million.

The region produces 52 percent of the national rice output and 90 percent of the total rice export.
It also provides 58 percent of the country’s total aquatic products output and accounts for 60 percent of national aquatic export turnover.

In addition, around 70 percent of fruit supply in the country comes from Mekong Delta’s orchards.-VNA