Mekong Delta’s Soc Trang raises climate awareness

Soc Trang is now ready to join four other provinces in the Mekong Delta in a climate change adaptation programme.
Soc Trang is now ready to join four other provinces in the Mekong Delta in a climate change adaptation programme.

The programme, conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) with support from the Australian and German governments, will be implemented from 2014 until 2017.

Local and foreign environmental experts who attended a conference on November 19 said their evaluation of pilot adaptation practices in Soc Trang showed promising results that can be applied elsewhere in the region.

The project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit, began in the province six years ago.

Klaus Schmitt, Chief Technical Advisor of GIZ Soc Trang, said: "The project will wrap up by 2014. We can take those solutions that work and upscale them to all five provinces in the Mekong Delta including An Giang, Kien Giang, Ca Mau, Bac Lieu, and Soc Trang."

It's reported that silt deposition has begun at eroded areas and mangroves grown again after several T-shaped bamboo break-water fences were installed near Soc Trang's coastline.

Besides, activities were carried out to enhance people's awareness of the need to adapt to climate change as well as measures that could be taken.

"We need to raise awareness among people, telling them the benefits they get from mangrove. We carried out roadshows to do this. We went from village to village to inform people about mangroves and climate change, as held knowledge competitions about climate change among children who would go back and tell their parents," he said.

It's hard to say what the result of these activities are, but people who live near the coastline and depend on mangroves for their lives do not have to go far from the resource, he said.

Le Thanh Tri, deputy chairman of the Soc Trang People's Committee, noted that Vietnam is among five countries judged most vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels, and the Mekong Delta was among three deltas that would suffer the biggest climate change impacts.

Soc Trang and other coastal provinces in Vietnam have been facing difficulties in applying their new knowledge and experience and lack the funding to do so, Tri said, adding that the conference was a great opportunity for the province to discuss issues with international organisations and scientists.

As Vietnam's largest rice basket, the delta needs to have an effective strategy to adapt to climate change and to ensure sustainable natural resource exploitation, Tri said, adding that there have been achievements in restoring mangrove forests.

The T-shaped fences have helped prevent erosion he added.

The conference, titled "Adaptation to Climate Change in the Coastal Zone of Soc Trang Province", was attended by more 200 participants from Vietnamese ministries, government agencies, academics and national and international NGOs from Vietnam, Germany, the Philippines and Fiji.

They were keen on sharing experiences and lessons learnt from six years of project implementation in Soc Trang.

Deputy director of the MARD's Irrigation Department Nguyen Van Tinh said that he hoped the result of this pilot project would be multiplied nationwide.

The two-day event focused on four key topics of mangrove rehabilitation, mangrove management, Integrated Coastal Management and erosion protection through bamboo wavebreakers. An extra session on environmental awareness was also held.

On November 18, a day prior to the conference, experts from the Vietnamese-German technical cooperation project handed over a geospatial database with historical information to the administration of Soc Trang province.

The geospatial database not only compiles data from different sources in Vietnam, but also contains maps which date back to 1904 and were only available in France.

As shoreline changes can only be understood over long periods of time, the availability of long-term information has special value.

The database now provides decision-makers with historical maps that help chart the historical development of the coastline and to identify suitable and site-specific measures for coastal protection.-VNA

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