Ministry proposes over 515 billion VND to deal with salinity, drought hinh anh 1Farmland dries up in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) –
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has recently proposed an aid package worth 515.3 billion VND (22 million USD) to deal with drought and saltwater intrusion in 2020.

This forms part of activities to implement Directive No. 04/CT-TTG dated January 22, 2020 by the Prime Minister on measures to mitigate drought, water shortages and saltwater intrusion.

The aid package aims to help carry out urgent solutions to prevent and cope with drought, water scarcity and saltwater intrusion like pumping water, dredging canals, maintaining irrigation works, building temporary embankments to retain freshwater, digging ponds and wells, extending the water pipeline network, purchasing equipment for water filtration and storage, and delivering water to residential areas, hospitals and schools facing water shortages.

Due to the lack of rain in 2019, most irrigation reservoirs nationwide are only between 50 – 80 percent capacity. The reservoir at the upper source of the Hong River in Thai Binh is around 60 percent full, while Hoa Binh Lake is at 63 percent, the lowest in the past 30 years.

Those in the central region are only 15-30 percent full. The water level in the Mekong River is lower than in 2015-2016, which recorded the worst salinity.

According the MARD, solutions to prevent drought, saltwater intrusion have been proven effective. Though the Mekong Delta region suffered more severe salinity than in 2015-2016, only 49,800 hectares of rice crops in 2019-2020 were damaged, accounting for 1.81 percent of  the whole region. At the peak, around 96,000 households lacked clean water, compared with 114,000 households in 2015-2016.

All rice crops in the Central Highland region and the northern region receive water from irrigation reservoirs with a combined capacity of 2.68 billion cubic metres.

Drought and water shortages are predicted to continue until May in the Central Highlands, and August in the central region.

Previously, an aid package of 530 billion VND (over 22.7 million USD) was approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to help eight provinces in the Mekong Delta deal with drought, water scarcity and saltwater intrusion, which have been taking a heavy toll on the country’s agricultural production hub./.