Residents are building stilt houses to adapt to rising sea levels in Ngoc Hien district, the southern most Ca Mau province.

Chairman of the district People's Committee Nguyen Truong Giang said the province is below sea level and its 254km coastline and 800km of river and canals are the most threatened by climate change in the country.

"In the last five years, the sea level has risen higher and higher in this district, and only the old style houses with stilts are unaffected by the problem," Giang said.

Stilt house suited the conditions and also the tight economics in Ngoc Hien district where the rate of poor households ranked as one of the highest in the country, Giang said.

A stilt house cost 20-50 million VND (1,000-2,500 USD) and stands on 1-1.5m piles made from mangrove timber. It helps people avoid the moisture of coastal salt water, especially at high tide.

Tran Van Phung, in Dat Mui Village, said such houses cost less because timber from mangrove trees is cheap and the homes do not have much furniture, such as beds, chairs and table.

The houses last about 10 years and can withstand 1m sea levels, said Phung.

In the last five years, Ngoc Hien has helped 1,200 poor households build the houses. Most offices, companies and residential houses were also built on stilts.

However, Giang warned that stilt houses could only adapt to rises in sea level, not strong storms. The district bans people from building their houses near the sea and encourages those who have houses there to move to safer areas.

Along coastal rivers there are thousands of vulnerable households facing high tides regularly.

Along with stilt houses, Ngoc Hien district is asking for money to build sea dykes to mitigate further climate change.-VNA