08/31/2021, 15.03
VIETNAM
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Water scarcity threatens the country

by Tran Hung

About 39 people died from extreme weather phenomena in the past week. Every year at least 9,000 Vietnamese die from poor sanitation and 250,000 are hospitalised because of contaminated water. Prolonged drought has damaged crops. For farmers, the pandemic has complicated the situation even more.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Vietnam is among the most vulnerable countries to climate change and extreme weather phenomena. Most of the problems it will face in the near future are connected to the availability of water resources.

Since 26 August, natural disasters have killed at least 39 people and injured 64. Extreme weather events have damaged nearly 70,000 hectares of rice and vegetables and over 6,000 hectares of other crops. Several heads of cattle were also lost and at least 200 houses destroyed.

About 13.6 million Vietnamese do not have enough clean water for their daily activities. While 90 per cent of the population has access to running water in cities, 2.5 million people in rural areas do not.

According to the Ministry of the Environment, every year at least 9,000 Vietnamese die from poor sanitation and about 250,000 people are hospitalised for problems related to contaminated water.

This year drought also caused severe damage to crops. Gia Lai province was the most affected, especially Krong Pa district, where the lack of rain has damaged over 16,000 hectares of crops.

Farmers spoke to AsiaNews about the difficulty in saving their harvest.

A family in Tơ Tung installed a pump to water their rice fields, but it was useless: there was not enough water to irrigate all the land.

“In the past too, the weather was hot, but it rained a lot more,” said Ms Vi. “This year the drought was prolonged. We had to spend a lot of money on electricity to run the pump and it didn't help.”

According to the World Bank, the impact of water pollution on human health is the biggest threat to Vietnam’s economy. Unless this is addressed by 2035, the country could see its GDP reduced by 6 per cent annually.

The problem is felt even more following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. For some Vietnamese, farming is currently the only source of income.

“I just hope it rains soon so the farmers can survive,” said a resident in Gia Lai province. This year he only obtained 100 kilos of corn from his land; last year he harvested almost two tonnes.

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