15:19 | 21/05/2016 Society
(VEN) - The Vietnamese government, the United Nations (UN), and partner countries recently released a joint communique calling upon the international community to urgently provide Vietnam with US$48.5 million in aid to help it cope with the heavy impacts of drought on the lives of about two million people in the southern-central and southern regions.
Serious drought has made about 25,900ha of arable land in the Mekong Delta unusable
In March the Vietnamese government, the UN, and non-governmental organizations made a quick assessment of the impact of the El Nino weather phenomenon in Vietnam. Serious drought has occurred in 18 provinces where about two million people have no clean water to use; 1.1 million people need food support; more than 60,000 women and children are malnourished, and the livelihoods of 1.75 million people have been heavily affected.
Six provinces have suffered heavy impacts, and eight provinces are facing the risk of falling into a serious situation in coming weeks due to a lack of clean water and exposure to elements that cause diseases. Drought is threatening food security in these provinces, which may increase the number of children suffering severe acute malnutrition.
Drought and the decline of groundwater levels in the Mekong Delta have also led to the most serious salinity intrusion in the last 90 years. Although it is an annual phenomenon, salinity intrusion this year occurred two months earlier and has penetrated 20-30km further inland, destroying more than 400,000ha of crops and making about 25,900ha of arable land unusable.
In late 2015 the Vietnamese government provided 5,223 tonnes of food for drought victims and allocated more than VND1 trillion (about US$45 million) to finance relief efforts at a national level. So far, drought and salinity intrusion victims have been provided with two million cu.m of water, 630,000 doses of chloramine B, and 400,000 aquatabs. However, as the drought is becoming more serious, the Vietnamese government is calling for urgent relief from the international community to help drought victims ensure food security and increase controls over the spread of epidemics.
UN Resident Coordinator in Vietnam Pratibha Mehta said, “The Vietnamese government has made great efforts to provide drought victims with urgent relief. However, to deal with this special problem Vietnam very much needs support from the international community. The UN will continue to coordinate with the Vietnamese government in order to provide urgent relief for people who have suffered the heaviest impacts of drought.”
According to the UN, the existing El Nino spell is an extreme climatic event, which has affected about 60 million people in Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, and the Pacific. The global impact of this El Nino spell is forecast to continue and be followed by a serious La Nina spell which will affect the lives and livelihoods of millions of people all over the world. Therefore, the UN on April 26 in Geneva appealed to the whole world to support relief efforts in 22 countries suffering from the impact of El Nino, including Vietnam.
With the UN’s support, the Vietnamese government is working with partners to develop an urgent relief plan to provide clean water, ensure environmental hygiene, food safety, and health for drought victims.