Barges have transported fresh water in containers from HCM City to Phu Khanh Commune in Ben Tre Province's Thanh Phu District where residents face shortages due to saline intrusion and drought.
The Sai Gon Water Corporation (Sawaco) said that it had provided 3,000 cubic metres of fresh water for residents there, and also planned to transport fresh water from the city to Ca Mau Province.
The Military Command in Soc Trang Province, working with Soc Trang Water Supply Joint Stock Company, is providing free bottles of water to 1,000 households in the communes of Thanh Thoi An, Tai Van, and Lieu Tu in Tran De District.
Saline intrusion and drought this year came earlier in the delta than in the 2015-2016 dry season.
Authorities in Tra Vinh Province, together with officials with the local climate change adaptation programme, have provided 2,000 water basins to the poor or near-poor, and to Khmer ethnic minority households in 30 communes in seven districts.
Kien Giang Province's Centre for Fresh Water and Rural Environment Hygiene said it was working with local authorities to set up new water supply sites in areas without water stations in island districts.
The centre has built reservoirs to provide water to supply stations in the districts of Tan Hiep, Go Quao, Hon Dat and others where residents cannot use underground water. It also has built a steel container to store rain water, with a capacity of 2,000 cubic metres.
The centre has submitted a project on household-based water filtering to the provincial People's Committee. If approved, it would start next year and last until 2025. Costs would be fully covered for poor households and those living in remote areas.
This year, saline intrusion levels in the dry season have broken the previous record set in 2016.
As of March 4, the provinces of Kien Giang, Ben Tre, Tien Giang, Ca Mau and Long An had declared an emergency due to saltwater intrusion.
Pham Van Canh, vice chairman of People's Committee in Long An Province, said that saline intrusion had reached the "second (of five) warning level for natural disasters".
According to the Southern Institute of Water Resource Research, saltwater intrusion is expected to be the highest from February to April and then fall in May.
In the Vam Co Dong River, saltwater intrusion is expected to enter 100 kilometres deep, 40 kilometres more than the average levels of previous years.
Saline intrusion in Vam Co Tay River could enter 110 kilometres deep, 5 kilometres higher than the record set in 2016.
Ca Mau Province has also declared a second natural disaster warning level in areas facing fresh water shortage in the districts of U Minh and Tran Van Thoi. The province has more than 20,000 households in these areas.
Drought has affected more than 18,000 hectares of paddy rice and vegetables.
Ca Mau Province said it would either build a canal that would take water from the Hau River or a large-scale reservoir in U Minh District.
In Ben Tre Province, nearly 20,000 hectares of fruit have been damaged due to water shortages. Many durian gardens have also been affected by lack of water.
The province's Ba Tri Reservoir has nearly one million of cubic metres of water, but saltwater began intruding in the beginning of the dry season. The province has closed a sluice system to turn the Ba Lai River into a reservoir with a capacity of 1 billion of cubic metres.
PM requests sufficient water supply in drought-hit Mekong Delta
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has pointed out an urgent need to ensure standardised drinking water for residents in the Mekong Delta while minimising socio-economic impact caused by drought there.
Saltwater intrusion in the Mekong Delta, the largest agricultural production hub of Vietnam, has appeared sooner and become more severe than in the 2015-2016 dry season, when historic drought and saline intrusion were recorded, and the phenomenon is predicted to remain serious for the rest of this dry season, thus greatly affecting agricultural production and people's life.
Facing that fact, the Cabinet leader made a fact-finding tour of Ben Tre province and had a working session with officials of some ministries and the region's provinces of Ben Tre, Tien Giang, Long An, Kien Giang and Ca Mau on March 8.
At the meeting, PM Phuc stressed the importance of the Government's Resolution 120/CP on sustainably developing the Mekong Delta in adaptation to climate change.
He noted that at the meeting in Tien Giang last September, the Government ordered localities in the region to begin the winter-spring crop one month ahead of schedule and change the crop structure in drought-hit areas. As a result, the damaged rice area is about 39,000ha, equivalent to only 9.6 percent from 2016, when more 405,000ha of rice were destroyed by drought and saltwater intrusion.
This is an important success amid serious impact of climate change in the region in the recent past, he said.
However, as drought and saltwater intrusion this year is forecast to be even more severe than in 2016, water scarcity will affect locals' daily life and agriculture. Therefore, ministries, sectors and localities need to focus on some short- and long-term measures to deal with problems emerging, especially the shortage of standardised drinking water, the PM noted.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, water flows to the Mekong Delta in 2019-2020 are much less than the average, even less than the volume in 2015-2016, which is the main cause of early, serious and prolonged saltwater intrusion in this dry season.
Saltwater encroachment has influenced agriculture and people's life since December last year and continually got worse. It has been recorded in 10 of the 13 provincial-level localities in the region, excluding An Giang, Dong Thap and Can Tho.
About 95,600 local households are facing water shortages, compared to 210,000 in the 2015-2016 dry season, the ministry said, adding that authorities are taking measures to ensure water supply for them.
Speaking highly of efforts to cope with drought and saltwater intrusion, PM Phuc affirmed that Vietnam has enough food reserves to meet domestic and export demand.
A difficult problem will be successfully resolved if all economic sectors and the whole people join hands to deal with it, he emphasised.
At the meeting, he asked localities in the Mekong Delta to make active moves to fight the COVID-19 outbreak while fulfilling socio-economic development tasks without revising targets.
They also need to step up applying science and technology to agriculture, industry and services so as to obtain better results in these fields, thus helping to achieve the country's target of 42 billion USD in agriculture exports this year, the PM said, adding that the Government will support the provinces hit hard by drought and saltwater intrusion. — VNS/VNA