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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    22 August  2012

Vietnam prepares for Mekong Delta flood season


Vietnamese authorities in the Mekong Delta (or know as Cuu Long) are fully geared for the upcoming flood season caused by rising levels in the Mekong and its tributaries, an annual feature.

Farmers are also busy, taking advantage of the annual bounty. In An Giang Province's upstream An Phu District, they are planting 3,000 hectares of rice in the third crop, 1,400 hectares more than a year ago.

Nguyen Van Thanh, secretary of the An Phu Party Committee, said the area has increased because the dyke system has been expanded and strengthened.

Nguyen Van Binh, a farmer in An Phu's Long Binh town, said: "In previous years, when the floods came, people had to be moved and crops were inundated, causing big losses.

"Dykes have now been built, houses and roads are no longer inundated. People can produce during the flood season, earning larger incomes."
An Giang has spent 164 billion Vietnamese dong (US$7.8 million) this year on dredging canals and upgrading dykes and sluice gates to prevent inundation, according to the local Steering Committee for Search and Rescue, Flood and Storm Control and Prevention.

Vo Thanh, director of the An Giang Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, said water levels in the Mekong's upstream are lower than at this time in the last many years.

But the peak levels this year, between mid-October and mid-November, would reach the third and highest warning level, and be higher than the normal average level, he said.

In Dong Thap, which normally faces the brunt of the flooding, farmers in flood-prone districts have planted 110,000 hectares of rice, 11,500 hectares more than a year ago.

But the planting has been restricted to areas with robust dykes and the schedule has been calculated carefully to avoid damage from floods.
Besides rice, farmers here also grow water chestnut and straw mushroom when their lands are flooded, raise blue-legged prawn and fish, and make tools and nets for fishing.

Le Van Hung, head of the Dong Thap Steering Committee for Search and Rescue, Flood and Storm Control and Prevention Office, said last year's floods had killed 20 people and damaged property worth 1 trillion dong ($47.62 million) in the province.

This year already natural disasters have caused damage worth more than 46 billion dong, he said.

The province is mobilising all its resources ahead of the flood and storm season to lessen their damage and protect people and their properties, he said.

The People's Committee has ordered local authorities to soon move people out of erosion-prone areas. An estimated 1,200 families live in such areas.

Tien Giang Province has also been preparing for the flood-storm season, upgrading dykes, relocating people from erosion sites, and drafting plans to evacuate people in coastal areas in case of major storms, according to the local Steering Committee for Search and Rescue, Flood and Storm Control and Prevention.

Around 5,000 hectares of the third rice crop in Cai Be, Cai Lay, Tan Phuoc, and Chau Thanh Districts are in flood-prone areas where dykes are weak.

The province will provide grass-roots officials and more than 5,000 people training in disaster relief.

Long An and Soc Trang Provinces and Can Tho have also undertaken measures against floods: authorities have reviewed preparations at local levels, construction and upgrade of dykes, and mobilisation of relief workers and equipment for search and rescue. US$1 = 20,845 Vietnamese dong

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