Sea encroachment endangers Mekong Delta

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In some Mekong Delta’s provinces, the sea is encroaching on the mainland nearly 100 meters a year. In these areas, houses, land for agriculture production, protective forests and embankments have all been swept away.

Sea encroachment, Mekong Delta

 

A fragment of the coastline in Tien Giang Province has eroded.

 

The coastal protective forest belt in Tan Thanh Commune of Go Cong Dong District in Tien Giang Province was 300 meters thick.

However, the forests protecting dykes from waves and land erosion have disappeared, and the thickness has been cut to 100 meters maximum.

Meanwhile, the continued landslides in the area causes seawater to penetrate more deeply into the mainland by dozens of meters every year, according to Ngo Phi Truong, Chair of Tan Thanh Commune People’s Committee.

In Cau Muong and Tan Phu Hamlets, the seawater has approached the dyke footing, while the high water waves have collapsed three houses in the locality. Some locals have stampeded to escape the sea waves.

“The 1.5 kilometer dyke expanded by four meters in 2012. If it had not been done, the dyke might have broken,” said Le Tran Thu, a local resident.

The shoreline erosion in Duyen Hai District of Tra Vinh Province has been threatening locals for many years.

Before attacking the inland, the sea waves “swallowed” 10 hectares of protective forests.

In late 2013, more than two kilometers of dykes in the communes of Truong Long Hoa, Dan Thanh and Hiep Thanh were eroded.

As the “main line of resistance”, the dyke broke, and nearly 100 apartments and fields were affected by seawater.

“Just within a short time, the sea has taken away a hamlet of the district,” commented Deputy Head of the Southwest Steering Committee Nguyen Phong Quang after he returned from an inspection tour to the district.  

A report of the Ca Mau provincial People’s Committee showed that the total length of the coastline damaged by the end of April 2014 had reached 40 kilometers.

In Soc Trang Province, many sections of the 72 kilometer sea dyke in the districts of Vinh Chau and Cu Lao Dung have been swallowed by the sea.

Meanwhile, the 56 kilometer dykes in Bac Lieu Province reportedly can only stand a 9th-class typhoon.

Struggling to protect land

According to Ngo Phi Truong, Chair of the Tan Thanh Commune in Tien Giang Province, the local authorities have decided to build a “soft dyke” parallel with the sea dyke, which would have a similar role as a protective forest.

However, this is just a temporary solution to protect the dyke and reduce erosion to retain land.

Meanwhile, 40 households are still living in a dangerous area which may suffer from landslides in this year’s stormy season.

Opinions still vary about how to deal with the land erosion.

Nguyen Thien Phap, a Tien Giang provincial official, said it is necessary to build the works with strong materials and grow protective forests.

Phap believes that afforestation should be the main solution for the long term because it is very costly to build a dyke system.

While Tien Giang’s officials are still thinking of “soft measures” to deal with land erosion, Tra Vinh provincial authorities have kicked off a project on a “firm” sea dyke, capitalized at VND204 billion.

TBKTSG/VNN

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