The First Climate Refugees In Vietnam.
The Mekong Delta, a region that provides half of Vietnam’s rice and 60 percent of its shrimp and fish, has been worst hit by salination. Vietnam says the saltwater intrusion in the delta is unprecedented where low river levels have allowed seawater to penetrate 90 km (56 miles) inland, ruining vast swathes of cropland in the fertile delta. Moreover, the delta, much of which is only two meters or less above sea level, has been sinking in recent years due to rising sea levels and massive groundwater extraction from an ever-increasing number of wells. Depleted water tables compact the ground, allowing seawater to intrude into cropland and water supplies. Furthermore, around 39 hydro-electric dams built or under development in China, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia to meet the industrial demands of these developing economies are also endangering traditional agriculture downstream, where there is now less fresh water for drinking and irrigation. Vietnam is also suffering its most severe drought in 90 years, blamed partly on the El Nino weather phenomenon, which produces drier and hotter weather. Altogether, this is contributing to a wave of climate refugees unheard of in the country.
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