Viet Nam

Uncontrollable population growth issue impacts on environment in the southeast region

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The rapid urbanization associated with the population explosion and industrialization has created an imbalance in the ecology of the Southeast Region. It is the area where the proportion of urban population has increased faster than the nation’s average rate of population growth. Much of this population growth represents a shift of population from rural to urban. When the population is large, it requires better infrastructure, along with sanitation, transport, housing conditions and other facilities. In addition, the population growth also leads to negative impacts on the environment such as increasing waste water, household waste, and other industrial wastes due to human has increased their activities of industrial production.

Southeast (SE) Region includes these provinces and cities: Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Dong Nai, Tay Ninh, Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan; SE Region’s coastline stretches from Can Duoc to Ninh Thuan.

The West and Southwest adjacent to Mekong River Delta (MRD), is the supply of raw agricultural materials for the processing industry. The East and Southeast adjacent to East Sea is a place rich in fishery, oil, gas resources. East Sea is the international maritime corridor, making Southeast Region become an important position. The North and Northeast adjacent to Khanh Hoa, Lam Dong, and Cambodia is the localities with great potential for industrial plants, forest resources and large mineral reserves.

The population of SE Region in 2000 was 12,066.8 thousand people occupied 15.54% of the national population, the population of SE Region in 2006 was 13,798.4 thousand people accounted for 16.4% of the national population. The population density was 347 persons per km2 in 2000, and then the density in 2006 was 396 persons per km2. Currently, the density still tends to increase sharply.

The population of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is the largest in the entire SE Region, the population of HCMC in 2000 accounted for 49.8% of the region’s population, the population of HCMC in 2006 occupied 50.6% of the region’s (Statistical Yearbook 2006, p.20, p.43).

SE Region has the highest urban population in the country (accounting for 30.35% of the country in 2006 and occupying 57.4% of SE Region, which is especially HCMC’s urban population accounted for 76.7% of the whole region.

Because of young population and high immigration amount, labor growth rate in the region is quite high. This is potentially abundant labor resources, but also the burden of job creation and improved living standards and infrastructure investment. The uncontrollable population growth issue greatly impacts on the environment.

The population of our country now ranks 3rd in Southeast Asia and 14th in the world. It is one of the countries with the highest population density in the world. Particularly, in 1991-1995, HCM City’s average growth rate was 2.51%/year, in 2001-2006; the growth rate was 2.63%/year (Ho Chi Minh City Statistical Yearbook 2000, 2004, 2005, Statistical Yearbook 2006, p.41). The population increase will be the risk of affecting the sustainable development of the country.

Southeast Region with a high population density is enormous pressure for jobs, providing basic services, economic and social development and environmental protection. SE Region is the economic area with the highest growth rate of the country but there is a range of resource – environmental issues becoming more serious. One of the direct causes is the pressure of population growth.

The population distribution is an important factor of development. SE Region’s population is 13.8 million accounted for 16.4% of the country, while its land occupies 10.5% (Statistical Yearbook 2006, p.20, p.41)... Because the migrations from plain to mountainous areas, from rural to urban, from North to South are still happening massively and uncontrollably, it leads to a direct impact on resources and environment. The population size is growing that creates greater consumption pressure, accompanied by the demand for public utilities such as electricity, water, hospitals, schools, housing, water supply and drainage, and other residential demands rising, makes the use of infrastructure works and systems overloaded. The population increases so that the demand for food increases, lack of arable land leads to intensive cultivation, reclamation to expand cultivation land on sloping hills increases soil erosion, causes degradation, infertile soil. Therefore, use of chemical fertilizers and plant protection chemicals makes land resources, surface water sources of the mainland contaminated. Reclamation makes area of ​​forestland narrowed, depletion of natural resources, natural environment polluted.

On the other hand, the population growth was accompanied by an increase in social problems such as rising unemployment rate. A part of the population is out of work, poor living conditions lead to social evils. Increasing the amount of wastewater, waste and emissions, vehicles leads to polluted environment and traffic jams. The development of the Southeastern population size keeps increasing that causes environmental pollution due to human activities affecting to human health and economic damage. For example, HCMC "lost" 14,000 billion VND for traffic jams annually. That amount equals to nearly half the domestic revenues of HCMC in 2006, equivalent to the loss of bird flu in the country and it is enough to build the irrigation system for the entire Mekong River Delta in the 2006-2010 period (E-magazine in Friday, 21/09/2007).

Le Mai