Viet Nam

Vietnam - Drought and Saltwater Intrusion Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF operation n° MDRVN019


A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

The Mekong River Delta is home to 13 provinces and cities: Long An, Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Dong Thap, Vinh Long, Tra Vinh, Soc Trang, An Giang, Kien Giang, Hau Giang, Bac Lieu and Ca Mau and Can Tho city. Mekong delta has a total population of 19 million people accounting for 21 per cent of country’s population. The Delta is located amid a dynamic and developed economic region, adjacent to the Southern key economic region and next to Southeast Asian countries. Mekong Delta is the largest agricultural, fishery and fruit production hub in Vietnam.

Rice production of the region accounts for 50 per cent of the entire country. The region produces over 90 per cent of the country’s exported rice and more than 60 per cent of the country’s seafood production. Fruit trees hold an important position in the region in particular and in Vietnam in general.
GDP of the Mekong Delta as of June 2019 was 7.8 per cent (the highest in most recent four years).

Under the context of climate change and sea level rise, extreme climatic events occurred and caused adverse impacts of socioeconomic developments to Mekong upstream countries. Particularly, drought and saline intrusion phenomena have manifested. As forecasted (earlier forecast was shared on 20 December 2019), the Mekong Delta is entering its dry season 2019-2020, saltwater is intruding deeper and earlier than that of 2015-2016.


• Small upstream flow volume compared to recent years and annual average; Saline intrusion occurred in complicated manner (earlier, deeper intruding, and ranging), especially in combination with the sophisticated tidal flooding situation;

• Areas 30 - 40km away from the sea: From December 2019, salinity exceeds 4 g/l; from January 2020 onwards, these regions will be unable to get freshwater from estuaries and this will result in the shortage of water supply for domestic uses and production activities;

• Areas 45 - 65 km away from the sea: during January 2019 – April-May 2020; high salinity (> 4g/l) is likely to happen. If rain comes late, saline intrusion may last until June 2020. In this period, during high tide, saline intrusion will advance deeply into inland; when the tide recedes to a low level, freshwater is likely to happen (in one day, the tidal peak contains high salinity, yet at low level of tidal range has low salinity and freshwater can be taken);

• Areas 70-75 km away from the sea, the salinity of 4g/l is not likely to happen; however, cautions to high tides are necessary as this area is still prone to 4g/l salinity where production and domestic activities can be affected.

Given the early onset of saline intrusion which is expected to intrude further inland and last for a longer time, agriculture production in some areas can be affected such as Winter-Spring rice 2019-2020 which is greatly affected by the irrigation water shortage, especially in coastal areas from Jan 2020 onwards; Summer- Autumn rice 2020 shall be seriously affected by saline intrusion if early rains does not come. As a result, (i) production costs increase due to the use of connection pumps (2 to 3 levels) to take advantage of low water level in on-farm canals to control the drought; (ii) in some areas where freshwater supply is unavailable, aquaculture production can be reduced or damaged due to high salinity levels (An Minh, An Bien - Kien Giang province, South National Highway 1A-Bac Lieu province, Thanh Phu and Ba Tri-Ben Tre province); (iii) there is a possibility of freshwater shortage supply for people living in coastal areas, especially in estuary areas (Tan Phu Dong - Tien Giang province, Hoa Minh - Tra Vinh province, Cu Lao Dung - Soc Trang, coastal districts in Ben Tre province.

According to the Viet Nam Disaster Management Authority (VNDMA) under the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development (MARD) that 10 of the 13 provinces with 74/137 districts, in Mekong River Delta are affected by drought and saltwater intrusion. More than 685,000 people across the Mekong Delta have their access to livelihoods and basic services disrupted. The drought and saltwater intrusion and its impacts affect agricultural production, with an estimated loss of production from about 460,000 hectares, limited access to safe water for 200,000 households, who do not have regular and sufficient access to water for drinking and other domestic use.
The conditions have resulted in a water shortage and significant damage to crops, threatening agricultural production, livelihoods, and access to safe water by local people. The situation is worsened, as these provinces are the country’s main rice growing regions.