24 April 2024 - Global

Vietnam’s El Niño-induced drought leaves about 73,900 households in Mekong River Delta with limited access to fresh water

Press Release Card
HANOI, 24 April – About 73,900 households[1], or about 77,000 children based on an estimate by Save the Children, in Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta have limited access to fresh water[2] following a weeks-long heatwave that has seen salt seep into fresh water sources in the country’s biggest rice growing region.
Seawater flows into the Mekong River Delta, located in the far south of the country, every year but the low-lying delta, also known as Vietnam’s rice bowl, has become extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change.[3]
So far, three provinces in the country have declared a state of emergency. Salt intrusion levels are currently higher than multiyear averages but not as bad as in 2016 when Vietnam experienced its worst drought in almost 100 years.
Vietnam is not alone. Southeast Asia is reeling from hot weather and a longer-than-usual dry season which has led to school closures and drought across region.[4] 
The drought in Vietnam is serious enough for the government of Vietnam – the world’s third largest rice exporter – to urge farmers to bring the annual rice harvest forward.
The Mekong Delta has one of the highest child poverty rates in Vietnam[5] and its communities, which depend on rice farming and fishing, are often the first to feel the effect of climate change on their food security and their livelihoods.
Many families who have been left without fresh water have had to scramble to buy water at higher-than-usual prices.
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Vietnam’s government says that the drought will last until May.
Save the Children is a member of Vietnam’s Country Disaster Management Working Group and is supporting some 700 households in Ca Mau Province, including about 1,400 children, by providing cash to families hurt by the drought.
Ms. Le Thi Thanh Huong, Country Director of Save the Children Vietnam, said:
"The drought, saline intrusion and climate change in the Mekong River Delta have resulted in negative consequences to children including on their health, safety, and their access to education. In Vietnam, Save the Children works closely with our governmental partners to respond to humanitarian issues as well as to address the needs of children through essential support."
Save the Children works in 22 provinces in Vietnam in partnership with government agencies, civil society organizations, the private sector and academic institutions to deliver programs in the areas of education, health and nutrition, child protection, child rights governance, child poverty, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
[1] According to estimates by Save the Children teams working in the affected areas.

[1] Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development report April 6, 2024
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