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Climate Change Will Put 'Many' Vietnamese Cities Underwater: Official

While residents in the Vietnam's central highlands face the worst drought in years, 400km to the north, three people died last month as a result of “unusual” floods, the likes of which have not been seen since 1965.

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“It’s climate change,” Minister Nguyen Minh Quang told Vietnam Television, adding that extreme weather events are becoming more common in Vietnam.

According to Thanh Nien, between 2001 and 2010, the country lost around 1.5% of its GDP annually due to natural disasters that left 9,500 people dead and missing.

What plans cities like Saigon have to prevent constant flooding are either outdated or incomplete, and generally a combination of the two.

The city’s main flood-prevention plan was devised in 2001 and “based on the assumption that the tidal peak would be 1.32m and rain with a 100mm rainfall would occur only once in five years. Now, tides can peak at 1.7m and rain with an over-100mm rainfall comes down twice a year,” Nguyen Hoang Anh Dung, vice director of the Steering Center for the Urban Flood Control Program told Tuoi Tre.

In the end, however, it seems to come down to funding:

“Calculations indicate that Ho Chi Minh City needs VND59 trillion (US$2.84 billion) for flood prevention projects in 2011-15 but only VND500 billion ($24 million) is released a year during the period,” according to the paper.

Things are set to get even worse over the next century as by 2100, 20% of Saigon, 39% of the Mekong Delta and 10% of the Red River Delta will be underwater.

Quang said one step that can be taken to reduce these figures is to replant 2,240 square kilometers of mangrove forests destroyed in recent years for agricultural development.

Since it’s unlikely that all of the mangroves will be restored, perhaps we can borrow some of China’s terraforming technology to make up the difference?

[Photo via ODT]

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