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After Heatwaves and Wildfires, Central Vietnam Faces Historic Saltwater Intrusion

Heatwaves and droughts have resulted in worrisome salt levels in freshwater supplies that is seriously impacting agriculture and tourism sectors.

Salt levels are reaching 12 to 13 times the normal limits in some areas of central provinces such as Quang Nam, according to Tuoi Tre. In light of inadequate infrastructure and failed pumps, farmers are forced to make their own embankments to protect rice paddies from the harmful mineral. Agricultural output has dropped in response. The issue persists from last year when most of the region's small- and medium-sized reservoirs dried up, though this year it's said to be the worst instance of saltwater intrusion in the past decade.

The saltwater intrusion is also affecting daily life and tourism in places such as Hoi An with wells running dry. The chairman of Hoi An's Cam Thanh Commune in Hoi An explained that 70% of residents are experiencing a shortage of freshwater and many homestays have been forced to close. Residents are forced to travel distances to purchase freshwater.

Areas in the Mekong Delta are suffering a similar problem with similar causes. A lack of rainfall is forcing residents in the fertile region to purchase water and construct water-storage devices. Water prices are rising and yet, as one local farmer explained: "Some areas are far away from provincial centers and inaccessible by trucks, so people there may not have water to use despite having money."

Farmers are being recommended to switch to salt-resistant strains of rice as well as other crops such as watermelon, squash and gourds as well as cultivating shrimps. Additional dams and irrigation methods are also underway. 

Photo via Unicef]

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