Mekong Delta fights losing battle against salt water

Global Business

Vietnam’s rice region is facing the worst drought to date. Over half a million people have been affected, and the country could lose one million tons of its staple food.

Leaders of six countries along the Mekong River met in China to discuss the relief measures.

CCTV’s Tony Cheng reports.

Mekong Delta fights losing battle against salt water

Vietnam's rice region is facing the worst drought to date. Over half a million people have been affected, and the country could lose one million tons of its staple food. Leaders of six countries along the Mekong River met in China to discuss the relief measures. CCTV's Tony Cheng reports.

When you travel around the Mekong Delta it’s hard to imagine with the rivers so full of water, there’s a drought afflicting this entire region.

But what you can’t see is that this is majority salt water, flowing from the sea.  There’s a nearly 50 percent drop in the level of the water coming down stream, and that’s allowing the sea water to flow in up to 90 kilometers (56 miles) inland.

Every household in Ben Tre province of 1.6 million people now has to buy water.

All of the freshwater is polluted, and they can only hope that rains arrive when expected in late May.

The Mekong splits into nine as it races into the Delta and feeds into the sea.

But over the last two years, the flow from upstream has been reduced by 50 percent and with little rainfall this year, the sea has pushed upstream, threatening the livelihood of all those in the delta.

Many of the Mekong deltas farmers are now forced to sit and wait for the rainy season to start.

This region, known as the rice basket of Vietnam, is seeing its fertile lands polluted by the sea.