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Archive for the ‘Vietnam Environment’ Category

Australia, ADB to grant $1.3 mln for Mekong delta efforts in climate change

In Vietnam Environment on January 15, 2010 at 9:20 am

Vietnam will get technical assistance grants totaling US$1.3 million from the Australian Government and the Asian Development Bank to carry out a full assessment of the climate change threats posed to the Mekong Delta, the bank announced Wednesday.

An ADB statement from the bank’s headquarters in Manila said the grants would also help Vietnam take actions in the face of an expected sea-level increase and more frequent and severe floods.

The Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam is home to a fifth of the 83-million population, and the main producer of rice. But it is the country’s most vulnerable region to climate change.

A brackish forest map of Ca Mau Province (map by the Vietnam Environment Administration)

Preliminary studies show that up to 31% of the total land used for agriculture and aquaculture in the delta is at risk from a potential one meter rise in the sea level by 2100. This would have severe effects on the lives of about 4.8 million people, including over a million and a half poor.

 “Effective climate change adaptation measures urgently need to be developed and integrated into the region’s development planning to enhance the physical and economic climate-resilience of the region and to protect poor and rural households,” Yongping Zhai, lead professional energy specialist in the ADB’s Southeast Asia Department, said in Wednesday’s statement.

The areas selected for detailed analysis and piloting under the technical assistance project are the coastal provinces of Kien Giang and Ca Mau, while the sectors chosen are energy, transport and agriculture, with the latter at the center of the Vietnamese government’s national action plan for climate change adaptation, according to the ADB.

The total cost of the project is US$1.63 million equivalent, with the Australian Government providing an US$800,000 grant, which will be administered by the ADB. The bank is supplying US$500,000 from its Climate Change Fund, while the Vietnamese Government will provide the remaining US$330,000, the bank said.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is the executing agency for the project which will be carried out from January 2010 to April 2011.

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Japanese company fined for environmental violations

In Vietnam Environment on January 11, 2010 at 5:54 am

The Da Lat-Japan Food (DJF) Company has been fined VND86 million (US$4,500) for discharging wastewater into the Da Nhim River in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong and for other environmental violations. 

Da Lat-Japan Food Company releases untreated wastewater into the Da Nhim River in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong

The provincial People’s Committee said in its penalizing decision that DJF has not filed environmental reports according to regulations, has discharged untreated industrial wastewater into the Da Nhim River, and has not paid environmental protection fees.
The committee also suspended the operation of the company’s frozen vegetables and fruits processing and production factory until it treats its wastewater according to standards.
The company is being asked to pay more than VND183 million (US$9,600) in environmental protection fees which they have yet to pay.
DJF, a whole Japan invested company, is the first company in Lam Dong to be penalized for violating environmental protection laws. 

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Nha Trang eco-group releases thousands of sea creatures

In Vietnam Environment on December 29, 2009 at 11:14 am

The Management Board of the Sea Preservation Zone in Nha Trang Bay released thousands of sea species at Mun Islet on December 28 in an effort to repopulate the marine ecosystem.

An expert of the Nha Trang Sea Preservation Zone releases marine species on Hon Mun Islet on December 28. (Photo: Dat Viet Newspaper)

The creatures included 2,000 sea horses, 1,000 trochidaes, 300 holothurians, and khoang co fish (amphiprion and premnas).

The sea horses and khoang co fish were bred using artificial insemination at the Nha Trang Oceanography Institute.

The event was held as part of activities to celebrate Vietnam Biological Diversification Day (December 29).

The natural ecosystem of Hon Mun Islet has improved significantly thanks to recent protection efforts and breeding programs initiated by the Sea Preservation Zone and the Nha Trang Oceanography Institute.

Eco-tourism has also improved in the area along with the population of fish available to local fishermen.

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Youth undertake environmental awareness campaign

In Vietnam Environment on December 28, 2009 at 7:49 am

More than 1,000 young people from 11 cities and provinces around the country took part in an environmental awareness program on December 27. The youth rode bicycles and performed activities aimed at raising awareness about the negative impacts of using plastic bags.

Young people in Ho Chi Minh City create pictures using plastic on December 27 to spread a message about the importance of environmental protection. (Photo: Tuoi Tre)

The event was organized by the Global Citizen Program, Vietnam Association for Conversation of Nature and Environment, and the Cycling For Environment (C4E) club.

In Ho Chi Minh City, more than 30 young people gathered at Tao Dan Park, District 1 for a cycling tour in the city.

Others created pictures using plastic to spread a message about the importance of environmental protection.

La Thuy Diem Hang, a student from the HCM City University of Science said she hopes that as a result of the project, people will reduce their use of plastic bags.

On the same day, more than 10,000 students took part in a walk at Tan Phu Ward, district 7 to raise funds to build 200 toilets for Vietnamese children. The event was organized by the Ho Chi Minh City Committee of HCM Communist Youth Union in collaboration with Vietnam Unilever Company.

Vim, a trademark of Vietnam Unilever, donated VND 1.5 billion during the walk to start the publicly-funded project.

In Hanoi, members of C4E created a large globe out of plastic measuring 2 meters in diameter. The model will be sold at auction with the money going to buy lifejackets for children who live near waterways.

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Lack of leadership, funds stalls river cleanup

In Vietnam Environment on December 17, 2009 at 2:11 pm

The Dong Nai River, which provides water for 16 million residents in 12 southern provinces and cities, is slowly dying of pollution. Leaders have failed to enforce protection policies while funding for cleanup efforts was last proposed several years ago.

The polluted Dong Nai River which supplies water to more than 16 million residents in Southern Vietnam. A proposed project to clean up the waterway has failed to get off the ground. (Photo: SGGP)

In 2005, the Ho Chi Minh City Environmental Protection Agency proposed relevant agencies spend VND1 trillion (US$54 million) to clean-up and protect the river. But to date, no action has been taken.

Hoang Duong Tung from the Center for Environmental Monitoring, Data and Information said the Dong Nai River valley is exposed to effluent from 10,000 industrial production companies, and 70 industrial zones (IZ)s and export processing zones (EPZ)s.

The river, which also supplies water to the area’s agriculture production and aquatic farms, is poisoned with 600,000 cubic meters of industrial wastewater a day.

In addition, the river receives millions of cubic meters of harmful wastewater from mineral exploitation, households, health centers, trade villages, garbage dumps, agriculture and aquatic farming.

Of these, the most worrying problem is wastewater from mineral exploitation of metals in Lam Dong and Dong Nai provinces; of nonmetals in Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An Provinces and HCMC; and of bauxite and gold in Lam Dong and Dac Nong provinces.

Most of these mines are opencast and use primitive means of operation.

Lives in jeopardy

According to the General Department of Environment Protection, the polluted river negatively affects residents’ livelihoods and more alarmingly, their health.

High levels of metallic waste and harmful pesticides have been found in many species living in the river and surrounding plants.

These substances accumulate in humans as well, and can lead to sudden gene mutations, a host of diseases including cancer, and even death.

Associate Professor and Doctor Nguyen Van Phuoc from the Natural Resources and Environment Institute said there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence of  “cancer villages” in Vietnam. These communities, usually exposed to high levels of environmental toxins, have reported similarly high levels of cancer cases.

Most residents are unaware, however, of the disastrous effects of pollution on their health.

Protection project fails to take flight

Professor Lam Minh Triet, head of the HCM City Environmental Protection Agency, said a 12-point project to protect the Dong Nai River was proposed several years ago.

Accordingly, the first measure was to set up the Dong Nai River Environment Protection Committee chaired in turn by the 12 provinces and cities’ People’s Committees chairmen.

Total capital for the clean-up effort from central and local budgets and businesses, proposed in 2005, was about VND1 trillion (US$54 million).

The project was approved by the Government in 2007, however, none of the provinces or cities stepped up to participate in the process.

Today, pollution levels in the river have skyrocketed. Numerous IZs and EPZs have sprung up and continue to contaminate the water. Thus, the 2005 cost estimate of cleaning up Dong Nai River would likely be inadequate now.

Related article:
Dong Nai River on verge of death

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Northern residents fight sea invasion

In Vietnam Environment on December 15, 2009 at 2:38 am

Inhabitants of Kim Son District in northern Ninh Binh Province have been tackling the problem of seawater encroachment for nearly 200 years. Rather than allowing highly saline water to inundate mainland areas, citizens have worked to reclaim land and create more opportunities for farming.

Work is carried out on the Binh Minh dyke in the northern province of Ninh Binh. The dyke is part of efforts to stop seawater from encroaching into the mainland of Kim Son District. (Photo: SGGP)

Kim Son is now three times wider than it was 180 years ago. Eighty-two-year-old Party Committee Secretary of the province’s Binh Minh farm area, Tran Trung Dinh, remembers how soldiers worked to reclaim a huge piece of land in 1957-1958. They created 823 more hectares, which spanned 10 kilometers in length.

Binh Minh is now home to 1,161 households, most of whom practice farming, said the chairman of Binh Minh People’s Committee, Pham Van Nghiem.

In 1980, the town began planting rice on the alluvial land the soldiers had reclaimed, said Mr. Nghiem. The soil proved to be highly conducive to planting rice.

“In the past, farmers didn’t use fertilizers,” said Mr. Nghiem. “Instead, they usually took muddy red water from the sea.”

Kim Son was also one of the first districts in the north to harvest an impressive five tons of rice per hectare in the Red River delta.  

The encroachment of seawater into mainland areas has led to difficulties in farming production for other communities that haven’t taken action. In addition, recent abnormal weather patterns have led to shorter winters, more sunshine, and additional insects that cause diseases in rice plants, Chairman Nghiem said.

Low-lying Kim Son District is one of the country’s most vulnerable areas to sea encroachment and natural disasters. But thanks in part to depositions by the Can and Day rivers, residents are able to reclaim 80-100 meters of land each year.

It is predicted that if the sea level increases by one meter, over 5 percent of Vietnam’s land would be submerged, affecting 10 million people or 11 percent of the population. It would also reduce 7 percent of agricultural output and 10 percent of gross domestic product.

According to international experts, the Mekong River Delta and the Red River Delta – Vietnam’s largest rice producing regions – would experience some of the most serious consequences of sea-level rise. Coastal cities and provinces would also suffer.

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Hong River drops to lowest level in centuries

In Vietnam Environment on December 7, 2009 at 3:53 am

The water level of the Hong (Red) River has dropped alarmingly, seriously affecting agricultural production and waterway traffic in Hanoi and northern provinces, said Dang Ngoc Tinh, head of the Northern Hydrographic Department.

The sharp recession of the Hong (Red) River has exposed the foundation of the Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi. (Photo: SGGP)

Normally, the Hong River and other rivers in the north see a drop in volume in February or March each year, but this year has seen it recede sooner and more dramatically.

In particular, the area between the Long Bien and Thanh Tri bridges in Hanoi has seen much lower levels than normal.

On average, upstream levels of the river in November were 0.73 meters lower than the annual average, said Luu Minh Hai, deputy head of the Lao Cai Hydrometeorology Forecasting Center.

The water level measured on November 3 in the Long Bien section was 0.76 meters high, lower than the 0.80 meters in 2008.

It is the lowest level recorded in the past 200 years.

Several sightseeing boats in the capital have had to suspend operations, as many sections of the river are now too shallow to travel through.

Nguyen Thi Lan Chau, deputy head of the National Center for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting, said the current dry season could mean that water levels stay low for the next few months.

The north has seen little rain for many weeks, contributing to the problem, said Mr. Tinh.

In November, water circulation in the Hong River decreased by 57 percent and this month may see a decrease of more than 60 percent, he said.

Mr. Tinh warned that the lack of water for farming activities would get worse in the coming dry months, especially in February and March 2010.

To address the issue, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development recently organized two meetings to discuss solutions to the dilemma.

The ministry asked affected provinces to reserve water and take measures to minimize damage caused by the drought.

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Empowering women key to combating climate change

In Vietnam Environment on November 19, 2009 at 11:32 am

International climate change agreements and national policies are more likely to succeed in the long run if they take into account population dynamics, relations between the sexes, and women’s well-being and access to services and opportunities, according to The State of World Population 2009, launched on November 19, 2009  by the United Nations in Vietnam and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE).

“Climate policies that fail to take people, especially women, into account will neither make climate change manageable nor shield anyone from the potentially disastrous impacts,” says Bruce Campbell, United Nations Population Fund Representative in Vietnam.

Over the past 100 years, the temperature of the earth’s surface has risen 0.74 degrees Celsius. This seemingly small increase has already been linked to more severe and frequent storms, extended droughts, melting glaciers and rising sea levels, all of which are taking a toll on lives and livelihoods, especially in developing countries. Southeast Asia is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change with its extensive, heavily populated coastlines, large agricultural sectors and large numbers of people living in poverty.

According to climate change scenarios for Vietnam, which were recently launched by MONRE, the average temperature in Vietnam will rise 2.3 degrees Celsius above the average level of the 1980-1999 period, and the sea level will rise by at least 0.75 meters by the end of the 21st century. Also according to these scenarios, about 76,000 square kilometers of the Mekong Delta, which makes up more than 20 percent of the total delta area, will be flooded.

“The consequences of climate change are very serious and will have negative impacts on the country’s poverty reduction goals as well as the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development,” says Mr. Nguyen Van Duc, vice minister of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE).

The impacts of climate change, which include rising sea levels in low-lying coastal areas as well as severe droughts and floods, also suggest that an increasing number of people will migrate in the future for mainly environmental reasons. While no reliable figure exists, it is estimated that 25 million people worldwide are already displaced by environmental changes.

“Where women have access to education, livelihoods, voluntary family planning and other health services, they have healthier families and are empowered to better cope with the impacts of climate change,” concludes Campbell. However, the advantages of increasing women’s educational attainment go well beyond influencing the climate, since investing in women also contributes to development and the eradication of poverty.

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Mekong Delta should focus on coping with climate change, official says.

In Vietnam Environment on November 14, 2009 at 10:34 am

The Mekong Delta is a “hot spot” for climate change, which is a concern for Vietnam, as well as the world, so relevant agencies should focus on the situation, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Pham Khoi Nguyen, has said.

Farmers work in a rice paddy in the Mekong Delta. The region has recently seen a rise in problems caused by climate change.

Speaking at the first forum of “Climate change in the Mekong Delta,” which wrapped up November 13 in Can Tho City, Mr. Nguyen said the impacts of climate change have already been seen in the delta, with an increase of high tides, storms, floods, droughts and sea-water infiltration.

Therefore, he said, scientists and relevant agencies should choose the delta as a center for their research and help create solutions to ease those negative impacts.

The result of research in the delta will serve as experiences for other regions around the world to deal with the climate change, he said.

There should be a specific plan of action following the forum to improve the public’s knowledge of climate change and to cope with developments of climate change.

The region’s social and economic development plan should also be re-considered so that it can adapt to climate change, he said.

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Phu Yen authorities free endangered turtle

In Vietnam Environment on September 27, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Phu Yen Province’s aquatic authorities released an endangered green turtle back into the sea on September 24, a few days after it was caught by fishermen when it strayed into a cage they were using to breed fish and shrimp.

The 120 kilogram green turtle is released into the sea in Phu Yen Sep. 24 (Photo: VNA)

Nguyen Ngoc Son, 42, of Tuy Hoa City had bought the 120 kg, 1.4 meter long animal from the fishermen and put it in a glass tank at home, thinking it was about to lay eggs. But when it did not, he decided to inform the authorities for releasing it back into the sea.

The central province’s Sub-Department for Aquatic Resources Protection took possession of the reptile and released it into the sea.

This green turtle species is listed in the Red Book.

Source: SGGP