Drought and saltwater intrusion in Vietnam’s southern and central regions will persist through April, according to experts. Nguyen Dang Quang, a drought expert at the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, said at a Monday forum in Hanoi that the intense El Nino phenomenon from last year will last for two more months.
Temperatures in the central and southern Vietnam in April and May will be around one degree Celsius higher than the average in recent years. “April will be an extremely dangerous time for drought and saltwater intrusion in the regions,” Quang said, as cited by Tuoi Tre newspaper.
Experts at the conference said salinization of the Tien and Hau Rivers, the main tributaries of the Mekong River, will hit an alarmingly high level. Nearly half of the 2.2 million hectares (5.4 million acres) of arable land in the Mekong Delta had been attacked by saltwater and hundreds of thousands of locals are suffering from water scarcity.
Bui Quang Vinh, Minister of Investment and Planning, said at a government meeting last Saturday that the damage to agriculture activities may drag economic growth this year to 5.45 percent, from 6.68 percent in 2015. A report from the Southern Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting said in the southern region the mercury will rise to 39 degrees in April and early May.