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Vietnam: Fishermen helpless in the face of drought

Vietnam: Fishermen helpless in the face of drought

On the banks of the reservoir that powers one of Vietnam’s major hydroelectric power plants, Dang Thi Phuong points out the cracked soil where fish, their source of income, lived before the drought.

After a heat wave, between a record May temperature (44.1°C) and an unprecedented drought, the water level in northern Vietnam has reached alert level, plunging a population dependent on water resources into serious economic hardship.

Photo: AFP

Scientists say global warming is making extreme weather worse, and Vietnam, like many countries in South and Southeast Asia, has suffered a prolonged heat wave in recent weeks.

At the Thac Ba hydroelectric power station in Yen Bai province, 160 kilometers north of the capital, Hanoi, water in the reservoir has reached its lowest level in 20 years, according to state media, at 15-20 cm below the minimum level needed for operation. from the plant.

Photo: AFP

The nearby Chai River is nothing more than a stream, with the falling waters revealing its rocky bottom.

“Usually, I could earn up to three million dong (115 euros) a month fishing in the lake, but now I have nothing left,” said the 42-year-old Fung.

Even his buffaloes suffer from this deficiency, as they can no longer bathe in the shallow waters.

She is also concerned about the rice fields and her family.


“We use water from a nearby well for our rice field. It has dried up this year,” she told AFP.

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“If things continue like this, I’m afraid we won’t have water for our daily lives,” she said.

The drought has put pressure on the electricity supply in North Vietnam, causing sudden and increasingly frequent blackouts that hurt the economic sector.

This crisis is especially hitting the manufacturing sector, which is crucial for the country, whose factories are no longer operating normally, according to leaders interviewed by AFP.

On land, Huang Fan Tian, ​​a 60-year-old fisherman, said that although there are fish, it is too hot to stay in the water.

“I’ve had this kind of dehydration before, but it wasn’t that hot,” he says.

“Today it is too hot to go to the lake (to fish). The weather is very good. I sit on the boat with a blanket to cover myself, but the heat rises from the water and burns my skin.”