Danish Ambassador on visiting tour of Ben Tre for climate change surveillance

On October 22 and 23, 2008, Danish Ambassador to Viet Nam Peter Lysholt Hansen made a visiting tour of Ben Tre for a reality check of the effects of climate change on the lives of local people in the province.

Geographically located along the seaside, Ben Tre has 4 of the largest river mouths of the MekongRiver to pour into the EasternSea (in Vietnamese meaning "The sea to the East"). Here, the issue of climate change is indicated in various forms, such as the frequency of storms and floods, the rise of sea level, the influx of brackish water deep into inland waters. These are having worse and worse effects on the production and people's living activities.

In An Dien Commune, Thanh Phu District, in addition to the current protective forest areas, systems of sea breakwater are rather simple, which may be suitable for aquatic culture, while clean water for living activities is still a great difficulty. Locals typically utilise sources of natural rain water and well-water for their daily life, which are not guarranteed to be free of toxic contaminants. Difficulties are specially worsened in dry season, when brackish water infusion is severe.

In Thoi Thuan Commune, Binh Dai District, another seafront locality, which is a the largest ground for natural clam growing in the region and a great source of jobs and incomes for local people. In the past years, though no exact effects by climate change were reported, annual climate reports still show an increase of heat and brackishness in dry season, specifically in March and April, resulting in an environmental as well as natural foodchain changes causing more dead clams than before. If climate change maintains its momentum, it is predicted that in a not so far future, a rise of sea level not only affects the clam grounds but also causes more hardship for residents living around the region.

After a tour of reality check, Mr Hansen had a meeting with Mr Nguyen Quoc Bao, the Vice Chairman of Ben Tre's People's Committee. Also joining the meeting were leaders of Ben Tre's Departments of Planning and Investment, Natural Resources and Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development. Mr Hansen said that in the cooperation program between the two countries, Danish Government was very interested in the issue of climate change. He also said that Danish Government would help finance and send specialised experts to support Viet Nam carry out the program in Ben Tre and Quang Nam provinces in order to send a warning sign to the whole region about the running climate change as well as a message on how to cope with it. The program is planned to be kicked start in 2009.

Translated by Tuyet Anh