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September, 25, 2016

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Vietnam Delta islets lose farmland to erosion

Vietnam--Cao Van Ba, who has lived on the Son Islet in the middle of the Hau (Rear) River for nearly 50 years, fears that he will have no choice but to move to the mainland as erosion is fast destroying his farmland.

"My family has two hectares of farmland near the head of the island, where half of the land has eroded over the last 10 years," the 66-year-old farmer said. The islet, located in Can Tho city's Binh Thuy District, covered 100 hectares but is now only 60 hectares.

Other islets in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, where thousands of families live, are also expected to vanish because of serious erosion.

Formed by silt deposits from the Hau River, Son Islet has many fruit orchards and household farms. Community tourism is also a source of revenue for the families.

But, because of eroded farmland, many families have moved to the mainland, and only 78 households remain.

Pham Van Nhu, of Binh Tan District in Vinh Long Province, who lived on the islet for 10 years, moved to the mainland after losing 8,000 square meters of land from 1978 to 2012. The family had to move 10 times.

"We sold the remaining land at a low price and then moved to the mainland," Nhu said.

After years of excessive sand extraction on the Hau River, landslides along the riverbank have become more severe, causing deep subsidence.

A little further upstream is an islet called Ca Doi, located on the Hau River in Can Tho's Thot Not District.

Erosion has washed most of it away. In 1960, Ca Doi was 4 kilometers long and covered by paddy fields and sugarcane farms.

Due to the fertile soil, many people from nearby Tan Loc Islet and Dong Thap Province's Lap Vo District in the past moved to the islet to cultivate sugarcane and rice.

"Every morning, people came to the islet by boat to take care of their gardens and then returned home in the evening. But no more!" said Le Van Huan, chairman of Fatherland Front Committee of Can Tho City's Thot Not District.

Looking over the expanse of the river, Nguyen Van Con, of Tan Loc Islet, said: "It used to be a large area not far from my home. People could call over to each other from one islet to the other. We could hear them clearly. But now it has vanished."

By 1990, Ca Doi Islet had only 6 hectares, and by 2005, had disappeared completely because of erosion, according to the Thot Not District authority. Another islet, Tan Loc on Hau River, has lost 10 hectares out of 3,334 hectares over the last six years.

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Erosion has affected 265 areas along Mekong Delta rivers and estuaries. Riverbanks totaling 450 kilometers in length have collapsed.(Viet Nam News/ANN)

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