The Mekong Delta is one of the parts of the world projected to be most impacted by sea level rise. And within the Delta, the coastal districts of Soc Trang Province are considered particularly vulnerable because of the very flat topography. Local people are already observing higher high tides and stronger wave action that break the unconsolidated earth dike that protects them from the sea. The EU-funded project Building Coastal Resilience (BCR) is working in Mo O, a small village in Trung Binh Commune to build local capacity to address this threat.
The 500 people who live in Mo O’s depend for their livelihood on the 60 hectares of melons and peanuts that are grown next to the dike. Every year these plots are impacted by high tides that erode the dike, cause the plots to collapse, and allow seawater to reach the crops, ruining the soil.
The good news is that there is a strong community spirit. “Every time the dike breaks, the villagers work together to rebuild it, even at night. They also maintain the dyke”, says Tran Hoang Quan, a commune government official.
The local authority is very concerned about the situation. They mobilize in-kind contributions from the village such trees to build “sea fences” and labor to repair the dike. They also seek help from BCR and other projects. Nguyen Hoai Phuong, the commune leader declared, “We don’t need the project to pay us; we just need held to restore parts of the sea dike. That’s enough to make us happy.”
Building on this positive outlook, BCR will share the costs of strengthening the dike with the local people. The plan is to plant grasses and other vegetation on top of the dike to make it more resistant to higher tides and stronger waves. We hope that this intervention will provide at least temporary protection from rising sea levels and that this natural approach to reinforcing dikes can be replicated in other parts of the Mekong Delta that face similar problems.
Tang Phuong Gian - BCR Field Coordinator - IUCN Viet Nam