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Cablegate: Vietnam Suffering Severe Drought in Some Areas

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

120853Z Apr 05

ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 AID-00 CEA-01 CIAE-00 CTME-00
INL-00 DODE-00 ITCE-00 DOTE-00 EB-00 ED-01 EXME-00
E-00 FAAE-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00 FDRE-01 VC-00 FRB-00
IML-00 TEDE-00 INR-00 INSE-00 IO-00 L-00 VCE-00
MOFM-00 MOF-00 AC-00 NEA-00 DCP-00 NRC-00 NSAE-00
NSCE-00 OES-00 OIC-00 OMB-00 NIMA-00 EPAU-00 GIWI-00
ACE-00 SP-00 IRM-00 SSO-00 SS-00 STR-00 TRSE-00
SA-00 FMP-00 BBG-00 EPAE-00 IIP-00 SCRS-00 PRM-00
DRL-00 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /003W
------------------DCBC40 120906Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7315
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
USMISSION GENEVA
AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU
ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
USDA WASHDC
DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

UNCLAS HANOI 000857

SIPDIS


STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV
USDOC FOR 4430/MAC/ASIA/OPB/VLC/HPPHO
STATE FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA KISAACS, GGOTTIEB
STATE FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA MMARX, RTHAYER, BDEEMER
STATE FOR USAID/DCHA DAA WILLIAM GARVELINK
BANGKOK FOR USAID/OFDA SENIOR REGIONAL ADVISOR TOM DOLAN
KATHMANDU FOR OFDA REGIONAL ADVISOR WILLIAM BERGER
GENEVA FOR USAID NANCE KYLOH
USDA FOR FAS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR EAID ECON ENRG VM
SUBJECT: VIETNAM SUFFERING SEVERE DROUGHT IN SOME AREAS

REF: A) HANOI 773, B) HCMC 0307, C) 04 HCMC 1493

1. (SBU) Summary: The South Central and Central Highland
regions of Vietnam are experiencing a severe drought.
According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and
Rural Development (MARD), an estimated 1.12 million people
are facing daily water shortages and more than 500,000
people are suffering from hunger due to the drought. While
the Government of Vietnam (GVN) has not officially requested
international assistance, non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) have been invited by provincial counterpart agencies
to mobilize emergency relief assistance to drought-stricken
areas. Forecasts in April call for continued lack of
rainfall and high temperatures (as high as 40 degrees
Celsius). Although the rainy season in the Central
Highlands usually starts in May, the rainy season in the
Coastal Central provinces normally does not start until
September. Mission Vietnam is monitoring the situation
carefully and stands ready to provide further updates and to
seek possible emergency disaster assistance, should the
conditions deteriorate further. End Summary.

2. (U) The South Central and Central Highland regions of
Vietnam are experiencing a severe drought. According to
MARD, an estimated 1.12 million people are facing daily
water shortages and more than 500,000 people are suffering
from hunger due to the current severe drought. MARD
estimates that damages to agriculture and livestock in the
five Central Highlands provinces are about USD 113 million
so far. According to Dak Lak Provincial Department of
Planning and Investment officials, the province's coffee
industry has lost at least half of its coffee crop this
season with an estimated value of USD 38 million.
Unconfirmed news reports indicate that Ninh Thuan and Binh
Thuan Provinces are the most affected in the South Central
region with estimated USD 8 million each in damages. Save
the Children estimates that in Ninh Thuan Province,
irrigation systems are currently at only 25 to 40 percent of
water capacity, planted areas have been reduced more than
half and livestock counts are down dramatically.

3. (U) In addition to hunger and lack of water, secondary
impacts of the drought reportedly include saltwater
intrusion in lowland coastal areas of the Mekong Delta and a
heightened risk of forest fires. Several Mekong Delta
provinces including Bac Lieu, Ben Tre, Ca Mau, Hau Giang,
Kien Giang, Long An, Soc Trang and Tra Vinh have experienced
seawater encroachment into fields 20-50 kilometers inland.
Seawater has also contaminated household drinking wells.
The drought has also affected Vietnam's power industry,
especially hydropower plants, which may result in
electricity shortages in the near future (Ref A). There is
no relief in the immediate future. Relief may come sooner
in the Central Highlands where the rainy season usually
starts in May than in the Coastal Central provinces where
the rains come in September.

4. (U) According to the American Red Cross (ARC), the Prime
Minister has allocated USD 700,000 for disaster relief
efforts. Unconfirmed news reports, however, indicate that
the government will provide USD 6.3 million for drought
relief efforts to agencies in Binh Thuan, Dak Lak, Dak Nong,
Gia Lai, Khanh Hoa, Kon Tum, Lam Dong, Ninh Thuan and Phu
Yen provinces of central and south-central Vietnam. The ARC
has confirmed that the Prime Minister's office has also
mobilized a donation of rice to aid drought-stricken
communities. Reportedly, the amount is 15,000 tons.

5. (U) Many provinces plan to use government funds to dig
new wells and improve existing irrigation networks in
drought-stricken areas. In Dak Lak Province, over 500
reservoirs have reportedly dried up and local authorities
will reportedly spend USD 1.0 million of provincial funds to
support construction of new wells and supply potable water
to drought-stricken communities, according to ARC officials.

6. (SBU) While the Government of Vietnam (GVN) has not
officially requested international assistance, non-
governmental organizations (NGOs) have been invited by
provincial authorities to mobilize emergency relief
assistance to drought-stricken areas. An NGO disaster
mitigation working group led by Oxfam Great Britain recently
conducted a field mission and is preparing a needs
assessment report. Counterpart International is mobilizing
emergency food assistance to the Central Highlands area.
The ARC has expressed "concern" over the drought situation
and is coordinating a response with its local partners. ARC
officials expect that the drought situation "will escalate
over time" and have begun comparing this year to the
destructive drought in 1998. Although the United Nations
(UN) has not yet provided financial assistance to the GVN,
the UN remains concerned and has requested a Donor's Meeting
with MARD this week, which MARD has now confirmed for April
15.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: While the drought is caused by hydro-
meteorological conditions, and is bad in both regions, its
impact in the Central Highland provinces of Vietnam is
amplified by increasing population pressures, conversion of
primary forest to commercial (i.e. coffee plantations), and
subsistence agriculture, as well as increasing dependence on
water for irrigation and electricity generation over the
past decade. There is no sense of panic yet among local
officials, but a humanitarian crisis is a real possibility
should the drought continue in the coming months. With
weather forecasts calling for continued lack of rainfall and
high temperatures (as high as 40 decrees Celsius), Post is
monitoring the situation carefully and stands ready to
provide further updates and to seek possible emergency
disaster assistance, should conditions deteriorate further.

MARINE


NNNN

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