The Mekong Delta: land subsidence threatens Vietnam’s “food basket”

Environmental health Land use Agriculture Water security Food security Vietnam

The Mekong Delta, which is located in southern Vietnam, is one of the most important food-producing regions in South-East Asia. It is under growing threat from a combination of: rising water demand from other sectors of the economy; land subsidence; sea level rise; and rising levels of salinity. As the delta produces enough food for almost 200 million people, any significant reduction in agricultural production would reduce global food security.

Key points:

  • The Mekong Delta is the most agriculturally productive region of Vietnam. Most of the country’s rice, aquaculture and fruit production is located there.
  • Vietnam is the second-largest rice exporter in the world. The Mekong Delta produces enough food for almost 200 million people and any significant reduction in agricultural output would have consequences for global food security.
  • Unsustainable agricultural practices, rising sea levels, land subsidence, the construction of dams on the Mekong River and increased soil and water salinisation threaten to reduce the productivity of the region’s agricultural sector.
  • The causes of most of those challenges are beyond Vietnam’s control. Reducing the use of groundwater in the delta is the best option available to it.
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