People in the Central Highlands and nearby provinces are facing the worst drought of the decade, struggling to find drinking water and watching their crops and cattle die.
But 400 kilometers to their north, three people drowned last month due to unusual floods as rainfall hit more than 500 millimeters, the highest in March since 1965.
“What’s going on?” a resident asked in a question sent to the environment minister during a televised Q&A program early this month.
“It’s climate change,” Minister Nguyen Minh Quang told national broadcaster Vietnam Television.
He said the impacts are becoming more extreme in Vietnam, one of the five most affected countries in the world, and the cost of that extremity will rise to 9 percent of GDP from the end of the century.
“It’s a terrible figure.”
The damage caused by climate change between 2001 and 2010 was around 1.5 percent of Vietnam's GDP as more severe and frequent disasters left around 9,500 people dead and missing.
Quang said that in 2100, the temperature in Vietnam will be two to three Celsius degrees higher and the sea level will rise by another one meter.
A fifth of the country’s largest and busiest city Ho Chi Minh will be underwater, so as 39 percent of the Mekong Delta and 10 percent of the Red River Delta.
The ministry said Vietnam at the present cannot afford to do anything about climate change other than learning to live with it.
He said one effective adaptation method is to plant mangrove forests, or in other words, recovering those that the country has spent years destroying for agriculture development.
Over the past 70 years Vietnam has lost around 2,420 square kilometers of mangrove forests to agriculture projects, mostly shrimp farms.
The country’s job now is to bring them back, the minister said.