The Mekong Delta, Vietnam's biggest farming region, is losing 500 hectares (1,235 acres) of land to erosion every year as land accretion fails to make up for areas being washed away, new evidence suggested.
Studies and satellite images have showed that China and Laos’ hydropower dams upstream the Mekong River and increasing sand mining in Vietnamese rivers have led to less sediment and more severe erosion, experts said at a conference in Can Tho on Friday.
Dao Trong Tu, adviser to Vietnam Rivers Network, the country’s largest advocacy group for water resource protection, said the delta is having 265 erosion hotspots, which if put together can stretch more than 450 kilometers.
Tu said erosion is damaging almost the entire coastline of the delta, known for its vast natural resources.
The network estimated that by 2050, the number of people directly affected by erosion in the delta will climb to one million.
Marc Goichot from conservation organization WWF said that without effective protection measures a part of the delta will disappear.
He said 2,000 satellite images of the delta between 2003 and 2011 showed that 48 percent of areas in the east coast were shrinking and only 22 percent expanding.
They also showed that the sea is eating 12.2 meters every year into the west coast.
He said rivers in the delta are losing 34 million cubic meters or 55 million tons of sediment per year.