Ca Mau, which once benefited from coastal accretion, is now asking for US$6.7 million from the government to deal with relentless erosion.
Vietnam’s southernmost province has a coastline of more than 250 kilometers and the sea has eaten along 80 percent of it, by 50 meters a year in some parts.
Studies by its agriculture department found that the province has been losing around 305 hectares of mangrove forests to the sea every year, Lao Dong newspaper reported.
The province has spent money piling rocks and putting up concrete breakwaters along the sea to weaken waves and retain alluvium for mangrove forests.
But To Quoc Nam, deputy director of the department, said 15 kilometers of coastline urgently need a concrete embankment, estimated to cost VND150 billion (US$6.7 million), which the province cannot afford.
Nam said the province has made a plea to the prime minister for help.
Studies and satellite images show that the Mekong Delta, Vietnam’s biggest farming region, has been losing 500 hectares (1,235 acres) of land to erosion every year as land accretion fails to make up for areas being washed away.
Local and international conservationists at a conference in Can Tho in June blamed China and Laos’ hydropower dams upstream of the Mekong River and increasing sand mining in Vietnamese rivers for reducing sediments and exposing the region to severe erosion.
Vietnam Rivers Network, the country’s largest advocacy group for water resource protection, 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 would climb to one million.