Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 14:34 (GMT+7)

Friday, May 08, 2020, 13:29 (GMT+7)
Naval Region 2 join hands with Southwestern people overcoming the “thirst

Drought and historic salinity intrusion have wreaked havoc on the economy and life of Southwestern people. Facing the situation, together with other forces in the region, cadres and soldiers of the Naval Region 2 have been proactive in helping local people overcoming the thirst.

Mekong Delta – the Southwestern region is the rice, fruit and seafood baskets of the country. Mekong river and the system of canals provide the region with alluvium and fresh water for agricultural production and daily living of more than 20 million people. However, due to the increasing severity of climate change and increased water storage in the upper Mekong regions, this fertile land is facing increasingly popular and severe drought and saltwater intrusion. Especially since the late 2019 to date, drought and saline intrusion have occurred in 12 among 13 provinces of the region. In some areas, saltwater has intruded 80 to 130 km deep into the mainland with the highest salinity ever. According to scientific reports, when the water contains over 01% of salinity, it can’t be used for daily life, and when its salinity exceeds 04%, plants can’t grow and die. In fact, in some localities, at times, salinity reached 08% or even 14%. Water shortage for living and production is very serious, particularly in coastal regions, making rice fields become bare and uncultivated. This has badly affected socio-economic production, people’s life and local military and defence activities.

This situation has been soon anticipated and countered with a number of measures by the Party, State, local authorities and people. Many localities have actively changed their crops to avoid the drought, or changed the kinds of plants and animals to adapt to the situation. A number of projects have been built for drought and salinity prevention and control, such as: the Cong Au Thuyen Ninh Quoi Project in Bac Lieu Province; the Xuan Hoa irrigation system in Tien Giang Province; the North Ben Tre irrigation system, etc. However, given the unpredictability of climate and hydrology, together with the limitation of resources, and the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Southwestern people suffered huge losses. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, by late of March 2020, more than 100,000 households in the Southwestern region suffered from freshwater shortage in general and 20,000 in Ben Tre in particular. In early March 2020, five provinces of Kien Giang, Ben Tre, Tien Giang, Ca Mau and Long An announced the emergency in drought and salinity intrusion.

Brigade 125 of the Naval Region 2 supplies water to people

Facing the situation, implementing the direction of the Navy’s High Command on helping the people overcoming the calamity, the Standing Office of the Party Committee and Command of the Naval Region 2 have opportunely integrated the task of helping people overcoming the drought and saltwater intrusion into the Resolution of the Region in the year of 2020 and considered this an important political mission. Basing on this ground, the Region established a Steering Committee (headed by some members of the Region’s Party Committee) for alleviating the disaster. The Committee has recommended to the leadership and commandant of the Region the systems of documents, plans for coordination and collaborated with local governments, Fatherland Fronts, the Border Guard Commands of the provinces to supply freshwater for needy people. In the short run, the Region supplies water for Ben Tre and Tien Giang provinces which are the two most heavily affected ones. The Region has quickly made preparation in vehicle, human resources and some other measures for assurance, especially technical assurance and nautical charts for travelling into difficult and strange terrains. Besides, the Region’s Party Committee has directed its units and bodies to strengthen education and briefing to make their troops fully aware of the directives, resolutions of the Party, the State, the Central Military Commission, and the Ministry of National Defence, especially the Directive No. 04/CT-TTg of the Prime Minister and the Orders No. 60 and 63 of the General Staff and the direction of the Navy’s High Command on implementing urgent measures for drought and salinity intrusion prevention and control, and consider this a focal task in this period; deeply understand the difficulty and complications, the devastation caused by the drought and salinity intrusion, the hardships that thirsty people are suffering as well as the role and responsibility of the Military in the hard time to raise their determination and will during their task accomplishment.

In order for the water supply to be carried out successfully, the Region actively coordinated with the local armed forces and authorities to prepare the supply spots at the coastal border guard posts with favourable positions. Local military commands and authorities then would transport the water to each household in an appropriate manner. Priorities were given to badly needy, poor and beneficiary households with the motto of “leaving no one behind”. Prior to the 2020 Tet holidays, the first ships carrying freshwater of the Region boarded at Binh Thang Commune, Binh Dai District, Ben Tre Province in the wait and excitement of local people. To date, after over 4 months of supply, three cargo ships have travelled thousands of nautical miles safely, transporting more than 5 million litres of freshwater to 8 districts of two provinces of Ben Tre and Tien Giang. With the spirit of “Serving for the people and sacrificing for the people”, sharing the hardships with the people, several cadres and soldiers of the convoy have worked non-stop even on holidays and Tet. Many supply spots without port, their ships had to board 50m to 100m away from shore, and their soldiers had to swim to the shore to get the water pipe. Not only supplied the water in concentration, cadres and soldiers of the Region also brought the water in small cans and bottles to remote households so that everyone got the needed water. Looking at the way people cherished the water they have longed for, cadres and soldiers of the Region felt more responsible and enthusiastic with what they were suffering. Crews of the ships became thriftier in their water usage to save as much water as possible for the people.

During their task accomplishment, cadres and soldiers of the Region have also talked people to raise their sense of thrift and seriously control clean water sources. The Region coordinated with the Publicity Commission, the Fatherland Front and socio-political unions of Ben Tre Province to launch the “Campaign for implementing urgent measures for preventing, controlling and coping with salinity intrusion in 2020”; spread, instruct and multiply the initiatives in creating and using the water thriftily. These realistic measures have made local people more confident in the leadership of the Party, the management and operation of the State and of local party committees and authorities. They have also become more thoughtful about each other in difficult time. In addition, the Region has coordinated well with the Fatherland Front of Ho Chi Minh Municipality, socio-political organisations, and philanthropists to call for sharing with Southwestern people in the thirst. From the money mobilised, the Region and the Fatherland Front of Ho Chi Minh Municipality bought 1,000 water containers worth at 1 billion dong for needy households in Ben Tre Province. Cadres and soldiers of the Region also donated many gifts for people in Binh Dai District, Ben Tre Province on Tet occasion and 20 500-litre water containers for needy and beneficiary households in the targeted localities.

Facing the complications of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Region has actively informed the situation of the pandemic and talked people into adhering the regulations of the State, localities and measures for prevention and control, especially health declaration, early detection of the suspected cases and social distancing.  At the same time, it has coordinated with mass unions of the localities to conduct practical activities, such as: delivering thousands of leaflets about ways to prevent and control the pandemic; providing free face masks and antiseptic and instructing people to wear face masks and clean their hands appropriately, etc., contributing to enhance the awareness and creating a consensus and determination to prevent and control the pandemic for local people.

With high political awareness and responsibility and the spirit of staying side by side with Southwestern people in overcoming the thirst, the Naval Region 2 has initially successfully accomplished the task of helping the people of Ben Tre and Tien Giang provinces surviving the thirst which was highly appreciated by local authorities and people and further beatifying the image of “Uncle Ho’s soldier – Naval soldier”. From the above results, the Region will make further all-round preparations to continue to surpass all difficulties to supply freshwater for salty areas of other provinces when needed.  With the participation of the entire political system and the society, Southwestern people, with their tradition of solidarity and resilience, will certainly overcome the drought and saline intrusion challenges.

Senior Colonel DANG MANH HUNG, Deputy Political Commissar of the Region

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