Vietnamese farmers burdened with debts by climate change
In the scorching sun, Maria Nguyen Thi Binh in soiled ragged clothes and a leaf hat on her head works 10 hours a day at a construction site.
She has weathered skin and is drenched with sweat as she carries cement and bricks and mixes concrete.
“I am only paid 200,000 dong [US$8.70] a day but anyway it is the only source of income for my family of four in these hard times,” she said, adding that she has to work for seven days a week to support her family.
The mother of two from Dai Loc district of Quang Nam province in central Vietnam said her family will face starvation and she could not afford college fees of her children after their peanut field with an area of ,500 square meters was damaged by unseasonal floods on March 30-April 3.
March is in the dry season and local people prepare to harvest crops but this year it poured with rain for days and flooded their fields.
“The unseasonal weather left us nothing but we incur debts for fertilizers, herbicides and plowing costing 10 million dong,” the 45-year-old farmer said, adding that other people also had their crops damaged and have had to leave home to look for manual work in other places.
Paul Le Xuan Hien from Hoa Vang district of the neighboring city of Da Nang said the unexpected floods washed away all fish, crab and shrimp from his 3,000-square-meter farm.
“I borrowed 40 million dong from a bank to raise fish in February and now it is dissipated. I have no clue about how to repay the debt,” Hien said.
The fish farmer who has deeply tanned hands and face said he scrapes a living by selling bread in the city. “I daily ride a motorbike some 100 kilometers in hot weather and I feel giddy while traveling in the heat of the midday sun.”
The 40-year-old father of two said the weather has been changing suddenly and causing serious damage to crops and human health. After unseasonal floods in early April, central provinces went through a spell of hot weather, around 40 degrees Celsius.
“I have been absolutely worn out after one month working in such weather, but I have no choice but try my best to support my family,” the breadwinner in a four-member family said, adding that he has to work until midnight as his ailing wife has no job.
He said 50 other fish farmers had their farms destroyed by floods and could not afford to repay their debts. They dare not farm fish again for fear of the atrocious weather.
The National Steering Board for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control reported unseasonal torrential rains hit nine central provinces, claiming three lives, injuring four and destroying tens of thousands of hectares of crops and farms.
Hoang Phuc Long, 17, who works at a construction site in Da Nang to support his family of four, said many children leave school and work at building sites, coffee houses and markets to help their families after the natural disaster and the pandemic.
Long, who dropped out of school last year when he was in 10th grade, said he has become the breadwinner in his family and earns 150,000 dong per day. His family had rice and pigs washed away during the floods.
Simon Truong Phuoc Liem, deputy of Ai Nghia Parish Council in Quang Nam province, said to protect the environment, local Catholics are taught how to make natural fertilizer from garbage, leaves and straw. They are also given money to grow rice, corns, green beans, sesame and soybean in May.
Saint Paul de Chartres Sister Rose Le Thi Thanh, from the Communication Committee on Climate Change in Hoa Vang Deanery of Da Nang Diocese, said rescue teams founded in 2020 in many parishes have moved climate change victims and their belongings to churches and other safe places.
Sister Thanh said the teams with 15-30 volunteers each are educated in the causes and effects of climate change, and trained in first aid, how to look after wounded people, ways of preparing food and medicine for victims.
She said at the weekend they and local people collect garbage along the beach and plant trees to reduce soil erosion and lessen the effects of climate change.
Local Catholics are encouraged to protect the environment by dropping litter in trash cans and cleaning their parishes.
The nun said volunteers also helped transport Covid-19 victims to quarantine centers and provided food for patients at field hospitals during the pandemic last year.
Source from: Da Nang (May 6, 2022). Vietnamese farmers burdened with debts by climate change. UCA News. https://www.ucanews.com/news/vietnamese-farmers-burdened-with-debts-by-climate-change/97172