Vietnamese people join hands to save Mekong River

Individuals, organizations and businesses are spending money, effort and time to clean up the Mekong River.

Photographer Nguyen Viet Hung has just returned from a trip along 7,000 kilometers of coastline to take pictures of garbage. After nearly 2 months of traveling alone through 28 provinces from North to South, what he saw was garbage everywhere.

Vietnamese people join hands to save Mekong River

He saw the beaches, nearly one kilometer long, with full of garbage and no sand. In many areas, people throw garbage into the river and the sea.

According to UNEP (United Nations Environment Program), Vietnam ranks fourth in the world in volume of garbage discharged, with the volume of plastic waste into the sea hitting 0.28-0.73 million tons per annum, or 6 percent of the world’s total plastic waste.

Christian Schmidt from Helmholtz Environment Research Center found that Mekong is one of the 10 most polluting rivers in the world which make up 88-95 percent of total waste into the sea.

Mekong is no longer mysterious and attractive with high tropical nature system and high biodiversity level. It has been fully exploited with tens of hydropower dams arising.

Mekong is no longer mysterious and attractive with high tropical nature system and high biodiversity level. It has been fully exploited with tens of hydropower dams arising.

The hydropower dams on Mekong have seriously threatened ecological health, economies and food security in the region. ICEM estimated that if 11 dams are built as planned, the fish resources by 2030 will reduce by 26-42 percent compared with 2000.

WWF has called on the six countries on Mekong to have other approaches to the regional economic development.

Caithlin Wiesen from UNDP Vietnam called on people to say ‘no’ to disposable plastic products, use environmentally friendly products, and collect and treat plastic waste.

 

However, as warned by Le Thi My Hanh from the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Vietnam, collecting plastic waste won’t be an easy work. First, there is too much waste on Mekong. Second, Vietnam lacks infrastructure for the plastic waste management, classification and treatment.

Many individuals and organizations are still trying to make their contribution to clean Mekong.

Hanwha Group has joined forces with the General Directorate of Environment and GGGI launching a campaign. The South Korean group donated two garbage picking boats to Vinh Long province.

The boats run with solar energy, do not produce polluting emissions or create noise that threatens animals. Sun-Mok Choi from Hanwha said if the program succeeds, the group will also carry it out in other provinces.

Meanwhile, The Ocean Cleanup (TOC) from the Netherlands has discussed with Can Tho authorities on a plan to set up floating automatic waste collection systems on rivers.

This is an automatic river garbage collection boat developed by the TOC. The device uses solar energy, connected to phones to know the amount of garbage collected.

Mai Chi 

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