Home to more than 21 million people and hosting a rich diversity of plants and animals, the Mekong Delta is Viet Nam primary rice producer and is critical to both the country's economy and ecosystem.
However, in recent years, the resilience of the Delta has been heavily impacted by human activities, including upstream hydropower dams and sand mining in its main and distributary channels. Between 2018 and 2020, sand mining within the Mekong Delta's channels was reported at 17.77 Mt per year - far more than the 6.18 Mt of sand flowing into the Delta each year. As a result of this unsustainable activity, the Mekong's riverbanks and coastal zones are eroding, and half a million people are at risk of losing their homes. There has also been a reduction in diversity and abundance of fish in mined areas, as well as changes to riverside vegetation. Climate change adds to the effects of unsustainable sand mining on the Delta with increased droughts, heavier rains, and unprecedented sea-level rise.
Without concerted action, these pressures could undermine the resilience of the Mekong Delta, threatening its agriculture, economy, and biodiversity.
To strengthen the Mekong Delta's resilience against the effects of unsustainable sand mining and climate change, WWF is implementing the project "Drifting Sands: Mitigating the impacts of climate change in the Mekong Delta through public and private sector engagement in the sand industry". It is funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) – BMU and managed by WWF-Germany. Viet Nam's Ministries, MARD, MONRE and MPI, overseeing disaster risk management, sand mining and investments, are our key partners amongst others.
Started in 2019 and set to end in 2023, the project's goal is to contribute to maintain key ecological functions and reduce socio-economic vulnerability to climate change in the Mekong Delta.
To achieve its goals, the project will, in close consultation with key stakeholders, establish a delta-wide sand budget to create a better understanding of the scope and impact of unsustainable extraction rates.
The project also intends to work with key actors in the public and private sectors to develop and propose improved policies and practices (such as the River Geomorphological Stability Plan) in relation to sustainable sand and gravel mining, and it will use public outreach to raise awareness of the need for action to counter the impacts of unsustainable sediment exploitation in the Delta.
Furthermore, the project will promote participation and dialogues among key actors in the Vietnamese construction sector, whom it will provide with information on the risks associated with sand mining and opportunities for sustainable alternative sourcing to river sand and gravel.
Project Key Partners
What We Have Done?
- A Desk Review was conducted to identify key sites in the Mekong Delta for sand flow monitoring based on secondary data review
- An Analysis of and lessons learned on SAND AND GRAVEL EXTRACTION POLICIES, REGULATIONS AND PRACTICES has been also produced to identify best practices in the international regulatory framework that can provide replicable solutions for sustainable river sand management in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta context
What Is Coming Next?
Development of a study on the Sand Value Chain in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City and Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai province
Development of a study on alternative sources to river sand in the construction sector
Development of the plan to preserve the River Geomorphological Stability
Development of a rapid delta-wide Sand Budget for the Vietnamese Mekong Delta
Engagement with key stakeholders on the importance of sand, sustainable sand mining practices and alternative materials
Ms. Nguyen Hong Tram Anh - Project Communications Officer