Some environmental problems in Viet Nam today
Thai Cong Tung
Abstracts Demographic growth, urbanization, industrialization, infrastructure development...are contributing to increase stress on the natural resource base in Viet Nam today. The paper highlighted those stresses : the rural exodus to the cities due to scarce land resources in the countryside, the pollution problems in the urban environment, the migration of people to forested areas with direct impacts including the deforestation, the watershed degradation and the loss of biodiversity. Striking a balance between population growth and conserving the natural resources are necessary for a sustainable development which is to move away from resource exploitation and more toward resource management in controlling the overfishing, overgrazing, overcutting, overpumping, overhunting issues prevailing inViet Nam today.
1 Introduction With a population of 80 million inhabitants and an acreage of 331 114 sq km, overall population density in Viet Nam is 231 persons/ square km which is very high for an agricultural country. Viet Nam is now the third most densely populated Southeast Asia country (behind Singapore and Philippines) and the twelfth most populous country in the world. With 77% living in rural areas, agriculture and forestry occupy a large land base. This dependency and high population pressure on scarce arable land are exerting tremendous pressure on the natural environment. The rural exodus to the big cities to find employment as well as the industrialization are creating huge environmental problems: water, air, noise pollution. In the mountains, deforestation leads to the watershed degradation, reducing animal and botanical biodiversity, leading to soil erosion.
This diagram summarizes those issues:
Timber demand Lack of available lands Deforestation Short fallow Loss of soil fertility Marginal land cultivation Rural exodus Urban Congestion Under employment
Loss of biodiversity
2 Manpower mobility and influence on the environment In Viet Nam, two movements of the population are observed: a rural exodus to big cities where living conditions and employment opportunities are better than in the rural areas and a spontaneous in-migration from poor and crowded areas to the Central Highlands or to the Southeastern region where land is still available. 21 Migration from rural areas to the big cities: urbanization and industrialization From the beginning of the 20th century up to now, the population of Viet Nam has increased by 5 times. With population pressure, agricultural land per capita is diminishing year by year; underemployment in rural areas is very serious, thus creating a big rural exodus to the cities where many areas are becoming crowded and unhygienic. For example, Hanoi’s average population density is 26 000 people per sq.km and up to 40 000 people per sq.km (400 persons/ha) in the Central Old Quarter. It is estimated nearly 24% of the population are now in the big cities (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh city or Saigon) and this urban population is likely to explose to 33 percent of the national population in 2010 and 45 percent in 2020. This increases the pressure over resources and is creating a number of environmental stresses in the cities, such as problems of water supply, water drainage, water pollution, air pollution, traffic congestion, just to mention a few. 211Water supply .The quality of urban water supply is poor, due to the discharge of untreated or partially treated wastes as well as domestic liquid wastes into rivers. Only 100 urban centers have piped water systems that deliver water to 47% of the urban population. In Hanoi, the piped water system is not only overloaded but also old, since it was constructed more than one hundred years ago under the French administration period . The consequences are 30% of total 2
water are lost, thus reflecting the urgent...
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