05/13/2017 – The Mekong Delta

Today, I visited the Mekong River Delta and some of the islands therein. The delta is a region of tremendous importance to the economy of Vietnam, and the livelihoods of its inhabitants depend on its health. In recent years, the countries upstream of Vietnam that also have access to the river have been damming the river for hydroelectric power, which has been threatening the productivity of food in the delta region. There was no true indication of this on my visit today, and my guide did not focus on the changing economic climate of the region much (outside of the sharp decrease in the price of pigs). The locals continued to go about their work in a seemingly normal fashion. The Vietnamese government itself is not doing much to combat the environmental harm, but other governments, such as the U.S., have been providing support to decrease the impact on the locals of the delta region.

The islands I visited today were strongly catered to tourists. There were an abundance of souvenir shops and photo opportunities, as well as a large amount of non-Vietnamese people going about the island. Much of the food I sampled was local and fresh, such as honey tea made from the honey of bees, and fruit that was harvested very recently. These foods were available for purchase, and there were many other local, “authentic” items being sold, including coconut candy.

Most of the industries in the delta region, such as fishing and farming, rely on the health of the river to be successful. As the quality of the water diminishes due to climate change and damming, the productivity of these industries also diminishes. The economy of the Mekong Delta is a crucial part of the economy of Vietnam, but it might become less apparent in the future due to the harm being done to the environment.

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