Agricultural production in the coastal wetlands of Asia is often hindered by salinity intrusion caused by tidal fluctuation. This paper reports changes in environmental and socio-economic conditions that followed the phased construction and operation of sluices for controlling seawater intrusion from 1994 –2000 in a coastal area of the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam. Canal water salinity decreased rapidly upstream of sluices, allowing rice cropping intensification and increased rice production in the eastern part of the study area. However, the livelihoods of farmers in the western part were adversely affected due to cessation of supply of brackish water that was needed for brackish-water shrimp farming, while the acid sulphate soils present there posed problems for rice cultivation. The poor farmers and landless people suffered more because the fishery resource that they depended on declined sharply due to reduced salinity and increased acidity in the canal water. The findings confirmed that the environment and resource use in the coastal lands are very sensitive to external intervention. A clear understanding of the socio-economic and environmental impacts of salinity control measures in coastal areas can help planning to enhance farmers' incomes while minimizing negative environmental impacts. Land-use policy formulation, planning and management should adopt a more holistic approach, taking into account the interests of all resource users, especially the poor, instead of focusing on any particular sector.
Tuong, T.P.; Kam, S.P.; Hoanh, C.T.; Dung, L.C.; Khiem, N.T.; Barr, J.; Ben, D.C. Impact of seawater intrusion control on the environment, land use and household incomes in a coastal area. Paddy and Water Environment (2003) 1 (2) 65-73. [DOI: 10.1007/s10333-003-0015-2]