Under siege by climate, man-made problems, a sinking Ho Chi Minh City fights to survive
The city is facing extreme weather more frequently, its flood mitigation responses have not kept pace, and a proposed sea dyke has sparked debate. The programme Insight finds out why the solutions will not be easy.
HO CHI MINH CITY: Nguyen Van Cu is a construction engineer whose speciality is raising homes. That means he has been busy of late.
He recently put the finishing touches to a house he had lifted by more than two metres. A few years ago, he raised a 6,000-tonne church.
“When the pastor said the church would be raised by two metres, nobody in the parish believed him. They just didn’t think it would’ve been possible,” Cu recalls.
“The pastor said to me … ‘I had faith in you, but hearing what others in the parish said (worried) me.’”
Today, many people in Ho Chi Minh City want their houses raised — because not only does it flood every year during the May to November rainy season, but also the flooding is getting worse.
The city of nearly nine million residents is facing extreme weather conditions more frequently, but the infrastructure to mitigate flooding has not kept pace.
While the authorities have raised the roads, one consequence is everyone is racing to raise their property higher than the road level.
For fruit seller Tuan Hoang, who has a fruit juice stall along the roadside, frequent flooding has made it difficult to run his business.
“The water would rise here. On the road, the water would be higher than half the tyre … Where the street is lower, the water would (cover) a whole tyre,” he says.
“It’s hard for people to stop by and buy stuff.”
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