Urban growth, temperature rise and melting glaciers threaten river deltas around the world. Southeast Asia – from India to China – in particular will be severely affected. Large numbers of people live in poverty, countries are densely-populated and coastlines are long. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the chance that people in this region will be affected by water-related disasters is about 25 times greater than in Europe. How are people tackling water challenges in Asia?
When I visited Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, I found a village erected amongst the rice fields; it was built by the government after the severe flood of 2000. The villagers received me with a warm welcome. I asked them if they were happy with their safe place to live. “We no longer have to be afraid that our children will drown,” one of the farmers told me over a cup of tea. “However, our commute time has increased.” He explained that the housing project is three kilometres away from the place most inhabitants originally came from. He told me his old boss stopped calling him because there were workers that lived closer to work. “We used to have work, but unsafe living conditions. Now it is the opposite.”