BANGKOK – An El Niño-induced drought in Vietnam has left 1 million people in urgent need of food assistance and 2 million people lacking access to drinking water, Europe's humanitarian aid agency said.
The country's worst drought in 90 years coupled with seawater intrusion into the Mekong River delta have destroyed fruit, rice and sugar crops in the world's third-largest rice exporter after India and Thailand.
"The disruption in precipitation patterns has affected the livelihoods, food security and access to safe water of the people of Vietnam," Christos Stylianides, EU commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, said in a statement.
The EU's humanitarian arm ECHO said it would provide 2 million euros ($2.3 million) in funding for emergency relief.
"This EU contribution will help provide life-saving assistance to affected families at this critical time, ensuring that their basic needs are met," Stylianides said.
Saltwater has encroached up the Mekong Delta up to 25 km (15 miles) further than average years, the ECHO statement said.
"Although the government had taken preparedness measures and launched some initiatives in anticipation, the scale of the current disaster has become much worse than initially foreseen, surpassing the local capacity to respond," the statement said.
Weather forecasters have warned of the possibility of a La Niña weather event, the counterpart of El Niño, which could bring intense rains to Vietnam in the second half of 2016.