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U.S. pledges aid to help Vietnam counter climate change

Dec. 15, 2013 at 11:14 AM

CU MAU, Vietnam, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The United States is chipping in $17 million to help Vietnam brace for the impact of climate change, Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday.

The funding through the USAID program will be used by communities in the low-lying areas of Vietnam to reverse environmental degradation and prepare for an anticipated rise in the water level.

"Vietnam is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world when it comes to climate change," Kerry said in the Mekong Delta village of Ca Mau. "We will see very serious impacts if we don't change course today."

Kerry, who served in the delta during the Vietnam War, said the area was a vital food-producing area and faced a dire future of rising water and potentially longer monsoon rain seasons. At the same time, soil erosion and the construction of dams in countries upstream from Vietnam also threatened to throw off the ecological balance of the delta, he said.

"That river is a global asset, a treasure that belongs to the region," Kerry said. "It is vital that we avoid dramatic changes in the water flow and sediment levels. Already, we are seeing that fisheries are experiencing threats to the fish stocks as a consequence of the changes taking place."

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