Why is Ho Chi Minh City Sinking?

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Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon is sinking at a rate of 1 to 2cm every year, even sea levels are rising. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), parts of Vietnam’s capital could be underwater by 2050.

Rapid expansion has left the city vulnerable to climate change, with an increase in flood levels over the years. Overdevelopment and the sheer weight of infrastructure in some districts has caused the soft soil of the city, which sits on the Mekong delta, to subside.

Secondly, sand from the Mekong river is being extracted for building purposes - which means less sediment building on the delta. Finally, land subsidence is also happening because of the over-extraction of groundwater by businesses and residents who use bore wells, because piped water is in short supply.

The Vietnamese authorities have resorted to raising the level of the roads and are also building a 23km seawall or dyke, covering the coastal regions of Vung Tau and Go Con. But this could simply move the problem elsewhere, and cause an ecological disaster, aside from being prohibitively expensive - at US$ billion.

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