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Downpours earlier this month eased scorching heat in Hanoi, HCMC and Bien Hoa but caused severe floods. Many parts of Hanoi were submerged under water after heavy rain last week, disrupting people’s work and children’s schooling. HCMC and Bien Hoa are in the same boat because many of their streets were inundated after rain at the start of the rainy season.

But the worst has yet to come as more heavy rains and storms are forecast to strike Vietnam’s coast this year as the La Nina weather phenomenon often follows El Nino which has already brought drought and salination to different parts of the country, especially the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta.

Experts say poor urban planning is to blame for such flooding. Authorities have approved too many residential areas and apartment buildings while the existing drainage systems have not been developed accordingly. Rapid urbanization has led to encroachments on canals and rivers, which have in turn clogged water drainage.

HCMC has arranged only VND22.95 trillion for flood control projects and programs in the 2016-2020 period while the total funding requirement is VND97.3 trillion (US$4.34 billion).

Shortly after rain in mid-May, traffic on many streets in Bien Hoa of Dong Nai Province ground to a halt. Bien Hoa needs huge funding to carry out a major drainage and wastewater treatment project, with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) expected to lend VND8.4 trillion.

In the short term, dwellers in HCMC and Bien Hoa will have to live with rain-triggered floods. Up in the north, Hanoi may fail to complete the second phase of a drainage project capitalized at VND8 trillion this June since some components remain half-done due to slow site clearance.