A Look at Community Based Adaptation in Vietnam

21 Jul

How are Women Adapting to Climate Change in Giao Luc, Vietnam?

Working with our partner organization, CGFED:http://www.cgfed.org.vn, and PlanetForward.org, PISA visited Giao Luc Commune in Nam Dinh Province to find out first hand how communities are adapting to climate change: http://www.asiapacificadapt.net. We learned that the women of Giao Lac have three main adaption strategies:

  • Migration to the city to find employment;
  • Seeking alternative livelihoods such as embroidery and sewing to supplement their incomes;
  • Using traditional desalination methods to address saltwater incursion into the paddy fields.

To try and get a deeper understanding of how women are adapting, PISA interviewed three generations of women in two families as well as an eco-tourism entrepreneur, and researchers from CGFED, who are tracking these changes in the community.  Stay tuned to see PISA’s video in the fall.

What emerged is that today the women of Giao Luc are using migration as a primary adaptation strategy.  Traditionally, only men left the commune for work in the city.  Young women reported that they observed changes in the weather such as hotter summers, colder winters, and more storms and flooding.  These shifts have reduced the reliability of the rice harvest and introduced new challenges from pests and salt-water incursion.  While women reported that the last harvest was bountiful, all noted that over the last 7-10 years, the harvest has been unreliable and that instead of two annual crops only one could be harvested.  Climate change is contributing to a feeling of uncertainty about the future and reduced security.

When women of working age leave the community for employment in Hanoi, they leave behind the elderly, infirm, and children as well as mothers with infants.  In sum, they leave behind the most vulnerable members of the community and arguably those least prepared to deal with natural disasters and food insecurity.  When climate scientists say that vulnerable communities www. adb.org/Documents/Books/Economics-climate-change-SEA/defaultwill suffer the consequences of climate change disproportionately this is exactly what they mean.

Adaptation strategies are happening at the household level.  PISA learned, for example, that a traditional, low-cost method of desalinating the soil is to use limestone.  The stone is heated and made into a paste that is transferred to the paddy field to leach out salt and prepare the field for rice planting.  When questioned about where this idea came from, villagers told PISA that this method had been used by their grandparents and was being reintroduced by women in the community who grew up seeing this low-tech, low-cost strategy in action.  Household adaption strategies are clearly playing an important role in attempts to build community resilience.  As in this case, PisaSpeak will explore how a varied mosaic of community-based adaption strategies can inform a more effective national adaptation strategy.

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