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Über dieses Buch

This book is intended to fill a gap in climate-change literature by providing a comprehensive regional study and identifying the overall adaptation challenges in a real-life context. The way in which possible climate impacts interact with a range of other challenges in agriculture, forestry, disaster planning, health care, general economic development, and common livelihoods are presented, and it is argued that greater realism and broader vision are needed in order to address the climate challenge. For instance, unsuitable land- use changes in both coastal and highland regions may increase the vulnerability of rural people, many of whom are already living on the fringes. The author(s) also state(s) that, depending on context, it may be pertinent to address short-term and unsustainable resource use, irregularities in local land management, ineffective governance and social inequality, which are all likely to aggravate the impact of external climate and weather. Not least, it is imperative to integrate general environmental management with any climate-change adaptation effort.



Climate Change, Adaptation and the Environment in Central Vietnam

This introduction locates Central Vietnam in the international debate on climate change in developing countries, particularly in terms of socio-economic impacts. Central Vietnam is considered the most vulnerable region of the country in terms of exposure to the effects of climate change. The prospects of a rise in sea level, threats to agricultural production in coastal zones, and risks of increasing weather variability imply higher frequencies of storms, heavy rains and droughts. In order to determine how people, communities and public authorities adapt to new circumstances however, these overall challenges must be placed in a real-life context. There is a gap in the international climate change debate between, on the one hand, a reliance on technical approaches and overall mechanical modeling to countries and regions, and on the other, the perspectives that derive from local environmental data collection and socio-economic analysis. Complexities increase dramatically when working at the lower and intermediate levels: the observed processes of change are not only ascribable to climate change, but to globalization, policy changes, marketization, general economic development, and large-scale human interventions in the environment. There is an urgent need for integrated approaches, such as the building of environmental management into climate change responses, addressing the total impact of livelihood stresses in social vulnerability perspectives, and ensuring that overall adaptation policies adequately address social justice.
Ole Bruun, Thorkil Casse

Paradoxes in Adaptation: Economic Growth and Socio-Economic Differentiation. A Case Study of Mid-Central Vietnam

This chapter will introduce the geographical conditions and economic characteristics of Central Vietnam. It proceeds to analyse the general economic development in the region, particularly since the introduction of economic reforms in the early 1990s. Both foreign investment and exports have risen dramatically, turning Vietnam into a major exporter of a range of agricultural and industrial products. Further, it shows how some of the paradoxes of development and globalization, such as high growth and simultaneous socio-economic differentiation, are also played out in the provinces of Central Vietnam. In a disaster prone region, the poor households are at risk of losing out when greater weather variability threatens agricultural and forestry production and increases overall economic losses. The rapid expansion of the hydropower generating capacity has stimulated economic development and thereby potentially enhanced social resilience, but at the same time has increased the ecological vulnerability and set in motion a range of processes not under control.
Mogens Buch-Hansen, Nguyen Ngoc Khanh, Nguyen Hong Anh

Is Climate Change a Reality for Agriculture in Quang Nam Province?

The chapter describes changes in agricultural systems in Quang Nam Province since 1990 in an effort to explore if such changes are reflecting strategies of adaptation to climate change. A two-pronged analytical strategy is followed. This explores (a) patterns of correlation between agricultural production, eco-agricultural landscapes, and climate variations, and (b) records stakeholder perceptions of the causal relations between changes in agricultural practices and climate change. It concludes by discussing the concordance and differences found between the two analyses. An overview of agricultural changes was provided through available statistics and interviews and important climate impacts and adaptations were identified and assessed. An energy flow method was used to describe the agricultural situation. From interviews it was found that many Vietnamese authorities and farmers are convinced that climate change is having an impact on farming, forestry and aquaculture today, and consequently, different kinds of adaptations are being introduced. The study shows that farmers in the agricultural field during the last decade have increased productivity and demonstrated a strong ability to adapt farming systems to the impacts experienced from extreme weather events. Forestry adaptation to extreme weather impacts took a long time while aqua culture adaptation occurred rapidly. With regards to correlations of documented patterns of climate variations and changes of agricultural production systems, however, the findings of the study are inconclusive. Long term planning should include concerns of adaptation to climate change and the use of economic incentives.
Ngoc Quang Vu, Henning Schroll, Jan Andersen, Søren Lund

The Push for Plantations: Drivers, Rationales and Social Vulnerability in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam

This chapter compares the impact of land use changes in two municipalities. We look at the long-term changes regarding the expansion of acacia production and the effects of tropical storms. Due to households experiencing significant economic gains after only a few years, both primary forest and agricultural land are being replaced with acacia tree plantations. The downside to this is an increasing social inequality, which follows in the wake of both government decree support given to monoculture promotion, and the influences of market forces. We observe signs of social differentiation, where poor households end up serving as casual labour for the richer families on their acacia plantations. In addition, the poor can be rendered even more vulnerable after becoming labourers for the richer families, because they may no longer have an alternative source of income, yet they still face the risk of an increasing frequency of typhoon exposure.
Andreas Waaben Thulstrup, Thorkil Casse, Thomas Theis Nielsen

Climate Change’s Impact on Natural Hazards in Quang Nam Province, Mid-Central Vietnam

This chapter discusses the natural hazards of flooding and drought and provides a short reference to landslides. Flooding might present a greater threat to the livelihoods of local people than drought. As yet we cannot fully understand the interplay between these natural hazards and other environmental factors, and it is difficult to establish a positive relationship between climate change and hazards. However, if the relationships are assumed to exist, projections are possible to draw up for future changes in flooding and drought. The chapter describes projections based on expected changes in rainfall, which are in accordance with the climate change scenarios developed for Quang Nam and Mid-central Vietnam by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Under a climate scenario in which there is an increase of 2 °C in temperatures by the end of the century, the flooded area in the province might increase by 20 %. Though mitigation plans are drawn up, no long-term strategy is yet in place to deal with an increase in the flooded area of this magnitude.
An Duc Le, Lan Thi Thu Vu

Impediments to Climate-Induced Disaster Management: Evidence from Quang Nam Province, Central Vietnam

This chapter aims to identify deeper rooted socio-political impediments for effective natural disaster responses in Vietnam by drawing on first-hand evidence from the province of Quang Nam. Vietnam suffers from relatively high incidents of natural disasters due to the country’s high susceptibility to natural hazards, and Quang Nam is found to be particularly vulnerable. There are, however, several socio-political obstacles to effective disaster management in the province. While decentralization processes have accelerated in Vietnam during the last decades, the limited devolution of power to the local political entities make them first and foremost instruments for policy implementation. The relationship between communes and local government institutions, therefore, is not symbiotic but rather driven by the central government. Concretely, disaster management meetings in Quang Nam were used to disseminate instructions and information from above. Vulnerable households, with an underdeveloped social asset-base, did not perceive disaster protection as a right, and they did not consider disaster protection as a legitimate demand on the state. The chapter argues that effective disaster management needs to extend beyond the policy-level to consider more fundamental shifts in the political structures and institutions.
Olivier Rubin

Livelihood Strategies Under the Constraints of Climate Change Vulnerability in Quang Nam

This chapter examines how vulnerability can be measured in quantitative terms. By using the Ketsana typhoon’s devastating effects on livelihoods as an example, the chapter shows that households whose livelihoods are based on economic activities like acacia production and shrimp farming suffered the most. A survey of 166 households showed that 88 % had experienced substantial losses. In this case study, the degree of severity of the losses is not an useful indicator of vulnerability in Quang Nam. The people who were most aware about climate changes were also the ones most satisfied with their district’s disaster plans, and these were better covered by disaster relief schemes. At the other end of the scale, we found a district where only half of the households were satisfied with their district’s disaster plans, and half of the total claimed they did not know anything and had not received any disaster relief. In our study area, knowledge of climate change, satisfaction with local disaster planning and receipt of disaster relief seem to go hand in hand.
Thorkil Casse

Rural Households: Socio-Economic Characteristics, Community Organizing and Adaptation Abilities

Based on a comprehensive survey and subsequent fieldwork, this chapter introduces the socio-economic characteristics and common livelihood strategies of rural households in Quang Nam, Central Vietnam. It demonstrates the basic premise of self-reliance in rural society and the decreasing economic dependency on state institutions under the Vietnamese transition to a market society. It discusses present poverty definitions and measures by comparing survey data with the formal economic categorization of rural households. Both the overall characteristics of rural society and qualitative data indicate that the reforms have set in motion a process by which a mix of new opportunities and increasing pressures creates new winners and losers. Second, the chapter draws attention to the nature of interactions between households, local communities and the Vietnamese state. This shows both potentials and limitations of informal organization and community adaptive capacities, and finally, it discusses the issues of vulnerability and adaptation to climatic and environmental change from a household perspective.
Ole Bruun

Natural Resource Management Impact on Vulnerability in Relation to Climate Change: A Case in a Micro-Scale Vietnamese Context

This chapter analyses the relationship between natural resource management practices and vulnerability in the process of adapting to climate change in Tam Thanh, a rural commune in mid-Central Vietnam. The concept of vulnerability is examined and divided into physical and social vulnerability. Physical vulnerability responds to external stress from natural hazards exacerbated by climate change. Social vulnerability is the ability of a given group or individual to cope with and adapt to any external stress. Based on a household survey, the dynamics of social vulnerability are analysed through the Environmental Entitlements Framework and the Sustainable Livelihood Approach. We find that due to spatial and socio-economic conditions, there are great variations in access to natural resources and endowments which exist between households in the commune and which result in unequal levels of social vulnerability. These differences are reinforced by the impacts of climate change, which are characterised by increased intensity and frequency of typhoons and heavy rainfalls as well as prolonged periods of water scarcity. Natural resource management practices also influence the level of social vulnerability. Poorer households dependent on rice production are especially vulnerable to water scarcity, whereas wealthier households endowed with large plantations of production forest are affected by typhoons. A diversification of income sources reduces the level of social vulnerability. However, alternative income sources beyond climate sensitive natural resources are limited in the commune. The study concludes that a reduction of social vulnerability is essential for a successful adaptation to climate change.
Tobias von Platen-Hallermund, Anton Mikkel Thorsen

Climate, Environment, and the Role of Media

This chapter analyses media coverage and public debate on climate and environmental change in Central Vietnam. As both the dissemination of public information and awareness-raising are important elements in climate change adaptation, both conventional media and the new digital media are in focus. Equally relevant, however, are public debates on climate and environmental issues and the extent to which alternative visions and civil society voices have access to old and new media. Since Vietnam is a one-party state, in which the media in principle are controlled by public authorities and are intended to support state policy, certain media have limited credibility among the public. Nevertheless, investigative journalism is on the rise and the public is increasingly seen to use the media as a route to express discontent with land grabs, unequal development, pollution, illegal mining, environmental problems and so forth. Slowly, a trend towards more open media spaces, particularly among the online media, enables both civil society groups to represent disadvantaged people and concerned scientists to express alternative policy options.
Catherine McKinley

Health Impacts of Climate and Environmental Change: Awareness and Challenges to Adaptation

Taking a point of departure in current knowledge about the existing health situation in Vietnam and insights into interrelationships between social, environmental and institutional risk factors and health, this chapter reports on small-scale health surveys conducted in purposely selected communities of the Thang Binh district of Quang Nam province. The surveys aimed at exploring awareness of and coping to environmental and climate change induced health problems. In the surveys most respondents associated climate change with abnormal weather conditions and typically mentioned seawater level rise, storms, floods and increase in temperature. Generally, respondents had observed considerable changes in health patterns in recent years however, without linking these clearly to climate change or climate factors but rather to a change in environmental determinants of health such as food, water and air quality. The observations are consistent with a wider socio-economic household survey, reporting a worsening of the health condition by a majority of households. A range of coping mechanisms were highlighted by community members and local authorities as ways and means of protecting each other and individual households and their members in times of increased extreme weather events and general environmental change. Future new actions should ideally be informed by parallel research initiatives and the present small-scale survey may stimulate more in-depth and broader studies that may help to identify proper, sustainable solutions for future adaptation and coping to climate and environmental change.
Peter Furu, Duong Khanh Van

Interacting Cultural and Environmental Change: The Co (Cua) Minority of Central Vietnam

This chapter shows how dramatic changes in the highland forest environment have impacted on a mountain people whose existence since prehistoric times has been bound to the forest. It combines scarce textual sources on their culture and history with recent fieldwork in their lands. This is in order to explore the process by which climate and particularly environmental change have contributed to social stratification and generated new vulnerabilities. An ingrained antagonism between Co people and shifting lowland state formations, which have repeatedly submitted them to their rule, forms part of the region’s history. Yet the post-war changes in the forest environment, combined with government integration efforts, have been the most serious challenge to their traditional knowledge and way of life and have ultimately threatened their cultural survival. At the same time, the retreat of the natural forest has reshuffled resource entitlements in the highlands and exposed the group to renewed competition for land and resources.
Nhinh Do Thi, Ole Bruun

Viet Nam’s Food Security: A Castle of Cards in the Winds of Climate Change

Since the 1980s, Viet Nam has achieved rapid economic growth and greatly increased food production and security. These results are based, however, on a model of industrial agriculture that has inherent social and environmental limitations and increasingly faces the structural constraints of climate change. This article questions industrial agriculture in general, and through the case of Viet Nam, its ability to sustain outputs and food security through the emerging crisis. It argues that while agro-industrial technologies and commodification are making the country particularly vulnerable to the imprecise and shifting context of a multifaceted crisis, the dominant response of the green economy, in Viet Nam as elsewhere, rests on unsubstantiated technological and institutional assumptions. Unchanged, such strategy will most likely lead to the collapse of Viet Namese agricultural production and a surge of food insecurity. In such a strategic vacuum, the article explores how agro-ecology offers a viable alternative, in parallel with the organization of production, distribution, and consumption through principles of food sovereignty.
François Fortier
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