Building Capacity for
Climate Change Adaptation

As one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries, Vietnam is already experiencing the severe impacts of anthropogenic climate change, including extreme weather events such as droughts, typhoons and floods; sea and saltwater table rises; as well as more general disruption to rainfall and weather patterns. 

Although Vietnam has achieved rapid progress in the areas of economic growth and poverty reduction over the past two decades, such gains have been stymied in recent years due to climate change- and will be dramatically reversed if worst-case climate change scenarios are permitted to eventuate. 

It is estimated that if climate change is not effectively mitigated, by the end of the century Vietnam will lose at least 12.2% of its land, which currently houses 23% of the country’s population, and an even greater percentage of its fertile soil- including half of its low-lying delta regions, which are amongst the world’s most important “rice bowls”- to flooding and soil salinization.

For AFAP, climate change is a multiplier of disaster risk and vulnerability, food insecurity, social injustice, and poverty. The impact of climate change upon the poor will be particularly extreme, and many of these impacts are already being felt by disadvantaged people across the developing world, even as the global effort to mitigate climate begins to take shape. 

The poor and marginalized are often highly or solely dependent on climate-sensitive agriculture for their livelihoods, have little to no savings with which to absorb economic shocks, are excluded from key decision making processes, and lack access to critical social services, infrastructure, and information with which they might be able to adapt to climate change- either by avoiding or building their resilience to its impacts.

For this reason, and as part of its ongoing efforts to take “Action on Poverty” in Vietnam, AFAP has focused on the building of climate change adaptation capacity among poor and disadvantaged communities and stakeholder groups as a priority. 

AFAP Vietnam implements climate change adaptation initiatives in some of the most vulnerable locations in the country, including Hoa Binh, Dien Bien, Ha Tinh and Soc Trang provinces. It does so  in partnership with different stakeholder groups including national, provincial and local government, CSOs and mass organizations, NGOs, academics and research institutes, and the private sector. 

These initiatives have been spearheaded by two AusAID NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP)-funded projects, the “Building Resilience & Inclusion: Giving Hope to Transform (BRIGHT) to support ethnic minorities in Hoa Binh, Dien Bien Ha Tinh and Soc Trang Provinces (2011 – 2017)” project and the “Scaling up Community-Based Adaptation in Nga Nam district, Soc Trang province (2009 – 2017)” project. 

 Case study

Under its flagship climate change project, “Scaling up community based adaptation in Nga Nam district, Soc Trang province (2011-2017)”, AFAP Vietnam’s approach to building adaptive capacity is simple- identifying key local capacities and vulnerabilities with regards to climate change, and enhancing the former while ameliorating the latter. 

In Nga Nam district, one of the poorest and most climate-vulnerable locations the Mekong Delta, AFAP Vietnam has found a high level of awareness of climatic changes at the micro-level, the existence of strong social networks, as well as a latent capacity for community participation in and ownership over collaborative and sustainable rural development. 

AFAP Vietnam has thus sought to harness Nga Nam district’s social capital for climate change adaptation, including by:

  • Placing local decision makers and stakeholder groups at the centre of the project’s implementation process;
  • Supporting local government policymakers and practitioners in integrating and improving the effectiveness of climate change adaptation within policy and practice, including socioeconomic development planning and national target programmes;
  • Spreading climate change awareness as well as good practices and lessons learned in adaptation through communities using a Training-of-Trainer model;
  • Promoting the establishment and proliferation of collaborative working groups to develop and implement community-based adaptation plans;
  • Supporting the implementation of community-based adaptation plans through collectively managed revolving funds and the promotion of linkages with agricultural extension services. 

 This collaborative approach has proven to be highly successful in facilitating experience sharing on, and increasing engagement in, climate change adaptation within Nga Nam and other climate-vulnerable communities. Most importantly, the approach also ensures the sustainability and replicability of AFAP Vietnam’s climate change interventions over the long term.

Happy smile of woman with successful application of biogas model in Nga Nam District, Soc Trang Province
Action on Poverty

Action on Poverty