Sustainable Livelihood and
Income Generation

As a result of its significant successes in poverty reduction & economic growth in recent years, Vietnam has transitioned to a Middle-Income Country (MIC). However, the opportunities that have been created by Vietnam’s rapid development and increased integration within global markets have not been equitably distributed or realized.  In some cases, the increased exposure of Vietnam’s agricultural sector to global market forces has increased the vulnerability of the rural poor to price shocks. 

Ninety percent of the poor in Vietnam are located in rural areas, underscoring the importance of pro-poor rural development. Moreover, the threat posed by climate change to rural livelihoods and food security makes identifying and implementing new, climate-resilient income streams an imperative.

In response to these challenges, and as part of its ongoing efforts to take “Action on Poverty” in Vietnam, AFAP has prioritized the promotion of sustainable livelihoods and income generation. In doing so, AFAP works with poor and ethnic minorities, and in particular women, to promote sustainable agricultural practices, strengthen adaptability and the capacity of the poor for reducing dependence on external resources, implementing models of eco-friendly, low input production, and strengthening collective capacity for market access and competitiveness.

Specific activities that AFAP has conducted under its sustainable livelihoods and income promotion program includes:

  • Promoting the development and capacity building of local social enterprises and cooperatives in project areas, and engaging them as project partners; 
  • Conducting research on the identification of available resources and avenues for sustainable livelihoods and income generation for the poor; 
  • Carrying out analysis on and developing value chains for the poor; 
  • Diversification of rural income streams with additional climate-resilient livelihood models;
  • Undertaking institutional strengthening and market-access promotion with smallholder farmer-based organisations and supporting networks such as farmers’ cooperatives, rural mass organizations, and local social enterprises.

AFAP implements sustainable livelihoods and income generation activities in all of its program areas, including the provinces of Hoa Binh, Dien Bien, Ha Tinh, Phu Tho, and Soc Trang provinces, in partnership with different stakeholder groups including local governments, CSOs and mass organizations, NGOs, academics and research institutes, and the private sector. 

Case study

Ly Hoang Hanh, 60 years old, is a retired teacher who lives in Toan Son Commune, Da Bac district, Hoa Binh province. Since his retirement in 2010, he has earned extra income primarily from growing maize and cassava. His family has 4 members, in which one of his children is still studying. However, his farming area is limited and not sufficient to support all of his family’s needs.

Mr. Hanh’s village is one of several areas in the district that has been targeted by the AFAP’s BRIGHT (Building Resilience & Inclusion: Giving Hope to Transform) program. With the purpose of diversifying income streams and introducing new, more climate-adaptive livelihood models to vulnerable local people, in November 2012 the project launched the caged fish farming model in the village. Mr. Hanh received training on caged fish farming techniques, including fish disease control, as well as 5,000,000 VND to buy 30kg of grass carp to implement model. 

After 8 months, from 300g per fish, the weight of fish reached 1.5-1.7kg each. According to Mr. Hanh, after one year of implementation, the average weight of each fish is from 2.2 to 2.5kg on average, with each cage able to carry 300 fish. With the average price for grass carp being 70,000 VND per kilo, Mr. Hanh could earn 10,000,000 VND in profit every year. He also said that, “My initial investment in the fish cage was not high because my family had a Luong tree (a kind of bamboo) and only need to buy string to make the cage.”  

He reported that caged fish rearing could be up to three times more effective as raising pigs and fish. However, he was uncertain of the model at the beginning: “Since I did not have much money and this was a very new business, I was not confident about it at the beginning. However, after the first harvest, I have decided to invest further to have about two more cages,” he said. 

In Hoa Binh province, caged fish rearing takes advantage of a range of favourable conditions, including all-year warm water, natural food sources, and idle labour from the out-of-farming season. Examples like Mr. Hanh’s have demonstrated the suitability of the livelihood model for current investment and the context and needs of local people, as it helps them to earn more income and escape from poverty.

Mr. Ly Hoang Hanh is visiting his caged fish rearing model
Action on Poverty

Action on Poverty