Climate Change and Environment

Case Study: Vietnam

“My family has now earned an extra of $300 USD from the last four months from the savings on our fuel expenditures and selling our fish. This livelihood can work in flood season as well.”

In the Mekong River area of Vietnam climate change has created less predicable rainfall and more intense weather systems. For people who depend on predictable weather for their livelihood, finding a reliable source of income throughout the year has become a challenge.

Through climate change adaptation projects AFAP is helping these communities become more resilient to changing weather patterns by supporting multiple income generation projects. Combining biogas construction, fish aquaculture and rice farming in one integrated livelihood model has been one of the successful avenues for diversifying income using existing resources.

Program participant Bin Ngo shared “Waste from pigs was not properly treated and the smell was just terrible! I learned how to construct a biogas tunnel that uses the waste to produce gas for cooking and lighting. Sewage from the tunnel is led to the rice fields where I farm fish and plant rice. With this technique the fish grow to maturity very quickly and after just four months we harvested both the rice and fish. My family has now earned an extra of $300 USD from the last four months from the savings on fuel expenditures and selling our fish. This livelihood can work in flood season as well”.

Our Work

It is now undisputed that increased incidences of drought and flooding are taking place. Poor and marginalized communities are the most vulnerable to these events.  Throughout 2012 AFAP has had significant success improving community resilience to climate change. This has been achieved through continued capacity building and awareness raising at the local, regional and governmental levels. AFAP’s approach is to work with the most vulnerable groups, local research institutions and national level service providers to increase planning and local capacity to mitigate against these events. We are involved with environmental conservation work, disaster risk reduction planning and income and livelihood generation, all with a view to increasing individual households resilience to economic and environmental shocks.

This year AFAP continued to address the impact of climate change in a number of innovative ways. In Samoa we are undertaking research in collaboration with partner OLSSI and the National University of Samoa, documenting mangrove biodiversity in order to facilitate greater understanding and preservation of these unique and lynchpin environments. Mangrove stands are valuable resources for local communities, who depend on the environment for survival.  However, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) research shows that one hundred metres of mangrove stands can dissipate 75% of tsunami waves (UNDP Pacific Island Mangroves: Changing Climate and Rising Seas; 2006). This natural barrier has the capacity to save ecosystems, food sources, infrastructure, and more importantly, lives.  In Vietnam climate change awareness raising work has been directed at school children, with AFAP working in twenty-eight schools through Nga Nam district, in Soc Trang.   One awareness raising activity has been particularly successful, the “Dance for Change” competition, which helps students understand the impact of climate change and identify potential solutions. The issues raised have gained attention from regional decision makers due to students and teachers promoting ideas on local television programs.

 Over 90% of people rely on firewood for energy in Malawi[1].  This places enormous pressure resources and has lead to significant deforestation and erosion. As part of the Shared Futures program, AFAP and partner Concern Universal Malawi held meetings on forestry management with local leaders and community members including Village Forestry Committees and Community Policing Forums to increase sensitivity to the need for responsible forest stewardship and development.  Our work in Malawi also promotes the use of fuel efficient cooking stoves, which helps reduce the daily quantity of firewood required.

AFAP is also supports livelihood projects, which are designed to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change.  In the Mekong region of Vietnam, events like flooding, strong winds, extreme heat and heavy rains are increasingly common. This year AFAP worked in twelve targeted communes, establishing income-generating models that aimed at successfully diversifying the livelihoods of poor and marginalised groups.  Some households earned an extra $300 USD after four months of farming fish in traditional rice fields. The initial economic gain is a good step forward for these households who now have some savings and are more resilient to economic shocks.  Our climate change work in Vietnam has also involved training local authorities. This year in Soc Trang province, we have been working with over thirty officials, who are now capable of undertaking assessments on climate change, vulnerability and adaptation as a result of participation in training and workshops. These home grown experts will play a prominent role in shaping adaptation plans that build a community’s resilience to the potential negative impacts of climate change.  AFAP Vietnam is taking a proactive role in sharing practical knowledge and experiences in climate change adaption with the region.  In June 2012 a delegation from Cambodia visited AFAP programs on an official study tour where knowledge on adaptive agricultural livelihood models, including the empowerment/up skilling of partners and farmers groups was shared.

AFAP also remains actively involved in facilitating climate change forums and advocacy efforts at the national level.  As a core member of Vietnam’s International Non- Government Organisations Climate Change Working Group, AFAP contributed to capacity building for local CBOs and Vietnamese non-governmental organisations, a strategy to form a group of local experts who will take over the leading roles and responsibilities of INGOs. AFAP also joined efforts with other leading agencies to advocate for policies and technical issues including better coordination between Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and decentralisation of resources to local levels.  Working at a local, regional and governmental level AFAP is able to build the knowledge, awareness and channels of communication that are the foundation for real long-term change. 

[1] World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

Action on Poverty

Action on Poverty