George Washington University’s PISA Helps Share Rural Vietnamese Climate Adaptation StrategiesNovember 21, 2011 By Schuyler Null
“Climate change is not a topic of debate in Vietnam, it’s a real challenge to future prosperity and security,” says George Washington University’s Partnerships for International Strategies in Asia (PISA) program in this video about their climate adaptation and mitigation work in Nam Dinh province. “[Vietnam’s] population density (265 people/square kilometer), its long coastline (3,444 km), its two major rivers (the Red and Mekong) – all help make it one of the 10 countries considered most vulnerable to climate change,” the narrator says.
Center for Gender, Family, the Environment, and Development to see how rural women in particular are adapting to changes. One strategy being put to use, using limestone powder in rice fields, was passed down from previous generations. The powder helps kill pests and assists in desalination, which has become more important as salt water incursion frequently accompanies storms. Women in the province have also turned to alternative livelihoods, taking up second jobs in the city to mitigate the effects of a single poor rice harvest.
PISA says that overall out-migration from rural areas to the cities, driven in part by climate change, has altered social structures. “Very few women my age stay and farm; most of them go very far away to get a job and to earn money,” Nguyen Thi Hong of Giao Luc commune told PISA. “The main reason is that they cannot depend on the agriculture – the agriculture depends too much on weather.” In addition, the most vulnerable in rural communities – children and the elderly – are sometimes left behind by parents when they move.
The community does benefit from Vietnam’s National Target Program, which sets five-year goals to help protect the country from climate change – including modeling scenarios to determine the most vulnerable areas, raising awareness within the general population, and improving communication between government agencies – while attempting to ensure continued economic growth.
However, the social changes and the adaptation strategies being utilized in rural areas are not always taken into account in national adaptation strategies, says PISA. Their goal, therefore, is to work with researchers, civil society leaders, and those in government to help bridge the communications gap so these local experiences are incorporated at the highest levels.