Climate Change and Food Security in Vietnam Case Study
Case study for HRBA
Contributing to more than 6% of total world rice production and 15% of global rice export, Vietnam is not only assessed as national food secured but also contributing significantly to global food security. However, when the concept of household food security is concerned, there is a large number of disadvantaged people facing food insecurity. Among the factors threatening food security is the impacts of climate change.
According to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and World Bank (WB) forecasts, Vietnam will be one among the five countries being worst affected and the most vulnerable in East Asia by the rise of sea level, causing flood and sanitation leakage/poisoning?salinity intrusion, that may destroy millions hectares of productive land. If the sea level raises 1 m, there will be 10% of population directly affected and a loss of 10% of GDP may happen. If there is not any response, in 2100, Vietnam will loose at least 12.2% land, which is place for living for 23% of population; 22 million of people in Vietnam will lose their house; and 45% of land for agriculture in the Mekong River Delta, the granary in Vietnam, will sink in sea water. If this happens, Vietnam would not anymore contribute to global food security but even not being able to produce enough food for its own population.
Ho Do is a commune lying in the coastal areas of Loc Ha District, Ha Tinh province, It has 91 hectares of land for salt production and more than 90 hectares for aquaculture, but has no agricultural land. Salt production is a traditional practice, handed from generation to generation. In the early 1990s, it was a significant source of household income in the commune. However, productivity is not high (about 80-85 tons per hectare per year) because of traditional production methods, and annual revenue from salt is only 5-7 billion dong.
Salt making is a traditional livelihood, which contributed the main income source for the people in this community. A few years back, when the price of salt was unstable and there were adverse weather conditions, salt farmers’ incomes has become lower and lower. As a consequence, the number of households depending on salt production for their main income has been dropping dramatically. According to the Women’s Union of Ho Do commune, the population of the commune in 2009 was 7,584, of whom just 840 were in salt production (11.5% of the population), whereas the number of people working as hired labourers was around 2,000 (26.4% of the total population and 64.4% of the commune’s working-age population). According to Mr Pham Van Khang, head of Xuan Tan hamlet, Ho Do commune, in the years 2005 and 2006, about 10% of households gave up salt production each year, but in 2010, 30% gave up. In Xuan Dong and Xuan Nam villages, most households have given up salt production, including those who were sponsored to implement more modern salt production techniques.
Storms and heavy rain affect the salt production process. The salt-producing season for lasts only from April to August, and farmers have about 100 days of sunshine during those months. However, according to our household interviews, rainfall is increasing and, therefore, flooding occurs more often. This affects local salt production activities, specifically: Rains and storms (and the time it takes for water to recede) shorten the salt-producing season, which is contributing to lower incomes for salt farmers. Previously, the salt production season extended from February to September, but now lasts only from April to August due to the earlier start of the rainy season. Floods and rain destroy the salt fields and the soil needed to make salt. The water sweeps away the sand and reduces nutrition in the sand. Rain causes salt stocks to melt. At the same time, polluted water flows into the dykes around salt fields that hold the water to make salt. The famers then have to buy new sand to make salt. Poor salt quality in Ho Do commune and lack of a stable salt market in the area is also the reason for low price of salt. Usually, the salt market is regulated by private traders who tend to reduce the price whenever there has been a good yield. If farmers store their salt to sell after the harvest season, they face the risk of floods washing away their stocks. Apart from private retail traders, the only company that can buy a large amount of salt is Ha Tinh Salt Joint Stock Company, which is currently facing many difficulties.
The impact of changing weather and falling salt prices has considerably narrowed the area of salt production in Ho Do commune. As a result, salt production has no more been a good source of income for the people in the locality. Thousands of local people must go to Ha Tinh or other cities to work as temporary hired labourers to earn their living. According to the interview with People’s Committee of Ho Do Commune, among 2,000 employed workers in Ho Do commune, about 1,500 people have gone to other provinces to find work, while the rest have gone to Ha Tinh city. Most households in the commune have at least one member working as a hired labourer – mainly men and young people. As the income sources of most family in Ho Doc commune now depend on temporary wage labour, it is no more stable, and many families are facing the risk of food shortage.
II/. Government Policies
As climate change has become an increasingly prominent international issue, Vietnam has engaged in a number of initiatives pursuant to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol – with MONRE acting as the focal point for the UNFCCC and as the Designated National Authority for the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Initiatives include the preparation of Vietnam’s Initial National Communication and the development of CDM national processes and proposals. More recently, many national policies have incorporated climate change considerations into mainstream environmental management, biodiversity conservation and other cross-sector targets like reducing poverty or improving the lives of women. Some of the key policies and programmes on climate change in Vietnam includes: 1) The Initial National Communication (INC) to the UNFCCC (MONRE, 2003) was the first policy document on climate change in Vietnam. However, the INC explored climate change impacts and adaptation measures only in a preliminary and qualitative way (UNDP, 2007). 2). In December 2008, the National Target Programme on Response to Climate Change (NTP-RCC) was approved by the government. The NTP-RCC supports research and awareness raising, and helps with coordination. It also promotes international cooperation in order to obtain external support for responses to climate change, with the hope that 50% of total investment finance for implementing the NTP would be foreign capital (approximately 1,000 billion VND, equivalent to US$53.3m at 2010 exchange rate). 3). The National Strategy and Action Plan for Natural Disaster Prevention, Response and Mitigation to 2020 (NSDPRM), issued in 2007, set a national framework for disaster management. 4). The Action Plan for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in the Agriculture and Rural Development Sector is believed to be essential for sustainable agriculture and rural development.
Despite the extensive policies and programmes on climate change in Vietnam, there are gaps in securing right to food of the disadvantaged people those are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, particularly: Current legal documents and regulations on coping with climate change are not aligned with new policies. For example, some policies do not have legal backing that would facilitate proposed actions related to climate change. Furthermore, there are no bodies to coordinate ministries, local government and other public and commercial sectors, nor are there effective ways of ensuring that all communities and sections of the population can participate in programmes to respond to climate change.
III/. AAV Interventions
Aiming at supporting famers in Ho Do commune to sustain their livelihood in order to build stronger resilience to disasters and climate change, AAV has implemented several activities in the location. The implementing partners of this project is Ha Tinh Center for Community Development, a local NGOs, who is also partnering with AAV to implement the long term programme in the DA. Tell us a little about the partner organisation here.
With the funding source from ECHO, AAV has supported farmers in Ho Do to upgrade their salt fields with 2 total area of about 5,016m2. The construction included main structures:
- Building platforms with salt-delivery road at the amount of 1,152,62m3.
- Concrete edged the 2 salt-fields at 456.41m long and 11m wide.
- Paved the salt-delivery road at 456,41m long and 1.4m wide.
- Built by cement the ready-made equipments for salt-production including 104 salt-filtering systems and 208 big salt-water tanks.
- Beneficiary households contributed expenses to build the salt-harvesting grounds.
With the upgrade of Ho Do salt-field systems, the project helped beneficiary households to strengthen their mitigation against disaster due to the fact that the salt-platform will not damaged by storms, reducing investment for beneficiary households and through that make their livelihood better. After the salt-fields were delivered to beneficiary households, the productivity of these salt-field increases from 70kg/500m2 to 100-150kg/500m2 with better quality of salt. The total area of salt-production of these 2 salt-fields is 27,000m2.
Mrs. Tran Thi Hue, 38 years old, lives with her husband and 3 children; earns living mostly by salt making in Vinh Yen hamlet, Ho Do commune, a coastal commune frequently impacted by disaster in Loc Ha district, Ha Tinh province.
In 2007, during Lekima typhoon, her family was heavily impacted. Her house was un-roofed and her salt-field was flooded and destroyed so that she could not make salt anymore. Foodstuff in her family nearly finished but she almost had no other kind of livelihood. She said: “After the typhoon, my family was worried because food reserved in my family at that time was enough only for 1 week and we did not know how to solve that situation”. Some time later, her family had to face with another problem. Her family’s salt-field was damaged during the Lekima typhoon and her family live was more unstable.
In the project funded by ECHO and ActionAid, her family was supported to upgrade their salt-field to recover sustainable livelihood.
Ms Hue said “Previously, my family’s salt-production reached low effectiveness because of the changing weather, especially when disaster happens, our salt-field usually is damaged. Now everything is different. With the upgraded salt-field, my family’s income is more stable and we are not worried about salt-field damage because it is firmed constructed. If typhoon comes, we are not scarce anymore because this construction helps us enough capacity to cope with disasters”, she smiled and said.
Besides the direct support provided to the farmers, AAV and its partner in Ha Tinh also work closely with the district authority, engage them in AAV programme and advocate to replicate AAV initiatives. The district authorities (government leaders and professional agencies) have been invited to participate to the consultation workshops, invited to the interactions with community members, engaging/consulted on the evaluation of project, so that they can be well informed on the issues and progress of the programme. Tell us a little bit more about how you engage the district authority and what your advocacy work is. How exactly are you advocating? Being convinced about the impacts from AAV project, the government authority (district people council) of Loc Ha district has invested to upgrade salt field for other farmers in Ho Do Communes from government budget.
ActionAid also conducted research to investigate deeper impacts of climate change on the life and livelihood of people in Loc Ha district. The research was conducted by a team leading by a senior scientist, who is also the member of the advisory board of the central office for National Target Programme Response to Climate change. Who did you conduct the research with? Findings and recommendations from this research has been used to advocate local (district and provincial) government. ,Targeting to the provincial action plan to implement NTP-RCC, AAV and HCCD, in collaboration with the provincial Department of Natural resources (DONRE) orgainsed three workshops at provincial and district level, where the result of the research as well as AAV position and recommendations were presented. The findings and recommendations were highly appreciated by provincial and district authorities with high level of commitment to follow up with the recommendation while developing the action plan of the province.
At National level, a launching workshop of the research was launch with participation of representation from different Government ministries (MONRE, MARD), UN agencies, Academies, networks and NGOs. Besides, AAV actively engaged in different forums of CSOs (Climate change working group), different consultation workshop of MONRE, MARD and other government and UN agencies. The findings and recommendations were widely shared and presented by AAV. Via these forums, AAV emphasis that, government should speed up realization of the National Target Programme, with particular emphasis on the followings: 1). stronger measures to incorporate climate response in to social economy development strategy; 2). capacity building for local officials, and awareness raising for communities; 3). increase investment in research, with community participation, to identify appropriate solutions for specific location, with special attention to the most vulnerable groups, which consist of poor farmers, women and children; 4). increase investment to identify, promote communities’ initiatives in climate change response.
to ensure that the government target programme on climate change response will take into account the vulnerability of the poor, and appropriate measurements to build their resilience. I think it would be helpful to outline what your advocacy strategy was – what were the specific policy/programme change asks you were making, how exactly did you advocate (what activities?) and has there been any impact. Over what period were you advocating and does this still continue?
To join the effort of CSOs calling developed countries to fulfill their responsibility of providing adequate resources to support poor countries, like Vietnam to adapt to climate change effectively, a case study on the impact of climate change on the poor people in Vietnam, was developed, from the story salt makers in Ha Tinh. Two farmers from Ha Tinh was supported to participate to the CSOs delegation to the Conference of Parties on Climate change (Cop15) in Copenhagen. The report on impacts of Climate change on livelihood and food security of poor farmers in Vietnam was also sent to the Vietnam delegation to use as their reference in their negotiation during Cop16.
At present AAV is continuing to follow up with this initiative both in terms of supporting communities to strengthened their resilient capacity as well as advocating for strong attention and more investment from government and donor to support the most vulnerable community to cope with the issues of climate change.