Changing Livelihood Options as Adaptation: A Comparative Analysis of Three Flood Control Schemes in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta

Thong Tran, Helen James

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Most riverine societies in the Lower Mekong Basin have made substantial efforts in many ways to adapt to the accelerating complexities driven by climate change, hydropower development, and local flood management policies. However, little effort has been devoted to the change in rural livelihoods to adapt to social-ecological constraints in the wake of these ‘wicked problems’. This study attempts to investigate how farming households in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta have changed their livelihoods to accommodate the operation of flood control schemes. It employs the qualitative data gathered from focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with farming households and government officials across the administrative levels. The findings suggest dramatic fragmentation in flood governance at the local level. The comparative analysis of the pre-dyke versus post-dyke contexts suggests households’ flexibility in self-organising their livelihood activities. Alteration of cropping patterns, diversification of agricultural production, and migration were found as the primary livelihood strategies adopted by different household groups. The study reveals the polarity among household groups in their capacity to adapt to change. While the better-off and medium households are more likely to enjoy advantages from the schemes, their poor counterparts are plagued with constraints in accessing resources and capacity to switch to other alternative livelihoods. This study suggests important policy implications for the adjustment of flood management options to support better the adaptive livelihood practices in the delta.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPopulation, Development, and The Environment: Challenges to Achieving the Sustainable development goals in the Asia Pacific
    Editors Helen James
    Place of PublicationSingapore
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    ISBN (Print)978-981-13-2100-9
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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