Farmers’ perceptions of and responses to annual flood events in the vietnamese mekong river delta: Adapting to climate change impacts

Van Kien Nguyen, Kim Alexander

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Regions around the globe with a monsoon climate experience large interseasonal variations of river flows (FAO, 2009). One of the world’s largest river basins, the Mekong River, is a shared water resource of great social, economic and environmental importance to the six countries (Myanmar, China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam) through which it flows (Moglia et al., 2008). Optimizing the sustainable use of the basin’s water is considered the best approach to improving welfare and realizing the Millennium Development Goals of poverty alleviation. Inhabitants of the Mekong River Basin (MRB) are mostly rural farmers/fishers and are among the poorest in the world with a third of the population living on less than USS2 per day (FAO, 2011; MRC, 2012). In the Mekong River Basin, rapidly increasing population and urbanization are placing pressure on food, water and energy needs (MRC, 2012; Huong and Pathirana, 2013). In this region, the impacts of climate change and climate variability increasingly occur. Stern (2006, 2007) and Garnaut (2008) predict that global climate change impacts will lead to sea level rise, coastal erosion, spreading vector borne diseases and more frequent and intense extreme events, i.e. cyclones, heat waves, storm surges and flooding events. This chapter focuses on the impact of more frequent and extreme flooding events in the Mekong River Delta (MRD). Such floods have direct implications for Vietnam’s rice crop, which relies heavily on the waters of the MRD to sustain annual production. While flood events occur annually from July to November in the MRD, increasing flood variability can be seen as a reflection of changing precipitation and land use patterns (Moglia et al., 2008, 2012; WMO, 2009). Flood events have inherently localized impacts, yet are interdependent and almost fully reliant on the interaction between social systems and their technical and ecological contexts (Alexander et al., 2010; Alexander and West, 2011). Chapter 1 describes this book’s overarching analytical framework (see Ch. 1, Figure 1.1), which can be used to highlight the complexity of water resources management, particularly in terms of adapting to the impacts of climate change. Without effective mitigation strategies, increasing climate change impacts such as flooding will have consequences at the local level, directly affecting the environment, equity and livelihood security of impacted communities. Capacity building for communities and local practices, coupled with capacity building for institutions and policy-making, is required to enable communities to adapt to the increasing risks and hazards of variable annual flooding exacerbated by climate change. This chapter reflects on the importance of local perceptions of flooding events and household adaptive capacity and coping strategies used to prepare and respond to annual flooding in the MRD. In particular, flood events in 1978 and 2000 were the most notable in this region, as the floods submerged and destroyed many village houses and drowned many fishermen, women, children and livestock. With climate change predictions indicating more frequent and intense extreme weather events, support for local adaptation strategies is critical for this region. By understanding how local villagers perceive, prepare for and respond to flood threats, the authors suggest that local knowledge - in the form of human and social capital - can inform policy and help secure the necessary financial capital to support adaptive capacity and resilience in the face of increasingly variable floods (Scoones, 2009).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdaptation to Climate Change through Water Resources Management
Subtitle of host publicationCapacity, Equity and Sustainability
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781136200397
ISBN (Print)9780415635936
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Farmers’ perceptions of and responses to annual flood events in the vietnamese mekong river delta: Adapting to climate change impacts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this