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Viet Nam climate change, adaptation and poor people

A team of Oxfam researchers travelled to the two provinces of Ben Tre and Quang Tri in May 2008 to take a snapshot of how poor families are experiencing the changing climate, and how they might deal with this in the future. Main findings from the report: <ul class='square_dot_ul' class="square_dot_ul"> <li>Poor men and women in Ben Tre and Quang Tri are already experiencing the consequences of the climate changing, and in many cases are ill-equipped to reduce, or adapt to, the consequences.</li> <li>In many villages women are hit the hardest by natural disasters. They often cannot swim, have fewer assets to turn to for alternative livelihoods when crops are destroyed, and have fewer employment opportunities away from the home.</li> <li>The perception of many villagers and local leaders is that the climate is already changing.</li> <li>The particular impacts of weather events vary from province to province, and from district to district. In the case of Ben Tre, the main problems were typhoons, unpredictable weather, and the threat of salt water intrusion from sea level rise and other factors. In Quang Tri, it was unpredictable and concentrated rainfall causing more flooding.</li> <li>The example of low-income prawn farmers in Ben Tre shows the close link between sustainable livelihoods and people's capacity to cope with, and recover from, extreme weather events. Sudden reductions in income due to poor yields have led to more families becoming vulnerable.</li> <li>Disaster risk reduction saves lives and livelihoods. Villagers in Quang Tri have shown that getting involved in local level disaster risk management programmes can significantly reduce their vulnerability to frequent or heavy flooding.</li> <li>Adaptation works. Adaptation to climate change by poor communities is at an early stage, but there are positive examples of farmers already changing their crop cycles or planting different crops.</li> <li>Awareness of climate change and its causes varies significantly between districts, communities, villages and individual households. But in general awareness is restricted to a few experts, some local authorities and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).</li> </ul> Recommendations: <ul class='square_dot_ul' class="square_dot_ul"> <li>Poor women's and men's needs and interests must be at the heart of national and local research and policy planning on adaptation. The social and economic impact of climate change on poor men and women should be at the forefront of any research and policy formulation.</li> <li>Community-based planning is the starting point for scaling up provincial and national responses. One of the best ways of reducing the risk from climate change is to draw on people's own experience and perceptions at the commune and village level, and to use that as an integral ingredient of policy responses.</li> <li>Integrate climate planning across government departments. Climate change concerns should not be isolated under the remit of any single ministry but systematically integrated across all major development sectors.</li> <li>Integrate adaptation into national development planning. Climate change adaptation policies need to be integrated into long-term planning for sustainable development and poverty alleviation policies.</li> <li>More climate change-specific research is needed. There is a pressing need for a much greater knowledge base of the possibilities of salt-resistant, flood-resistant or drought resistant crops, which should be developed with the active involvement of smallholders on their plots.</li> <li>Awareness and capacity building should be stepped up. There is an urgent need to step up public awareness campaigns and capacity building amongst key stakeholders and key leaders at district, commune and village level.</li> <li>The international community will have to play a major role in supporting the government of Viet Nam's efforts to adapt to climate change, because the amounts of investment needed are beyond its budgetary capacity.</li> </ul>

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    Oxfam International: http://oxfam.intelli-direct.com/e/d.dll?m=234&amp;url=http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/policy/climate_change/downloads/vietnam_cc_adaptation_poverty.pdf