2. Helping poor and vulnerable populations in Viet Nam build resilience to negative consequences of climate change

Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg

Livelihoods of poor and vulnerable households are more at risk from climate shocks

Climate change is evolving faster than ever, and its consequences are stronger and more widespread than predicted by the scientific community. This is evidenced in and around the Tam Giang-Cau Hai Lagoon in Thua Thien Hue province, Viet Nam, where the livelihoods of families in and near poverty are threatened by heavier floods in the wet season, increased droughts in the dry season, more frequent typhoons and changing ecosystems. Poor households are forced into drastic measures to ensure their survival, such as taking children out of school or selling productive assets. Even minor weather events can quickly escalate into crisis, and despite Viet Nam’s impressive progress in poverty reduction over the last decades, vulnerable households are again increasingly at risk of falling back below poverty thresholds. Affected households urgently need to find sustainable approaches to enhance their resilience against the multiple threats of climate change.

Building resilience by improving capacity at institutional, organisational and individual levels

The Climate Adapted Local Development and Innovation Project (CALDIP)1 was a four and a half year, EUR 10 million project co-funded by Luxembourg and Viet Nam and implemented by LuxDev in 29 littoral and coastal communes in Thua Thien Hue province. The aim was to help communities and local authorities build resilience and meet socio-economic and environmental challenges through adaptation to changing conditions. Inclusive approaches were developed to achieve that objective, with communities taking the lead and working hand in hand with local government and civil society.

Of the approximately 58 500 beneficiary households, 10 916 were classified as “poor” or “near poor”. Of these poor and near poor households, roughly 70% were headed by women, and 30% were former boat people resettled on land. The project aimed to strengthen populations’ abilities to respond to climate shocks by prioritising: 1) improved community and government management systems and assets for socio-economic development; 2) increased protection, availability, resilience and use of resources; and 3) more diverse, efficient and market-competitive productive activities. There was special concern for supporting women and girls to improve skills, livelihoods, all forms of participation, health, child nutrition and kindergarten activities; and a strategic focus on alleviating discrimination, economic disparities and cultural disadvantages. The skill sets of the population and leadership were expanded through specific training sessions on gender equality, cultivation, livestock rearing, adaptation and mitigation. The focus on capacity building increased the project’s impact due to the enhanced ability of project beneficiaries to train the wider community.

Inclusive approach to planning, explicit targeting and strong partnerships for effective co-ordinated action

A large body of data provides evidence of the project’s impact on the lives and livelihoods of targeted populations. A comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system captured progress and impact on a regular basis, and a randomised control trial in three control communes outside of the target area demonstrated the project’s positive impact, specifically on poverty levels and climate vulnerabilities.2

This evidence shows why inclusive, participatory approaches should be integrated into climate-resilient local plans. Each commune completed five-year socio-economic development plans as required by the government, but with a major focus on climate adaptation and resilience, as well as Commune Vulnerability Capacity Assessments identifying major climate vulnerabilities. These became major tools for communities’ and local authorities’ joint annual project planning sessions.

Strong networks and partnerships between communities, local government and civil society led to clear implementation responsibilities and joint coordinated action. Mobilising the various partners and strengthening their capacities was instrumental for ownership and sustainability.

The project implemented 180 different activities per year in ten broad intervention areas. Most of these activities ensured - through quotas - a minimum participation of poor and near-poor households, as well as women. Whereas most activities required beneficiary contributions, subsidies were provided for vulnerable households. Targeting resettled households separately was also crucial. One of the project’s ten broad intervention areas specifically targeted an overall improvement in living conditions of resettled boat people, considered among the most vulnerable.

Finally, infrastructure selection criteria needed to be clear and based on objective data. These were developed to assess, rank and select small-scale hardware interventions supporting and protecting livelihoods, while earmarking 30% of the annual infrastructure budget to the poorest villages.

What next?

The final evaluation report stated that a number of project results are likely to continue after project closure given the relevance of the interventions, benefits to local populations, easy application, ownership and commitment of local government, and enhanced capacities of key beneficiaries, including government adoption of specific planning and implementation approaches and their roll-out across the province. Results and lessons learned, presented inter alia in a project compendium,3 were broadly shared and are being integrated into two new interventions in the province with support from Luxembourg’s international climate funding.

End of the section – Back to iLibrary publication page