Climate change and livelihood resilience capacities in the Mekong Delta: a case study on the transition to rice–shrimp farming in Vietnam’s Kien Giang Province

Abstract

Responding to changing climatic conditions in the Mekong Delta (MKD), Vietnam’s national and provincial governments have in recent years placed greater emphasis on aquaculture-oriented farming practices, such as shrimp and rice–shrimp farming, instead of rice monoculture. This study assessed whether the transition to rice–shrimp and extensive shrimp farming has enhanced the livelihood resilience of local farmers in Kiên Giang—a coastal province in the MKD—to climate change. A theoretical framework was developed, which combined the resilience capacities framework with the subjective resilience and Resilience Index Measurement Analysis frameworks. Subsequently, the framework was applied to examine three types of agricultural-based livelihoods: (1) monocrop rice farming; (2) rice–shrimp farming; and (3) extensive shrimp farming. A mixed-methods approach was undertaken consisting of both in-depth and semistructured interviews as well as household surveys (n = 120). The findings demonstrated that rice–shrimp farmers’ livelihoods were relatively the most resilient to climate change. On the other hand, rice farmers were generally more able to recover from climate stressors, such as drought and saline intrusion, whereas shrimp farmers, lacking transformative capacity, were the least resilient. This study concluded that the governmental decision to transition Kiên Giang’s agricultural sector towards rice–shrimp farming has been relatively successful.

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Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

This study was conducted at the Faculty of Geosciences of Utrecht University and Kiên Giang University. We extend special thanks to all research participants, local staff, Yi-Ya Hsu, and the anonymous reviewers. This manuscript was edited by Wallace Academic Editing.

Funding

This study was partly supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) of Taiwan under Grant No. MOST- 109-2636-H-003 -007.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection, and analysis were performed by TP, MMB, and DVN. The first draft of the manuscript was written by MMB, TP, and TAT and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Mucahid Mustafa Bayrak.

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Poelma, T., Bayrak, M.M., Van Nha, D. et al. Climate change and livelihood resilience capacities in the Mekong Delta: a case study on the transition to rice–shrimp farming in Vietnam’s Kien Giang Province. Climatic Change 164, 9 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-021-02973-w

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Keywords

  • Mekong Delta
  • Vietnam
  • Climate change
  • Resilience capacities
  • Livelihood resilience
  • Aquaculture