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Resilience of agricultural systems facing increased salinity intrusion in deltaic coastal areas of Vietnam

Minh Tu Nguyen, United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)
Fabrice G Renaud, United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS); School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow, Dumfries, UK
Zita Sebesvari, United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)
Duy Can Nguyen, College of Rural Development, Can Tho University, Can Tho City, Vietnam

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-11186-240419

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Abstract

The resilience concept has provided a new insight and approach to the conventional perspective of agricultural management by emphasizing the need to maintain a diversity of future options to adapt to inevitable and often unpredictable changes. The concept has been taken up by various academic disciplines and development sectors, yet ways to define and operationalize resilience as a measurable concept are still being developed. We contributed to this ongoing effort by implementing a subjective resilience assessment method based on farmers’ perceptions of three resilience components: (1) the sensitivity of their agricultural systems to increased salinity intrusion, (2) the capacity to recover from salinity damage, and (3) the capacity to change to other systems if salinity increases in the future. We conducted 27 in-depth interviews with local and national authorities, 11 focus group discussions, and 118 semistructured and 219 structured interviews with farmers in case study villages located along salinity transects in the Mekong Delta and at different distances to sea dikes in the Red River Delta in Vietnam in 2015-2016. Results from the subjective resilience assessment reveal that none of the agricultural systems studied systematically scored higher than the other systems on all three resilience components, implying that an increase in one resilience component by switching agricultural systems would negatively affect others. Agricultural responses to this salinity problem will influence current and long-term adaptability of the systems to future changes in salinity intrusion and other social-ecological developments in the deltas. Improving resilience components, e.g., through policies and interventions, resource allocation, and farming system changes, to sustain agricultural production or facilitate transformation to alternative systems when necessary is critically important for agricultural systems facing stress. Complementing subjective resilience assessments with qualitative data is thus crucial for understanding the drivers of resilience to improve components of resilience for agricultural systems in the respective deltas.

Key words

agricultural systems; salinity intrusion; subjective resilience assessment; Vietnam

Copyright © 2019 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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