Farmers' perceptions of and responses to annual flood events in the Vietnamese Mekong River Delta: adapting to climate change impacts
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Regions around the globe with a monsoon climate experience large inter- seasonal 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 Millen- nium Development Goals of poverty alleviation (ibid.). 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 US$2 per day (FAO, 2011; MRC, 2012). In the Mekong River Basin, rapidly increasing population and urbaniza- tion 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 implica- tions 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 reflec- tion 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).