The Climate-Smart Village in Northern Vietnam is a Triple Win Solution

This year’s Climate and Society class is out in the field (or lab or office) completing a summer internship or thesis. They’ll be documenting their experiences one blog post at a time. Read on to see what they’re up to.

Emilene Sivagnanam, C+S ’16

Vietnam is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in the entire world. From sea level rise to saltwater intrusion to flooding to drought, the impacts are numerous and will likely be severe.

As the climate and land changes, there is no doubt that agricultural productivity will be impacted as well and with it, the livelihoods of many men and women. In Vietnam, 60 percent of women and 56 percent of men are employed by agriculture according to the World Bank. Therefore, it is pertinent for agricultural practices to transform and reorient to the new realities of climate change, and this can be done through climate-smart agriculture.

According to the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security program (CCAFS), climate-smart agriculture is an interdisciplinary approach to address the challenges of food security and climate change and aims to achieve the following:

  1. In a sustainable manner, increase agricultural productivity, meanwhile supporting an equitable increase in farm incomes, food security, and development;
  2. Build resilience by adapting agricultural and food security systems in numerous dimensions;
  3. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.
Source: International Center for Tropical Agriculture

Source: International Center for Tropical Agriculture

During my internship this past summer in Hanoi, Vietnam, I was able to visit the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), which is the lead research center of the CCAFS program. During my visit, I learned about CIAT’s climate-smart village project in Northern Vietnam. This village, called Ma, is unique because it uses climate-smart agriculture to address food insecurity, poverty and climate change.

In order to accomplish these objectives, the Ma village must address climate impacts that have affected agricultural output. Currently, the village is seeing an increase in summer mean temperatures and a decrease in winter mean temperatures, more crop diseases, extreme weather events and changes in the start of the rainy season, resulting in a prolonged dry season.

The climate-smart village strategy that CIAT implements is designed to reduce the impacts of climate change by using methods or tools that are site-specific, yet adaptable.

“Specific climate-smart agriculture interventions are selected and linked to make the system smarter, and to maximize its impacts on the ground and to the people,” Bui Le Vinh, the project coordinator of project in Ma village, said.

The strategies in Ma village range from using a cassava grass strip combined with livestock production to planting drought tolerant rice.

Interventions are not chosen lightly. CCAFS, CIAT, Northern Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute, Vietnam’s Institute for Agricultural Environment and Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development held a workshop that gathered researchers, stakeholders, experts and community members to decide on the priority practices to be piloted in Ma village. Rigorous interviews, literature reviews, field surveys and cost-benefit analyses were considered before the practices were narrowed down to five specific approaches.

During the workshop, farmers reviewed the technologies on posters to rank which ones they felt were the most necessary. Credit: Bui Le Vinh, Research Coordinator, CCAFS FP1.1 project

During the workshop, farmers reviewed the technologies on posters to rank which ones they felt were the most necessary. Credit: Bui Le Vinh, Research Coordinator, CCAFS FP1.1 project

Through this participatory process, there’s a focus not just on effective technologies, but also on ones that are most likely to be scaled out or up. When projects are scaled out, the projects are spread within a smaller geographical area, such as a district or province. On the other hand, scaling up a project involves more investment, efforts and participation from the government. The integration of technologies in climate-smart villages are important because they address agricultural growth and produce triple-win solutions addressing food insecurity, poverty and climate change. Scaling out or up climate-smart villages could help tackle these issues on a wider scale and help the people and development of Vietnam significantly.

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