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30 sep 2015

MRS No. 51 - Vulnerability to Environmental Stress: Household Livelihoods, Assets and Mobility in the Mekong Delta, Viet Nam

Climate change negotiations have put migration, displacement and planned relocation as a direct or indirect result of climate change in the spotlight. The Cancun Agreement in 2010 called for enhanced understanding of human mobility and climate change, and, more recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2014 assessment report acknowledged migration as an effective adaptation strategy in response to both extreme weather events and longer-term climate change. Despite increased awareness, more empirical evidence and case studies are called for better understanding and to inform policymaking on human mobility and climate change. 

This study explores vulnerability and household response measures in the contexts of environmental stress in the Mekong Delta of Viet Nam. Displacement estimates are often based on broad assumptions derived from macro-scale geographical data, viewing individuals’ vulnerability to hazards through the lens of their physical proximity to hazard-prone areas. Given that household assets shape responses to opportunities and threats, this report examines key household assets which determine the household vulnerability, livelihood outcomes and those critical for mobility decision-making in the face of environmental change. 
The report also provides analysis of government relocation programmes targeting households susceptible to hazards and draws attention to the most asset-poor, who are often trapped and  the least able to both adapt to stressors in- situ, or migrate elsewhere.

  • Acknowledgements
  • Abstract
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. The Mekong Delta and Research Sites
  • 3. Conceptual Frameworks
    • 3.1. Vulnerability and political ecology
    • 3.2. Sustainable Livelihoods Framework
    • 3.3. Asset vulnerability
  • 4. Methodology
    • 4.1. Site Selection
    • 4.2. Sampling
  • 5. Findings
    • 5.1. The homestead
    • 5.2. Agricultural land
    • 5.3. Human assets
    • 5.4. Relocation and vulnerability shifts
    • 5.5. Environmental stress and (im)mobility
  • 6. Reflections and Conclusions
    • 6.1. The environment in context
    • 6.2. A holistic and micro-scale approach to vulnerability
  • Bibliography
  • Endnotes