Ecosystem-based adaptation to increase flood resilience of vulnerable people – Evidence from central Vietnam
Floods are amongst the most devastating natural disasters, especially in Asia. Sea-level rise, changing rainfall patterns due to climate change as well as rapid urbanization result in increased flood risks at Asia’s coasts and inland areas.
Developing countries are especially vulnerable to floods due to their limited capacity to prevent and absorb disaster effects. Furthermore, within developing countries the poorest people are often the most vulnerable, as they live in the most threatened locations and struggle to adapt due to income constraints. Women present another vulnerable group, because they commonly experience disadvantages in social, cultural, economic and political domains as well as legal status and opportunities. These socio-cultural circumstances lead to increased deaths among women during floods, and higher poverty rates due to more unemployment and a lack of basic rights. Moreover, women face more psychological stress during and after a disaster due to the women’s caretaker role.
To limit the impacts of floods, ‘structural measures’, such as dikes or reservoirs, are the main focus of flood management in many regions within Asia, including Vietnam. However, these measures are often associated with negative impacts on the environment, on which especially poor and vulnerable communities depend on. A useful and complementary approach is Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA).
EbA is a more inclusive approach that takes into consideration vulnerable groups, whose livelihoods directly depend on natural resources, and make it a possible means to strengthen their position by offering multiple benefits. These measures also seem promising to help achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 5 (Gender equality), 10 (Reduced inequalities) and 13 (Climate Action). Ecosystem-based adaptation in Thua Thien-Hue Province
The Vietnamese province of Thua Thien-Hue is regularly hit by floods, which stand to get worse in the future. Recent flood events in November 2017 resulted in a cost of 830 billion VND and led to the loss of nine lives. The threat posed by floods makes adapting and managing flooding a highly urgent matter. At the same time, many of Thua Thien-Hue’s coastal communities suffer from unstable livelihoods and insufficient (financial) resources to recover from disasters. On average, 55% of a household’s income and a little less than 20% of the household’s food consumption comes from seafood, showing the importance of this natural resource. Additionally, women do not have a strong decision-making role and as such are often left out of adaptation and management plans.
In 2018, two EbA measures will be implemented in Thua Thien Hue Province jointly with the Disaster Management Centre, the Women’s Union and local communities. Both EbA measures aim to reduce flood risks while simultaneously supporting local livelihoods. In the old town of Hue City, we will restore urban water bodies. These are important water retention areas during heavy rainfall events. Moreover, many households live near the ponds or visit them frequently: about 50% of the respondents visit them at least once a day, which means the ponds and their appearance have a significant impact on the way people experience their environment. At the Tam Giang Lagoon, mangrove restoration will take place. Mangroves can help reduce wave and tidal energy as well as coastal erosion. Moreover, they improve water quality and provide important breeding grounds for fish. Here we will provide evidence that both measures hold up to the promise that EbA is favored by vulnerable groups, and is therefore more inclusive.
For this study we conducted 1010 comprehensive household surveys across Hue City and the Tam Giang Lagoon. The comprehensive survey included a discrete choice experiment (DCE). A DCE is a valuation method that is widely used to value goods that are not (yet) sold on the market and is commonly applied. A DCE involves making choices between different packages that consist of changes in ecosystem services and a payment for these changes. By observing the trade-offs that respondents make it is possible to estimate relative values of the goods. This reveals the willingness-to-pay (WTP) of the local households for changes in the ecosystem services that are affected by the EbA measures, which are presented in Figure 1.
We find that there are positive WTP values for all ecosystem services. This indicates that the households in both sites see benefits from the EbA measures that they are willing to pay for. At the Tam Giang Lagoon the most valued change is the increase in seafood abundance. A change in recreation suitability, i.e. a cleaner urban areas with more opportunities for recreational activities, is valued most in Hue City. To investigate if EbA is more inclusive, we divided our sample in two sub-samples according to income and gender differences.
Figures 2 and 3 show the estimated WTP for households above and below the mean income of our sample. It is clear that lower income households are willing to pay more for the benefits from EbA. While these households have less money to spend, they stand to gain more due to their current vulnerability. For example, less damage to their property means smaller repair costs and an overall safer environment, whereas increases in tourism, or recreation suitability, can lead to better employment and business opportunities. The potential increases in seafood abundance result in more stable livelihoods and food security.
Via the gender sub-samples we find that women have higher WTP values for all the ecosystem services, except for changes in tourism in Hue City, where WTP values are more or less the same (see Figures 4 and 5). An increase in protection from storms and floods not only protects women and their family’s lives during a flood, but also means that the work that needs to be done during the flood itself and the aftermath is reduced. Positive changes in seafood abundance and recreation suitability mean a more secure and pleasant environment for their household. The development of tourism provides interesting opportunities for women to increase and stabilize their income, especially in the rural areas where little other job opportunities arise.
EbA is a possible means to adapt to climate change and can reduce the risk of disasters while simultaneously improving the flood resilience of those that are especially vulnerable to the impacts. Analyses focusing on the role of women and the poor in EbA measures implemented in Central Vietnam, such as the restoration of urban ponds and mangroves, provide an evidence in favor. Lower income households as well as women, in both urban and coastal areas, hold higher values for the changes that occur due to these measures, which not only reduce the risk of climate change impacts, but also present (new) livelihood opportunities and income security. It is therefore recommended to consider complementing structural measures such as dikes or reservoirs with EbA measures, and look into locations where EbA measures can replace hard measures altogether.
In addition to this policy brief, the ResilNam project will complement these findings by also making further recommendations regarding:
The gender gap in flood resilience across the province;
The possible well-being impacts of flooding (across genders);
Centre for Social Research and Development (CSRD) associated with Thua Thien Hue Women’s Union held a communication to enhance the awareness of flood resilience for the members of local Women’s Union in 4 wards of Hue city, namely, Thuan Thanh, Thuan Hoa, Thuan Loc and Tay Loc; and 3 communes in Thua Thien Hue Province, such as Hai Duong – Huong Tra town, Loc Vinh – Phu Loc district and Quang Loi – Quang Dien district.
Ecosystem, Ecosytem-based Adaptation and Flood Resilience were considered the theme of communication in local areas throughout. The role of women in flood and disaster resilience were especially emphasized.
In communication meetings, women attended, acquired knowledge and jointly participated in many acitvities related to ecosystem and disaster, such as cultural arts, skits, Q & A, Vietnamese chanty, hat cheo,…These activites were lively, excited and actively joined by women.
In the following period, CSRD is expected to implement some activities with the aim of enhancing women’s abilities in the regions of project.
This activity were associated withThua Thien Hue Women’s Union within the framework of the project “Enhancing flood resilience in urban and coastal areas in Thua Thien Hue Province” which are implemented by CSRD, Postdam University (Germany), Amsterdam University (Netherland).
Public consultation meeting of mangrove planting plan and place
Centre for Social Research and Development held a public consultation with the aim of introducing the project and the implementing plan of mangrove forests planting in Vinh Tri, Hai Duong, Huong Tra town and Loc Vinh, Phu Loc district – Thua Thien Hue Province.
This meeting also aimed at collecting the contributive ideas of the authorities and the locals so as to build the Regulation of Protection and Development mangrove forests on the basis of society.
The local authorities and the locals in Hai Duong commune reached a consensus of planting 3.25 hectare of sonneratia trees in Vinh Tri village and Loc Vinh and 1.5 hectare of those in Canh Duong village. In the consultation with Women’s Union, the local of Vietnam Fisheries Society, Farmer Association and some other branches also contribute many vital ideas for the project during the proces of forest-planting implementation.
The study results conclude that the new planting site is suitable for planting mangroves thanks to the favorable conditions in terms of natural conditions, views and guidelines for the plan of protective forest development from local authorities and people. The implementation of new plantation training and planting practice will be carried out by CSRD and local authorities in April 2018.
Share the reseach results with students of Geography – Geology Department
On the afternoon of April 7, 2018, Dr. Philip Bubeck, a Researcher and a member of the project entitled “Enhancing flood resilience in urban and coastal areas in Thua Thien Hue Province (or Resilnam), held a meeting to share the research results with the students of Geography – Geology Department, Hue Science University.
The meeting’s content focused on some research related to land usage status, tendency of increasing flood and its damages in Hue City. In addition, the survey results of the ecosystem values conducted by Resilnam project in urban and coastal areas in Thua Thien Hue Province were shared with the students. The results were analyzed and compared from material resources based on different tools and methods of research. This research and many activities were coordinated among Resilnam project, Centre for Social Research and Development (CSRD) and Department of Geography and Geology in Hue Science University.
Centre for Social Research and Development (CSRD) held two training courses related to Sexual Role in Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA).
Most of the first-course members come from Women’s Union of 4 wards in Hue city; and those in the second course are the citizens of 3 communes, namely, Quang Loi, Hai Duong and Loc Vinh – Thua Thien Hue Province.
In addition to enhancing the awareness of EbA, the trainees of Hue city also visited Mung Lake (Thuan Loc district, Hue city), listened to the presentation and learnt about drainage system in the lake areas in the inner of Hue city. Furthermore, they also visited, learnt and listened to the Hai Duong ecosystem introduction. The learners of 3 communes implemented to vistit and enquire the Loc Vinh ecosystem, such as lagoons, systems of Bu Lu and Lach Giang river, specific chestnut forests, dunes, coastal protecting forests,… Much shared knowledge associated with reality visiting and learning have given trainees a lot of practical lessons about ecosystem values; women’s roles, contribution and participation.
Training and visiting course aimed at giving trainees direct and detailed information, function of ecosystem in terms of river, lake and lagoon in Thua Thien Hue Province in flood regulation, local and national policies in terms of disaster risk management and ecosytem protection; and promoting women’s role in DRM.
Moreover, the project is expected to build society-based tourism model, ecosytem-protecting tourism; and connect the locals’ living advantages with communes’ sustainable development.
Raising awareness about roles of women on disaster resilience.
Centre for Social Research and Development (CSRD) organized a training: “Roles of women on Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA)” for nearly 35 members from Women’s Union in province, city, wards, communes in Thua Thien Hue province.
“Ecosystem-based Adaption (EbA) is the process of ecosystem recovery, conservation and management which aim to provide supporting services on climate change adaption”. Women can participate and support on natural disaster prevention and control to reduce the risk of disaster and adapt ecosystem-based.
Roles and contributions of women can be implemented if they are provided knowledge and raising awareness. In addition, men in their family can share the housework so that women can have more time on EbA activities. Besides, local authorities need to create conditions for women to participate in some activities such as community development, natural disaster prevention, climate change adaptation which meet gender need.
End of the course, participants were supplied knowledge. Besides, they also want to learn more about of EbA. CSRD is going to raise awareness of participants by visiting and learning about EbA model.
Centre for Social Research and Development (CSRD) and Women’s Union in Thua Thien Hue province had a meeting to discussed and planned for activities within the framework of the project: “Enhancing flood resilience in urban and coastal areas in Thua Thien Hue province”.
Training course and communication activities on raising awareness are two main activities which implemented by CSRD and Women’s Union. Implementing two training courses for women in four wards in Hue centre areas and three communes in coastal areas in Thua Thien Hue province. Focus on “Roles of women in Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) activities, barriers and bridges on the decision-making of DRM policies ”. In addition, communication activities at 7 local areas are also implemented.
Activities focus on practical knowledge about DRM and EbA for participation such as participate on study tours, learn about local knowledge on project area, participation will share knowledge and experience together. Communication activities will be celebrated by members of Women’s Union which based on their experience to strongly approach and spread.
Activities will be operating in March and April 2018.
Advancing Women’s Leadership in Water Resource Governance
In September 2017, Oxfam and the IUCN held a regional forum in Vientiane, Lao PDR to discuss gender equity and women’s leadership in water governance in the lower Mekong basin. The forum’s participants came up with key opportunities to bridge existing gender gaps in the Mekong region.
“Gender equality is not just about men or women. Gender equality is about both, and built upon mutual understanding.”
Regional Forum on Gender Equity and Women’s Leadership in Transboundary Water Governance in the Lower Mekong Basin
Oxfam Inclusion Project and IUCN BRIDGE programme in collaboration with the Lao Women’s Union and with the support of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), organised a Regional Forum on Gender Equity and Women’s Leadership in Transboundary Water Governance in the Lower Mekong Basin from 13 – 15 September 2017, in Vientiane, Lao PDR.
80 participants (approximately 50 women) from government, civil society organisations, private sector and academia in the Mekong countries attended the three days forum in Vientiane, Lao PDR.
The forum provided spaces for experience sharing and capacity building on gender issues and to create an enabling environment and build partnerships for mainstreaming gender issues in water governance policy and practice.
The three days forum started with an opening reception including a panel discussion, and a performance by a youth group from Lao PDR, highlighting gender issues in water governance. Day 2 of the forum provided spaces for sharing leanings from individual organisations and identified opportunities for mainstreaming gender in water governance in the LMB. Day 3 was dedicated to the identification of the shared vision and concerted actions that Oxfam, IUCN and partners organisations can together undertake in the coming years for better impact.
See more at here: https://issuu.com/csrd7/docs/oxfam_iucn_gender_forum_report_sept
Working with the Community on Disaster Risk Management
CSRD has been working with the community to recognise and develop the role of women in Disaster Risk Management. CSRD coordinated ten discussion groups in December 2017 to collect information about how women assist in Disaster Risk Management,
and what the barriers and opportunities are for decision-making and policy development. The discussions groups were conducted at three communes around the Tam Giang Lagoon (Quang Loi, Hai Duong and Loc Vinh communes) and in Hue City, and were facilitated by Ms Nguyen Thi Phuc Hoa, a consultant with many years of professional experience.
Natural disasters affect everyone, but the impacts on women and men are completely different. Women suffer most from natural disasters but they are also the ones who offer the solutions, knowledge and experience to minimise the risks of natural disasters. Experience shows that they play a major role in disaster risk reduction and that they adapt well to climate change. However, their importance isn’t properly recognised and they are limited in their ability to participate and make decisions in the family and in the wider society. Thanks to the participation of women in this project, disaster management activities in these localities will be more effective and economic losses will be minimized. The project will bring about practical benefits through some positive activities which will enhance the participation of women in professional organisations and all levels of the Women’s Union.
Activities for the project “Improved Flood Resilience in the Coastal Areas, Lagoons and Urban Centres of Thua Thien Hue Province” are coordinated by a partnership between CSRD, Potsdam University (Germany) and Amsterdam University (Netherlands).