Enhancing resilience in the Mekong Delta

Enhancing resilience of communities and ecosystems in the Mekong Delta for secure livelihoods and improved conservation

Success factors
  • Abandonment of harmful management practices in a protected area
  • Support in the development of alternative livelihood options, better adapted to climate change impacts
  • Working with government agencies for improving an existing, but poorly implemented area-based conservation policy to make it work
aa Chick U Minh Thuong bird colony

© GIZ Viet Nam

The Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve in the southwestern Mekong Delta is rich in biodiversity, while providing key ecosystem functions. To keep these values intact, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), in partnership with the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), has been supporting the Vietnamese government in managing the reserve since 2008.

Most people in the Mekong delta live in low-lying areas, making them vulnerable to climate change impacts such as rising sea level and increased frequency and intensity of typhoons, storms and floods.

Various approaches have proven successful in preparing the nature and people of Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve for climate change:

In U Minh Thuong National Park, large areas of precious habitat had been lost, following the artificial flooding of the park, which had been implemented after a severe wildfire in the park. By developing an improved water management and fire prevention system, which relied on the re-opening of the channels that surround and penetrate the park, the harmful effects could be reversed, resulting in a substantial recovery of habitat and bird populations depending on it. This measure was combined with capacity building activities for parks staff to improve fire monitoring and prevention. Coastal peat lands as found in U Minh Thuong NP are also important carbon sinks, so their effective protection ensures permanent storage of these carbon stocks.

fish women livelihood

© GIZ Viet Nam

In the buffer zone of the park, for many poor households, climate change puts food security at stake, with sea level rise and flooding threatening cultivation. With government support, GIZ is helping local people to culture the Sac Ran fish, a locally endemic species that is easy to raise and highly productive. Support has also been offered for branding and processing of the fish and for improved access to bank loans to help farmers setting up fish culture.

At another level, the project is developing policy recommendations, focusing on the so-called “7:3 policy”. This policy demonstrates Kien Giang province’s strong political will and pioneering role in conserving its coastal habitats: it entitles local people to long-term interest in contracted land, providing legal security, and in turn requesting certificate holders to protect 70% of their parcels as mangroves, while encouraging limited economic development on the remaining 30% of the area. While this regulation could ensure the combination of economic activity with effective, area-based mangrove conservation, it has never been reviewed and revised to ensure its economic viability and efficiency, resulting in poor implementation.  GIZ is now developing guidance for the Department of Agriculture for alterations of the “7:3 policy” to improve its implementation, with the goal of potentially up-scaling “7:3” to national level.

Read more

Factsheet: Preparing for Climate Change

Project website