A needs assessment on sustainable livelihoods responding to climate change in Hoa Binh, Thai Nguyen, Yen Bai and Quang Ninh provinces



Climate change is exacerbating many of the challenges that poor communities in the northern highlands of Vietnam already face, and presents a serious risk to poverty reduction efforts. The large majority of the population of this region base their livelihoods on agriculture, forestry and aquaculture, meaing they are heavily dependent on natural resources. It also means their livelihoods are very vulnerable to both long-term environmental degradation and sudden natural disasters, including related to the impacts of climate change. 

Local people have reported increasing water shortages, more extreme and unpredictable weather events, shorter but heavier periods of rain responsible for causing more damage such as from landslides. Another critical issue for farmers is the increasing spread of pests and diseases in crops, which they attribute to changing weather conditions, but may also be linked to other factors such as the introduction of hybrid varieties and mono-cropping, and the misuse of chemical pesticides. 
All these impacts pose risks to lives and livelihoods, especially in areas where socio-economic conditions are already low and people are heavily dependent on the environment and natural resources.

This project takes a sustainable livelihoods approach, analysing how resources are mobilised to meet basic needs and generate income, and exploring opportunities to diversify local products and improve producers’ status in the value chain, as well as undertaking pro-poor advocacy. The assessment combines climate change adaptation and sustainable livelihoods to reduce poverty and vunerability. the main aim of the project is therefore to assess the problems and needs of local people in obtaining sustainable livelihoods that can respond, by adaptation and mitigation measures, to climate change. 

The key outputs of the project were:

1. Four reports, one for each province, synthesising the findings on how climate change is affecting local communities, what their particular vulnerabilities and opportunities are, what measures they are already adopting to cope with these impacts, and what would enable them to develop more sustainable livelihoods in the face of climate change. The reports focus on four key interlinked themes: climate change; irrigation, water supply and sanitation; land and livelihoods; value chains and access to markets. 

2. A proposal, based on the findings and more in-depth follow-up visits to the selected project sites in Da Bac and Vo Nhai districts, was designed for a project that will support vulnerable rural communities in Hoa Binh and Thai Nguyen provinces to develop livelihoods that are more sustainable in the context of climate change, with key adaptation and mitigation approaches including: livelihood diversification, improving access to water resources, promoting sustainable agricultural techniques, reducing environmental degradation, ensuring that forests are managed sustainably, and improving access to markets.