No longer rice bowl of Asia ?

I was born and raised in Mekong in Vietnam, one of the world's most vulnerable areas for climate change. My father and my relatives are rice farmers. Things have changed. 

Mekong has always been the "rice bowl in Asia" and we have exported rice to many countries. Over the past couple of years, rice crops have been scaled down.

Climate change has reached us with full strength. The weather has become a major factor of uncertainty, and both drought and flooding do damage. People no longer know how to respond[PTHT1] . According to climate experts, we can get up to 50% reduction of rice production at the middle of 21st century due to hotter temperature, abnormal rain and more frequent disasters. People will lose a lot of their income. This is disastrous for poor people who are already vulnerable. Water level Mekong Delta is going down and it means that 50% of the area will lack fresh water for agriculture irrigation.

Climate change affects everyone, but those who already have the least are the most vulnerable in this situation. A lot of the traditional farming is no longer works. People must adapt to a new situation and new methods must be tested. The biggest challenges are the combination of drought, saltwater intrusion and fresh water shortage. Large agricultural areas become barren because the soil is simply too salty.

Mission Alliance helps in several areas. We contribute with professional advice and help so that poor people can grow more climate robust: Vegetables that tolerate salt, species that tolerate drought better and climate smart agriculture combined with animal husbandry. In addition, we provide loans so that people can acquire new sources of income in addition to agriculture, fish and animal husbandry.

No longer rice bowl of Asia ?

I have worked with development work throughout my adult life. I am motivated by working closely with people and seeing the results of our work. It is important to focus on practical solutions and participatory processes, and to work side by side with the most vulnerable. This is how we have helped many already, and we can continue to help poor people face climate change in the future.

By Phan Tran Hong Tham, province manager Tra Vinh 

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