How GIZ is supporting climate change adaptation in Viet Nam with mangroves and rice
Extreme weather, storms and rising sea levels – climate change is already directly affecting many countries. One of them is Viet Nam: With 3,400 kilometres of coastline, the Asian nation is increasingly subject to extreme weather – especially the Mekong Delta, which provides rice to around 245 million people around the world and is known as ‘Asia’s rice bowl’. However, once the low fields become inundated with seawater because of floods or storms, they cannot be used for years. The resulting harvest losses pose a threat to the livelihoods of the 17 million people living in the Mekong region.

Strong roots for coastal protection

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is supporting five Mekong provinces in better protecting themselves against the rising sea levels and extreme weather events. One example of this protection is planting mangrove forests: Mangrove roots descend deep into the mud, binding together the soil and earth. These natural breakwaters had nearly disappeared completely from Viet Nam – the trees were used as firewood or sold. In cooperation with the coastal population, over 600 hectares – corresponding to an area of 840 football pitches – have been restored so far in only four years. This has made it possible to move the coastline back into the ocean by up to 180 metres, which makes the land more resistant to storms and flooding.

New varieties and sustainable rice cultivation

Climate change is also threatening the delta’s agricultural production. Floods, changes in precipitation patterns and droughts are making the soil increasingly salty. Rice farmers therefore require rice varieties that are more tolerant to salt and floods while growing quickly to reduce the risk of crop failures. GIZ advises the farmers on introducing new and long-forgotten varieties – and has already trained 3,000 farmers in sustainable cultivation techniques. Thanks to this support, the rice farmers have been able to increase their income by an average of 40 per cent.

GIZ’s expert, Silke Bommersheim, will be available for a telephone interview in the weeks from November 26 to 30 and December 3 to 7. If you are interested, please contact the GIZ Press Office.