Local knowledge amongst farming communities on response to water-induced hazards – Case study in Xuan Thuy National Park

Local knowledge amongst farming communities on response to water-induced hazards – Case study in Xuan Thuy National Park

Local knowledge amongst farming communities on response to water-induced hazards – Case study in Xuan Thuy National Park

13:51 - 15/03/2018

RESEARCH ON THE SCIENTIFIC AND PRACTICAL BASIS TO HARMONISE WATER ALLOCATION WITH WATER TREATMENT FOR IRRIGATION SYSTEMS IN THE RED RIVER DELTA
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Xuan Thuy National Park is located in Giao Thuy district, Nam Dinh province. Xuan Thuy National Park placed in Red River estuary named Ba Lat where all streams run into the sea, which belongs to coastal area in the Red River Basin. The entire Buffer Zone and Core Zone of Xuan Thuy National Park are located on the area of Giao Thien, Giao An, Giao Lac, Giao Xuan and Giao Hai Commune.

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Local knowledge amongst farming communities on response to water-induced hazards – Case study in Xuan Thuy National Park

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2.1. Introduction

Xuan Thuy National Park is located in Giao Thuy district, Nam Dinh province. Xuan Thuy National Park placed in Red River estuary named Ba Lat where all streams run into the sea, which belongs to coastal area in the Red River Basin. The entire Buffer Zone and Core Zone of Xuan Thuy National Park are located on the area of Giao Thien, Giao An, Giao Lac, Giao Xuan and Giao Hai Commune.

Xuan Thuy National Park Subregion Map

Source: MCD, 2007

In this area, local knowledge on responding to climate change has played an active role in the lives of rural communities. I conducted a research to identify the local knowledge amongst farming communities on responding to water induced hazards in Xuan Thuy Natioal Park. This research is developed with a focus on the activities of local male and female farmer in the context of disasters and climate change. Impacts of hazards induced by the water affect women and men differently. To deal with the rising impacts of water induced hazard, local people here apply local knowledge which has many highlighted features consisting of both strength and certain weakness, which is not suitable of current natural environment and society. Therefore, besides the advantages of the system, local people face difficulties in the application.

2.2. Impacts of hazards induced by the water on livelihood of the people in the Buffer Zone

Xuan Thuy National Park lies in the tropical monsoon region; the natural terrain is formed owing to the sedimentation regime in the river estuary.  This place is one of the most vulnerable areas in Vietnam, the Red River Basin. The large alluvial grounds and rivers interspersed created specific scenery to the Park. Water induced hazards through phenomena such as: Rising sea level; Storm, flood and heavy rain; Erosion and Salinity intrusion are causing deep impacts and comprehensively changing the life on this area.

In the process of interview, data collection and discussion with presentation of communities, many comments of communities and related sides about impacts of water induced hazards on the local are totally acknowledged. It is stated by the local residents that salinity penetration, coastal landslide and rising sea level have been more and more affecting their lives. It can be seen that impacts of water induced hazards together with the current pressure caused by social and economic development have been making local communities suffer huge losses. Impacts of water induced hazard, both direct and indirect, have been increasingly affecting the lives of local people. Extreme weather events have been progressively occurring with higher level and frequency compared to the past. The local communities are vulnerable subjects not only because they live at the boundary between the mainland and the sea, but also due to the livelihoods crucially depending on the nature. 

2.3. Analyzing strength, weakness, opportunities and threads of application local knowledge for dealing with water induced hazard

While facing dramatic impacts of water induced hazard, local communities with their own knowledge and long-standing cultivation tradition brought forwards many ways to cope with disaster for their own livelihoods. More or less, every profession is affected by disasters caused by the water. Many local people in the Buffer Zone communes of Xuan Thuy National Park decided to deal with the rising impacts of water induced hazard by applying local knowledge such as: Disaster forecast; Planting mangrove forest to prevent soil erosion; Adapting houses, settlements to cope with storm, flood and Adaptations in livelihood. These methods have many highlight features consisting of both strength and certain weakness which is not suitable current natural environment and society. Therefore, beside advantages of the system, local people face difficulties in application. The following table analyzes strength, weakness, opportunities and threats for application local knowledge for dealing with water induced hazard.

Analyzing SWOT of application local knowledge

Strengthen

Weakness

- Be suitable for local characteristics

- Less costly

- Tested over time

- Be easy to apply and find materials from nature.

- Depend on nature

- Be low efficiency, people deal with disasters passively

- Primitive means of production

- Lack of technical and science in agricultural production and aquaculture.

- Self - protection methods in agricultural production by disasters and epidemic are not effective

- Gender inequality

Opportunities

Threads

-     The support of authority

-     International and national non-government organizations carry out researches to help local people.

-     A lot of complex natural disaster

-     Exhausted natural resources

-     Polluted environment  

Source: Group discussion (2016)

At the surveyed region, women and men have their own skills and knowledge which are fairly different. The difference is essential to recognize how the gender distinction affects the structure of social system. Men mainly focus on the work that requires strength. Women, due to the characteristics of being hardworking and weaker than men, normally are in charge of the work requiring perseverance. The research results showed that men are primarily responsible for the aquaculture. Especially, the stages considered critical in aquaculture processes are performed by men. Gender relations reflex in the frequency/ level of participation and decision-making between men and women relating aquaculture activities, which also reflex the dominance of men/ supremacy of men over women, in particular decisions in production techniques. Meanwhile, women play a major role in farming, doing housework and taking care of children. Both men and women are engaged in work to seek livelihood diversification for the whole household. Women also participate the production activities, create values but not traditional role only in home making and family care. However, women are still at disadvantage compared with men through the work tasks. They participate not only in the production processes but also taking care of family this make women lack of time to rest and take care of themselves. This is a common practice in rural areas in Vietnam.

Above analysis indicated that application local knowledge for deal with water induced hazard is still restrictive. Many scientists, governments, indigenous people agreed that many development models only base on custom, social spirit activities while dependence on ecological fails. Therefore, it is vital to combine local knowledge and modern knowledge. (Studley, 1998). Therefore, to gain sustainable agriculture and forestry development, it is significant to combine local knowledge and modern knowledge in agricultural and forestry extension agencies. Facing impacts of climate change and rising sea level, coastal residents in general and Giao Thuy region in particular have three basic options: protection, withdrawing, adaptation. Protection method means building up dykes; withdrawing method means changing location of houses or factories or demarcating boundaries of undeveloped areas; adaptation means setting up strong rules or reinforcing alarm system. Further, there is a multidimensional linkage between gender and local knowledge. Local knowledge defined that men and women play different roles in resources exploitation and usage as well as difficulty settlement. These differences are primarily caused by the existing gender inequalities constrain. Hence, the empowerment of women is a critical ingredient in building disaster resilience (UN, 2015).

2.4. Conclusions and recommendations

According to the results of the analysis of the local knowledge of famers community surrounding buffer zone of Xuan Thuy National Park, local residents still lack many essential skills to respond to water induced hazards. The local people only carry out processes based on their experiences, which heavily depend on natural sources, but lack the knowledge on modern and advanced techniques as well as capability to promote the advantages of the living areas. Local knowledge is an essential element of local adaptive capacity. This one is always a considerable resource, which needs to be studied further to release policies combining with indigenous and modern knowledge for the purpose of enabling local people to maximize their strengths. The method, which local people use, must be closely attached to sustainable development. Local knowledge defined that men and women play different roles in building disaster resilience. It is necessary to simultaneously address the interconnected challenges of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction by improving local knowledge.

The natural and social systems both are complex and diverse and farmer communities are highly adaptable to exist with the systems. Therefore, when policy-planners access to the local people, they should respect for the local knowledge and adopt the policies to promote the advantages. Policies for prioritizing investment, encouraging local residents to participate in the natural resource management and conservation, strengthen their capacity of responding to climate change are the key to sustainable management and development. For making effective policies mentioned above, it is essential to apply the research findings on the local knowledge system in rural projects, thus attracting and encouraging local residents to attend.

Due to time and budget limitations, the research collected and analyzed only some local knowledge in coping with climate change. Meanwhile, local knowledge systems include knowledge of the protection, development and use of natural resources and indigenous techniques in agricultural production. Therefore, further studies should be done to enrich resource to serve the rural development comprehensively and sustainably. It is necessary to extend the space for research activities and research objects to human ecology zones for obtaining the agricultural development strategies at Red River delta in the future. 

2.5. Bibliography

  1. MCD (2007), Community-based Adaptation in the coastal zone - A view and case study from the Centre for Marinelife Conservation and Community Development
  2. Studley,J. (1998), Dominant knowledge systems and local knowledge < http://www.mtnforum.org/sites/default/files/publication/files/126.pdf>
  3. UN (2015), Gender Responsive Disaster Risk Reduction, a contribution by the United Nations to the consultation leading to the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, Sendai, Japan. <http://www.preventionweb.net/files/40425_gender.pdf>