The resilience concept has provided a new insight and approach to the conventional perspective of agricultural management by emphasizing the need to maintain a diversity of future options to adapt to inevitable and often unpredictable changes. The concept has been taken up by various academic disciplines and development sectors, yet ways to define and operationalize resilience as a measurable concept are still being developed. We contributed to this ongoing effort by implementing a subjective resilience assessment method based on farmers’ perceptions of three resilience components: (1) the sensitivity of their agricultural systems to increased salinity intrusion, (2) the capacity to recover from salinity damage, and (3) the capacity to change to other systems if salinity increases in the future. We conducted 27 in-depth interviews with local and national authorities, 11 focus group discussions, and 118 semistructured and 219 structured interviews with farmers in case study villages located along salinity transects in the Mekong Delta and at different distances to sea dikes in the Red River Delta in Vietnam in 2015-2016. Results from the subjective resilience assessment reveal that none of the agricultural systems studied systematically scored higher than the other systems on all three resilience components, implying that an increase in one resilience component by switching agricultural systems would negatively affect others. Agricultural responses to this salinity problem will influence current and long-term adaptability of the systems to future changes in salinity intrusion and other social-ecological developments in the deltas. Improving resilience components, e.g., through policies and interventions, resource allocation, and farming system changes, to sustain agricultural production or facilitate transformation to alternative systems when necessary is critically important for agricultural systems facing stress. Complementing subjective resilience assessments with qualitative data is thus crucial for understanding the drivers of resilience to improve components of resilience for agricultural systems in the respective deltas.

Download file: EN

Organization: UNU-EHS

Theme: Other

Topics: Agriculture and Food, Environment, COP25 List of UN Publications

Type of material: Other

Publication date: 2019

Language: English