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Coping with climate change in the Mekong Delta

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AusAID support for a multi-country Red Cross project team is helping vulnerable families in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region build resilience to climate change.

The Australian, German and Vietnam Red Cross Societies team, backed by AusAID’s Community-based Climate Change Action Grants Program, equips communities with strategies to prepare for disasters and reduce their vulnerability to changing climatic conditions.

Mrs Nguyen Thi Chuong is a single parent in the Van Giao commune in Vietnam. She supports her family selling household goods from her roadside home. Vulnerable families like Chuong’s are disproportionately affected by the increased frequency and intensity of flooding in the Mekong Delta. She remembers the floods of 2011.

‘In the floods a lot of people died. Boats also sank with people on board. Our supplies were cut and we could not find any source of food to eat,’ Chuong said.

When the floods reached Van Tra hamlet, the local community was unable to work and crops were destroyed. Chuong’s small business was also affected.

‘In recent years the rainy season is longer and the dry season is more hot and we have had more storms,’ she said.

When asked if she has heard of climate change, she shakes her head.

In January 2013, the Red Cross project team conducted a baseline survey to measure community preparedness and adaptation measures. The survey of 525 households found that only 43 per cent of respondents have heard about climate change. Men were three times more likely to have heard of climate change than women.

The survey also found less than a quarter of respondents had received information from commune or village officials about disaster plans, and only 28 per cent had information from them about safety measures in the flood season.

AusAID’s Community-based Climate Change Action Grants Program is supporting Australian and international non-government organisations (NGOs) and the Red Cross to work with local partners in the Pacific and South-East Asia to deal with climate change and meet development needs at the community level.

Ten NGOs have secured grant funding under the program for projects in Vietnam, East Timor, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Tonga and Fiji.

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