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Vulnerability to Environmental Stress

Household Livelihoods, Assets and Mobility in the Mekong Delta, Viet Nam

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This study explores vulnerability and household response measures in the contexts of environmental stress in the Mekong Delta of Viet Nam. Displacement estimates are often based on broad assumptions derived from macro-scale geographical data, viewing individuals’ vulnerability to hazards through the lens of their physical proximity to hazard-prone areas. Given that household assets shape responses to opportunities and threats, this report examines key household assets which determine the household vulnerability, livelihood outcomes and those critical for mobility decision-making in the face of environmental change. The report also provides analysis of government relocation programmes targeting households susceptible to hazards and draws attention to the most asset-poor, who are often trapped and the least able to both adapt to stressors in- situ, or migrate elsewhere.

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Introduction

The topic of global environmental change (GEC) is receiving increasing attention from a range of stakeholders. Its effects are already far-reaching, and it is estimated a wide gamut of sectors will be strained, such as those involving water resources, food security and health. Given that the broader social, economic and political systems we live in shape our access to resources, the impacts of GEC will inevitably be unevenly distributed among population groups (McDonald, 2010). Nevertheless, much uncertainty remains regarding how these effects will manifest at the local level (Oliver-Smith, 2009).

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