Environmental Management

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 331–345 | Cite as

Farmers’ Perceived Risks of Climate Change and Influencing Factors: A Study in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

  • Hoa Le Dang
  • Elton Li
  • Ian Nuberg
  • Johan Bruwer


Many countries are confronting climate change that threatens agricultural production and farmers’ lives. Farmers’ perceived risks of climate change and factors influencing those perceived risks are critical to their adaptive behavior and well-planned adaptation strategies. However, there is limited understanding of these issues. In this paper, we attempt to quantitatively measure farmers’ perceived risks of climate change and explore the influences of risk experience, information, belief in climate change, and trust in public adaptation to those perceived risks. Data are from structured interviews with 598 farmers in the Mekong Delta. The study shows that perceived risks to production, physical health, and income dimensions receive greater priority while farmers pay less attention to risks to happiness and social relationships. Experiences of the events that can be attributed to climate change increase farmers’ perceived risks. Information variables can increase or decrease perceived risks, depending on the sources of information. Farmers who believe that climate change is actually happening and influencing their family’s lives, perceive higher risks in most dimensions. Farmers who think that climate change is not their concern but the government’s, perceive lower risks to physical health, finance, and production. As to trust in public adaptation, farmers who believe that public adaptive measures are well co-ordinated, perceive lower risks to production and psychology. Interestingly, those who believe that the disaster warning system is working well, perceive higher risks to finance, production, and social relationships. Further attention is suggested for the quality, timing, and channels of information about climate change and adaptation.


Belief in climate change Climate change Information Perceived risk Risk experience Trust in public adaptation 



This paper is part of a PhD research at the University of Adelaide. This PhD research is made possible under the sponsor of AusAID to Hoa Le Dang. Data collection for the research is funded by the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, the University of Adelaide. We are very grateful to the Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development of 6 districts: Long Phu and My Tu (Soc Trang Province), Thap Muoi and Tam Nong (Dong Thap Province), and Duc Hoa and Thanh Hoa (Long An Province) for their great help and support in organising farmer interviews. We would like to thank 20 undergraduate students of Nong Lam University, local guides and farm households in the Mekong Delta in helping and supporting our interviews during December 2011 and January 2012. We thank Alison-Jane Hunter for editing the manuscript and anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions.


  1. Adger WN (1999) Social vulnerability to climate change and extremes in coastal Vietnam. World Dev 27(2):249–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adger WN, Dessai S, Goulden M, Hulme M, Lorenzoni I, Nelson DR, Naess LO, Wolf J, Wreford A (2009) Are there social limits to adaptation to climate change? Clim Change 93(3):335–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen P, Bennett K (2010) PASW statistics by SPSS: A practical guide version 18.0. Cengage Learning Australia, London, UKGoogle Scholar
  4. Apata TG, Samuel KD, Adeola AO (2009) Analysis of Climate Change Perception and Adaptation among Arable Food Crop Farmers in South Western Nigeria. Paper presented at the International Association of Agricultural Economists’ 2009 Conference, Beijing, China, 16-22 August 2009Google Scholar
  5. Barnett J (2001) Adapting to climate change in Pacific Island Countries: the problem of uncertainty. World Dev 29(6):977–993CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bauer RA (1960) Consumer behavior as risk taking. In: Hancock RS (ed) Dynamic marketing for a changing world. Proceedings of the 43rd National Conference of the American Marketing Association. American Marketing Association, Chicago, pp 389–398Google Scholar
  7. Be TT, Dung LC, Brennan D (1999) Environmental costs of shrimp culture in the rice-growing regions of the Mekong Delta. Aquacult Econ Manage 3(1):31–42Google Scholar
  8. Below TB, Mutabazi KD, Kirschke D, Franke C, Sieber S, Siebert R, Tscherning K (2012) Can farmers’ adaptation to climate change be explained by socio-economic household-level variables? Glob Environ Change 22(1):223–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Blennow K, Persson J (2009) Climate change: motivation for taking measure to adapt. Glob Environ Change 19(1):100–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bryant CR, Smit B, Brklacich M, Johnston TR, Smithers J, Chiotti Q, Singh B (2000) Adaptation in Canadian agriculture to climatic variability and change. Clim Change 45(1):181–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dang LH, Li E, Bruwer J (2012) Understanding climate change adaptive behavior of farmers: an integrated conceptual framework. Int J Clim Change 3(2):255–272Google Scholar
  12. Dang LH, Li E, Bruwer J, Nuberg I (2014a) Farmers’ perceptions of climate variability and barriers to adaptation: lessons learned from an exploratory study in Vietnam. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change 19(5):531–548Google Scholar
  13. Dang LH, Li E, Nuberg I, Bruwer J (2014b) Farmers’ assessments of private adaptive measures to climate change and influential factors: a study in the Mekong Delta Vietnam. Nat Hazards 71(1):385–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Deressa TT, Hassan RM, Ringler C (2011) Perception of and adaptation to climate change by farmers in the Nile basin of Ethiopia. J Agr Sci 149(1):23–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Diggs DM (1991) Drought experience and perception of climatic change among Great Plains farmers. Gt Plains Res 1(1):113–132Google Scholar
  16. Dowling GR (1985) The Effectiveness of Advertising Explicit Warranties. J Public Policy Mark 4:142–152Google Scholar
  17. Dowling GR (1986) Perceived risk: the concept and its measurement. Psychol Market 3(3):193–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dun O (2011) Migration and displacement triggered by floods in the Mekong Delta. Int Migr 49(s1):e200–e223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Few R, Tran PG (2010) Climatic hazards, health risk and response in Vietnam: case studies on social dimensions of vulnerability. Glob Environ Change 20(3):529–538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Floyd DL, Prentice-Dunn S, Rogers RW (2000) A meta-analysis of research on protection motivation theory. J Appl Soc Psychol 30(2):407–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gbetibouo GA (2009) Understanding farmers’ perceptions and adaptations to climate change and variability: The case of the Limpopo Basin, South Africa. In: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Discussion paper 00849. Accessed 8 Sept 2010
  22. General Statistics Office of Vietnam (GSO) (2010a) Statistical Yearbook of Vietnam 2009. Statistical Publishing House, HanoiGoogle Scholar
  23. General Statistics Office of Vietnam (GSO) (2010b) The 2009 Vietnam Population and Housing Census. Statistical Publishing House, HanoiGoogle Scholar
  24. Grothmann T, Patt A (2005) Adaptive capacity and human cognition: the process of individual adaptation to climate change. Glob Environ Change 15(3):199–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Grothmann T, Reusswig F (2006) People at risk of flooding: why some residents take precautionary action while others do not. Nat Hazards 38(1):101–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Haden VR, Niles MT, Lubell M, Perlman J, Jackson LE (2012) Global and local concerns: what attitudes and beliefs motivate farmers to mitigate and adapt to climate change? PLoS ONE 7(12):e52882CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hair JFJ, Black WC, Babin BJ, Anderson RE (2010) Multivariate data analysis. Prentice Hall, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  28. Heath Y, Gifford R (2006) Free-market ideology and environmental degradation. Environ Behav 38(1):48–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2001) IPCC Third Assessment Report: Climate Change 2001. Assessed 20 Apr 2011
  30. IPCC (2007) IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007. Assessed 20 Apr 2011
  31. Kantola SJ, Syme GJ, Nesdale AR (1983) The effects of appraised severity and efficacy in promoting water conservation: an informational analysis. J Appl Soc Psychol 13(2):164–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kasperson RE, Renn O, Slovic P, Brown HS, Emel J, Goble R, Kasperson JX, Ratick S (1988) The social amplification of risk: a conceptual framework. Risk Anal 8(2):177–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Maddison D (2007) The perception of and adaptation to climate change in Africa. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4308Google Scholar
  34. Maddux JE (1993) Social cognitive models of health and exercise behavior: an introduction and review of conceptual issues. J Appl Sport Psychol 5(2):116–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Maddux JE, Rogers RW (1983) Protection motivation and self-efficacy: a revised theory of fear appeals and attitude change. J Exp Soc Psychol 19(5):469–479CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mendelsohn R, Dinar A (1999) Climate change, agriculture, and developing countries: does adaptation matter? World Bank Res Obs 14(2):277–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mertz O, Mbow C, Reenberg A, Diouf A (2009) Farmers’ perceptions of climate change and agricultural adaptation strategies in rural Sahel. Environ Manag 43(5):804–816CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Milne S, Sheeran P, Orbell S (2000) Prediction and Intervention in Health Related Behavior: a Meta analytic Review of Protection Motivation Theory. J Appl Soc Psychol 30(1):106–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) (2009) Climate change, sea level rise scenarios for Vietnam. MONRE, Vietnam. Accessed 8 Aug 2013
  40. Mulilis JP, Lippa R (1990) Behavioural change in earthquake preparedness due to negative threat appeals: a test of protection motivation theory. J Appl Soc Psychol 20(8):619–638CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Nhan DK, Trung NH, Sanh NV (2011) The impact of weather variability on rice and aquaculture production in the Mekong Delta. in Stewart MA, Coclanis PA (eds.) Environmental Change and Agricultural Sustainability in the Mekong Delta. Springer, pp. 437–451Google Scholar
  42. Norris FH, Smith T, Kaniasty K (1999) Revisiting the experience–behavior hypothesis: the effects of hurricane Hugo on hazard preparedness and other self-protective acts. Basic Appl Soc Psych 21(1):37–47Google Scholar
  43. O’brien RM (2007) A caution regarding rules of thumb for variance inflation factors. Qual Quant 41:673–690CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Osberghaus D, Finkel E, Pohl M (2010) Individual Adaptation to Climate Change: The Role of Information and Perceived Risk. Discussion Paper No. 10-061, Centre for European Economic ResearchGoogle Scholar
  45. Peter JP, Ryan MJ (1976) An investigation of perceived risk at the brand level. J Marketing Res 13(2):184–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Reimer AP, Thompson AW, Prokopy LS (2012) The multi-dimensional nature of environmental attitudes among farmers in Indiana: implications for conservation adoption. Agric Hum Values 29(1):29–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Renn O, Burns WJ, Kasperson JX, Kasperson RE, Slovic P (1992) The social amplification of risk: theoretical foundations and empirical applications. J Soc Issues 48(4):137–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rogers RW (1975) A protection motivation theory of fear appeals and attitude change. J Psychol 91(1):93–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schad I, Schmitter P, Saint-Macary C, Neef A, Lamers M, Nguyen L, Hilger T, Hoffmann V (2012) Why do people not learn from flood disasters? Evidence from Vietnam’s northwestern mountains. Nat Hazards 62(2):221–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Slovic P, Fischhoff B, Lichtenstein S (1982) Why study risk perception? Risk Anal 2(2):83–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Smit B, McNabb D, Smithers J (1996) Agricultural adaptation to climatic variation. Clim Change 33(1):7–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Smit B, Burton I, Klein RJT, Wandel J (2000) An anatomy of adaptation to climate change and variability. Clim Change 45(1):223–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Spence A, Poortinga W, Butler C, Pidgeon NF (2011) Perceptions of climate change and willingness to save energy related to flood experience. Nature Clim Change 1(1):46–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Taylor JG, Stewart TR, Downton M (1988) Perceptions of drought in the Ogallala Aquifer region. Environ Behav 20(2):150–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Thomas DSG, Twyman C, Osbahr H, Hewitson B (2007) Adaptation to climate change and variability: farmer responses to intra-seasonal precipitation trends in South Africa. Clim Change 83(3):301–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. United Nations Office for the Coordination Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) (1997), Vietnam Typhoon Linda Situation Report No.4. Accessed 9 Aug 2013
  57. Vedwan N (2006) Culture, climate and the environment: local knowledge and perception of climate change among apple growers in Northwestern India. J Ecol Anthropol 10(1):4–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Vedwan N, Rhoades RE (2001) Climate change in the Western Himalayas of India: a study of local perception and response. Clim Res 19(2):109–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Weinstein ND (1989) Effects of personal experience on self-protective behavior. Psychol Bull 105(1):31–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Whitmarsh L (2008) Are flood victims more concerned about climate change than other people? The role of direct experience in risk perception and behavioural response. J Risk Res 11(3):351–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wolf S, Gregory WL, Stephan WG (1986) Protection motivation theory: prediction of intentions to engage in anti-nuclear war behaviors. J Appl Soc Psychol 16(4):310–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wood SA, Jina AS, Jain M, Kristjanson P, DeFries RS (2014) Smallholder farmer cropping decisions related to climate variability across multiple regions. Glob Environ Change. In pressGoogle Scholar
  63. Yusuf AA, Francisco H (2010) Hotspots! Mapping climate change vulnerability in Southeast Asia. In: Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia. Accessed 5 May 2011
  64. Ziervogel G, Taylor A (2011) Integrating climate change information within development and disaster management planning: Lessons from Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. In: Fujikura R, Kawanishi M (eds) Climate change adaptation and international development: making development cooperation more effective. Earthscan, London, pp 129–151Google Scholar
  65. Zikmund WG, Babin BJ (2010) Exploring marketing research. Cengage Learning, CanadaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hoa Le Dang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Elton Li
    • 1
  • Ian Nuberg
    • 1
  • Johan Bruwer
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Agriculture, Food and WineThe University of AdelaideUrrbraeAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of EconomicsNong Lam UniversityHo Chi Minh CityVietnam
  3. 3.School of MarketingUniversity of South AustraliaNorth TerraceAustralia
  4. 4.School of PsychologyCharles Sturt UniversityWagga WaggaAustralia

Personalised recommendations