Dynamic Resilience of Peri-Urban Agriculturalists in the Mekong Delta Under Pressures of Socio-Economic Transformation and Climate Change

  • Matthias Garschagen
  • Fabrice G. Renaud
  • Jörn Birkmann
Part of the Advances in Global Change Research book series (AGLO, volume 45)


Globally and in Vietnam, coupled social-ecological systems in the peri-urban fringes are amongst the most dynamic as well as strained systems as they are at the same time drivers and results of comprehensive transformation processes. Based on a literature and policy review, we argue that – globally and especially in Vietnam – there is a neglect of the specific needs and challenges faced by popu­lations in the peri-urban interface. At the same time, the chapter suggests that, in the Mekong Delta in particular, agriculture-based population groups in the ­peri-urban areas are at risk of being negatively affected by overlapping trends of (a) socio-economic transformation (including, e.g. liberalisation or urbanisation), (b) biophysical degradation (including, e.g. pesticide residues in water bodies) and (c) climate change impacts. This hypothesis is tested based on empirical research in one of the most rapidly urbanising districts in the Mekong Delta, that is, Cai Rang District in the peri-urban fringe of Can Tho City. We find that formerly agriculture-based population groups in this district are facing substantial decreases in resilience due in particular to the effects of expropriation, relocation and inadequate compensation schemes. In addition, the population of the district will experience changes in water-related pollution patterns as sources of contaminants are likely to shift from mainly agrichemicals pollution to microbiological contaminations and pollution from other ‘new’ pollutants such as endocrine disruptors, all linked to changes in land use patterns and industrialisation. On top of this, climate change is in the future likely to imply increasing difficulties for those groups which – in view of the already deteriorated baseline resilience – pose substantial risks of tipping into a crisis situation due to a lack of resources and options for adaptation and coping. This can be true for single households, extended family networks or entire groups (e.g. populations in specific relocation clusters). Yet, the chapter argues that resilience effects may not be understood in a functionalistic or deterministic manner, meaning that entire systems per se will inevitably move along a given resilience trajectory. Rather, a review of overlaying trends in Vietnam as well as empirical case study analysis shows that resilience pathways are highly dynamic and depend on small-scale factors setting the directions. Resilience, therefore, can be differentiated between households or individuals. Acknowledging the importance of those small directive elements within resilience pathways opens up opportunities for resilience management and governance.


Resilience Peri-urban interface Agriculture Transformation Climate change Vietnam 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthias Garschagen
    • 1
  • Fabrice G. Renaud
    • 1
  • Jörn Birkmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)WISDOM Project, United Nations UniversityBonnGermany

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