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Title: Evaluating sustainable adaptation strategies for vulnerable mega-deltas using system dynamics modelling: rice agriculture in the Mekong Delta's An Giang Province, Vietnam.
Authors: Chapman, Alex
Darby, Stephen
Keywords: Adaptation
Mekong Delta
System dynamics
Issue Date: Jul-2016
Series/Report no.: Science of the Total Environment;Volume 15, Issue 559, Page 326-338
Abstract: Challenging dynamics are unfolding in social-ecological systems around the globe as society attempts to mitigate and adapt to climate change while sustaining rapid local development. The IPCC's 5th assessment suggests these changing systems are susceptible to unforeseen and dangerous ‘emergent risks’. An archetypal example is the Vietnamese Mekong Delta (VMD) where the river dyke network has been heightened and extended over the last decade with the dual objectives of (1) adapting the delta's 18 million inhabitants and their livelihoods to increasingly intense river-flooding, and (2) developing rice production through a shift from double to triple-cropping. Negative impacts have been associated with this shift, particularly in relation to its exclusion of fluvial sediment deposition from the floodplain. A deficit in our understanding of the dynamics of the rice-sediment system, which involve unintuitive delays, feedbacks, and tipping points, is addressed here, using a system dynamics (SD) approach to inform sustainable adaptation strategies. Specifically, we develop and test a new SD model which simulates the dynamics between the farmers' economic system and their rice agriculture operations, and uniquely, integrates the role of fluvial sediment deposition within their dyke compartment. We use the model to explore a range of alternative rice cultivation strategies. Our results suggest that the current dominant strategy (triple-cropping) is only optimal for wealthier groups within society and over the short-term (ca. 10 years post-implementation). The model suggests that the policy of opening sluice gates and leaving paddies fallow during high-flood years, in order to encourage natural sediment deposition and the nutrient replenishment it supplies, is both a more equitable and a more sustainable policy. But, even with this approach, diminished supplies of sediment-bound nutrients and the consequent need to compensate with artificial fertilisers will mean that smaller-scale farmers in the VMD are more vulnerable to accruing debt.
Appears in Collections:Agriculture and rural development

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