Renaud, F. G. and Kuenzer, C. (2012) Introduction. In: Renaud, F. G. and Kuenzer, C. (eds.) The Mekong Delta System: Interdisciplinary Analyses of a River Delta. Series: Springer environmental science and engineering. Springer: Dordrecht, pp. 3-5. ISBN 9789400739611 (doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-3962-8_1)

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The Mekong Delta in Vietnam (also known as the Cuu Long or “nine dragons”) covers an area of 39,000 km2 and is home to more than 17 million inhabitants. The region is familiarly known as the “rice bowl” of the country. Yet, although it is the principal rice-producing region in Vietnam, agricultural outputs go beyond rice production alone as the delta is also a main producer of fruits and vegetables as well as of aquaculture products. Economically, the delta is therefore very important for the country as a whole, however the region remains one of the poorest when compared to other regions in Vietnam. Despite the rapid economic growth of Vietnam in recent years and important improvements in agricultural systems in the region, many farmers in the delta have to deal with low profitability and high economic and environmental risks forcing them into insecure livelihoods. Key to the further development of the delta and to addressing part of the development barriers in the region is the management of the principal natural resource in the region: water. As for any delta, water plays a crucial role in shaping social-ecological systems in the Mekong Delta particularly for communities who depend on delta water resources directly for their livelihoods and daily subsistence. Water can also be directly and indirectly a threat to these livelihoods as, for example, large portions of the delta are flooded annually and although people have adapted to this flooding cycle, extreme floods (such as in 2000 and to a lesser extent in 2011) can be extremely destructive. For decades now, national-level initiatives have shaped the delta to increase agricultural production with initiatives such as canal dredging for improved irrigation and drainage, dyke building to protect specific areas from flooding and allowing triple rice cropping systems, and through the development of sluice gates to attempt limiting salinity intrusion in inland coastal areas. The last decades have therefore seen rapid transformations in the delta, both from a biophysical perspective and, through programmes of market liberalization (notable since doi moi), from social and economic perspectives.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Renaud, Professor Fabrice
Authors: Renaud, F. G., and Kuenzer, C.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social & Environmental Sustainability

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