Coping with golden forests and blue revolutions
Fly, Jessie Kimmel
MetadataShow full item record
When the Government of Vietnam initiated a series of reforms in 1986 to create a “socialist-oriented market economy,” its goals were rapid yet sustainable economic growth, national stability, and a decent standard of living for all its citizens. The most highly publicized outcomes of reform to date have been remarkable economic growth accompanied by dramatic decreases in national poverty rates. Less attention, however, has been given to the negative consequences of reform-era policies, particularly in marginalized regions of the country. This dissertation uses the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework to guide understanding of the creation of differential vulnerability in a small community on the eastern coast of the Mekong Delta. The dissertation traces that process from the policy changes that most affected the coastal region, the encouragement of shrimp aquaculture in the early 1990s and then retroactive mangrove forest conservation in the early 2000s, to household-level food insecurity. Coastal development has changed the distribution of resources in the area, created a local economy dependent on an unsustainable economic activity, and altered the ways in which households cope with stresses and strains on their resources. As households fall farther and farther into debt because of failing shrimp ponds and few other economic options and nearly an entire generation of young adults migrates out of the village in search of better opportunities, certain types of households have become particularly vulnerable. This dissertation identifies households displaced and resettled by a coastal conservation project and elderly-only households as disproportionately vulnerable to economic stress, contributing to greater reliance on erosive coping strategies, decreased household incomes, and greater food insecurity. In a country that will almost certainly be severely affected by global climate change, it is important to identify vulnerable populations and understand the mechanisms that create that vulnerability.