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Rice field and aquaculture in Thuan Hoa commune. (Photo Cr.: Donald Bason)

It’s a sunny day and temperatures are already well above 30 degrees. On the back of a motorbike, we are travelling down the small paved road in the coastal commune of Thuan Hoa in Vietnam’s Kien Giang Province. We pass rice paddies, chickens, dogs, children and small houses. We are on our way to visit Mr. Tiet Xay, one of many farmers doing a rotation farming system between rice and shrimp culture in the commune. Just arrived in the commune and seeing the rice/shrimp farming systems for the first time, As I travel on the back of the motorbike, I think about aquaculture and how the development of this sector is progressing rapidly in Asia.

Huai Kang Pla villagers participated in the workshop to identify community vulnerabilities and livelihood impacts of climate change. (Photo Cr. Josephine Green/IUCN)

For the six countries and 600 million people of the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) in Southeast Asia, the Mekong River has been central to many communities’ livelihoods for centuries. Changing climate that will affect temperature and rainfall patterns will have major impacts on critical agricultural systems, livestock, fisheries and ecosystems.

Water Way in Thuan Hoa Commune (Photo Cr. Ngo Cong Chinh/AMDI)

A few months ago, people in Bangkok were wearing winter coats and scarves! Bangkok is normally blazing hot no matter what time of year. We northern-faring expats like to say there are two seasons here – hot, and hotter; but, not the case this past winter. December and January were cool, crisp, and unbelievably pleasant. If this is climate change in Bangkok, then sign me up!

Meanwhile, from the opposite side of the planet in North America, over the past months I’ve heard distinct words repeated again and again with each Skype call to a family member or friend in the Midwest – sub-zero, arctic, icy, dangerously cold… and of course, the ominous sounding “Polar Vortex.”  We may be sweltering in Bangkok’s April heat now, but I’m still seeing images of snow on the Facebook images of friends from the U.S.

Tom Weaver, the Livestock Team Leader

The consumption of livestock derived products is rapidly increasing in the Lower Mekong River Basin.  This is largely attributed to increasing standards of living and household incomes. Improvements in production, processing and postharvest practices present new opportunities for livestock owners, but also greater competition. But what might happen to livestock in the not-so-distant future as a result of climate change? How might smallholders remain competitive in terms of production costs, increasing their access to output markets and building system resilience to climate change? Finding answers to these types of questions and others to inform producers who are faced with critical economic decisions is not easy.

Author: Paul Hartman  |  Posted on 22 August 2012
Paul Hartman, Chief of Party of USAID Mekong ARCC Program

Welcome to the USAID Mekong ARCC! As the inaugural blog post on our website, I thought it best to start off by sharing with you what I think we’re all about. This is no easy task, especially considering that while more than a decade working on environmental projects in Asia prepared me to step in as Project Director and quickly diagram the basic elements of the project, only in the past few months has my perspective on what we will contribute to climate change adaptation broadened enough to allow a more nuanced understanding. With this new found grasp, one term comes to mind when positing the core of USAID Mekong ARCC: integration.

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