"Strong roots, strong women" defies adverse conditions in Vietnam – an interim report
2021 RISK Award
Since August 2021, the team from CSRD and the University of Potsdam has been working on the 2021 RISK Award project "Strong roots, strong women". The overall goal is to make the coast in Thua Thien Hue province more resilient to storms, floods and erosion. At the same time, the ecosystems in the lagoon are to be maintained in order to guarantee sustainable livelihood options. The project is working on several strands of action. Progress was made at the turn of the year, but in some places we continue to face COVID-19-related challenges.
The construction of the tree nursery has been completed over the last six months. Mangrove seedlings can now be planted, resold and used on coastal land that has been leased on a long-term basis. The production cycle for mangroves actually starts in September or October, but massive storms made it difficult to start on time in 2021 (we reported). In November the time had finally come and a total of 28,000 seedlings, 7,000 Rhizophora Apiculata (3.5 rows) and 21,000 Sonneratia Caseolaris (8 rows), could be planted in the nursery. Unfortunately, there was also unusually heavy and prolonged rainfall in December after the tropical storm Rai, so that parts of the nursery were under water for days. This clearly caused problems for the young plants. In order to protect the more sensitive Rhizophora apiculata, they were initially relocated in their pots to the staff's houses. Only when it became drier again did they find their way back to the nursery. Thanks to these measures, about 18,500 seedlings survived until spring 2022. These seedlings have grown very well and can soon be used externally.
Strengthen partnership with local women's union
One goal of the project is to strengthen the rights and visibility of women. Especially in resilience building in local communities, they play an immensely important role. Here in Thua Thien Hue province, the project aims to work with the Women's Union. Among other things, theater plays are developed by local groups of the Women’s Union and further capacity training measures are to be undertaken. However, due to the continuing strict Corona measures, these activities cannot be started. Public events in general are difficult to organise at the moment, but together we are looking at possible alternatives.
The project concept has the potential to be replicated elsewhere. In order to demonstrate lessons learned, it is important that results are communicated regularly. My Pham, CSRD, presented the project at the Resilience Hub, a virtual platform at COP26 on 10 November 2021. The session was titled "From the Ground-Up: Citizen-Focused Approaches to Strengthen Climate-Resilience in Southeast Asian Cities". The World Climate Conference is definitely a right place with the right addressees. Philip Bubeck, University of Potsdam, presented and discussed the project with students in two courses at the University of Potsdam. On 12 December, the project was presented as part of the Studium oecologicum. This is a student initiative that works for more sustainability in teaching and campus life. Every semester, it organises an interdisciplinary lecture series for various disciplines. The project was also presented in the lecture series "Current Topics in Geoecology" on 4 November.
The budget from the RISK Award is mainly used for the establishment of the nursery, capacity training of the project participants and some dissemination activities. For the funding of the seedling work, a big step forward has also been achieved: the British furniture manufacturer ‘The Cotswold Company’ is buying 15,000 seedlings from this year's production cycle as part of its Corporate Sustainability Strategy and is also paying for the planting of the seedlings along the coast by members of the local community and project staff. Initially, this partnership between CSRD and ‘The Cotswold Company’ is for one year. However, both sides are looking into further cooperation.
Overall, the project is progressing well, reaching important milestones. In the area of dissemination and outreach, activities are still limited due to COVID-19. But thanks to the commitment and flexibility of our project partners, we are able to compensate for this.