The role of Tay indigenous knowledge in climate change adaptation in the Northern Mountainous Region of Vietnam

Hoa, Ha Thi; Son, H N; Kingsbury, A ; Chi, D T L; Tam, N V; Phan, D V

Abstract

Through generations of observation and experimentation, the Tay people of Bac Kan Province in the Northern Mountainous Region of Vietnam have developed complex farming systems, cultural practices and an indigenous knowledge base well-suited to their environments. Drawing on data collected through surveys, interviews and focus group discussions, this article first documents some of this knowledge and its role in supporting agricultural production. However, this research also uncovered that contemporary climate change is occurring at rates faster than that knowledge base can meaningfully adjust and adapt. Agricultural productivity was found to be greatly reduced, with men seeking off-farm employment to supplement the loss in income. Agrochemical use has soared and resulted in declines in the health of the local population. Village gender dynamics have also shifted and women have taken on the extra burden of farming. This paper posits that if indigenous knowledge was better integrated into adaptation planning and policies, its conservation and application would enhance resiliency to climate change in indigenous communities and beyond. Simultaneously, it also adds that as the nature, speed and severity of climate change in many marginal areas occur at rates faster than indigenous knowledge can adapt, blended forms of knowledge may offer practical solutions.

Keyword(s)

Climate adaptation; Ethnic minority; Indigenous knowledge; Tay; Vietnam


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