Asian Journal of Environment and Disaster Management (AJEDM)Volume 4 Number 4 (2012)
Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerabilities and Adaptation Measures in the Lower Mekong Basin
The Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) is home to more than 60 million people, 72% of whom live in rural environments, spread over the parts of the four countries Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Cambodia within the bounds of the Mekong’s watershed. It is also highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This paper aims to take the initial step towards policy discussion on adaptation by looking at observed and projected vulnerabilities in the social, economic and political context of the LMB. The region has already experienced climate-related hazards such as coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion in the Mekong Delta, as well as increased intensity and unpredictability of annual floods and droughts. With anticipated climatic changes such as a 0.79 degree Celsius increase in average temperature and a 0.2 m per annum increase in precipitation, the region will be increasingly vulnerable to these hazards as well as fisheries and agriculture productivity losses and food security issues. Of course, specific vulnerabilities in each of the four countries will differ according to the localised climatic changes each faces and the social, economic and political capacities they have to deal with these changes. Similarly, adaptation efforts made by each country also vary. They generally center round general development issues such as water and food security and improving technical and institutional processes. These tend to be reactionary rather than anticipatory in nature and fail to address transboundary adaptation issues.
Keywords: Climate change, Adaptation, Lower mekong basin.