FAO in Viet Nam

COVID-19 pandemic response through delivering cash grants


Ca Mau Province, Viet Nam. Nguyen Thi My Chau, a 53-year-old farmer, lives with her family in a small commune in the Mekong River Delta province of Ca Mau in Viet Nam.

Amid the pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic disruption as well as an ongoing drought, life for Chau and her family has become increasingly challenging. Normally she takes care of two grandchildren for her son, who migrated to the city for work. Recently, he stopped sending money home as he and his wife had lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Due to the market’s closure and social distancing rules, women have stopped selling vegetables and her vegetable patch and fish pond were seriously damaged by the on-going drought.

 The family now solely relies on her unstable income from daily labouring to buy food. The family is not listed as a poor household and faces difficulties in meeting requirements to access the government social assistance programme. Chau’s household is not alone though, many in her commune and others in the Mekong River Delta are in a similar predicament due to COVID-19. 

Compounding pressures from the pandemic, Ca Mau province is frequently hit by extreme weather events (typhoons, drought, saline intrusion). Since the last quarter of 2019, the province has been experiencing prolonged drought and saline intrusion damaging agriculture production and threatening food insecurity. In addition, the government’s COVID-19 social distancing order has worsened food security and livelihoods in the province. Although the government is providing social assistance to people and families impacted by COVID-19 through delivering cash grants to poor/near poor households, people losing jobs and small-scale household business, many people remain vulnerable and the path to recovery is unclear.

In response, FAO Viet Nam conducted a rapid assessment on the impacts of drought and saline intrusion and COVID-19 pandemic to food security and livelihoods of vulnerable households in Ca Mau province. The assessment is within the on-going project “Scaling up Forecast based Financing/Early Warning Early Action (FbF/EWEA) and Shock Responsive Social Protection (SRSP) with innovative use of climate risk information for disaster resilience in ASEAN” funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO). FAO works as lead agency of the project, together with UNICEF, UN Women, WFP and International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) will contribute to more effective humanitarian response and also aligned with outcome of the humanitarian summit in 2016 which FAO has also committed to provide technical support. The project will also provide cash grants to 700 vulnerable households impacted by COVID-19, in addition to the on-going project implementation.