FAO in Viet Nam

Looking through a closer lens to the drought-affected farmers


In 2016, Central and Southern Viet Nam has experienced the worst drought and salt intrusion in 90 years, with 18 provinces declaring state of emergency at its most severe time. From this event, 1 million people were in need of food assistance and 1.75 million people lost their income due to damaged or lost livelihoods. The Government of Viet Nam has also estimated an economic loss of 674 million US Dollar. Farmer Dinh Van Tuong, the eldest son-in-law of the Dinh family from An Thanh Commune, Gia Lai Province, was no exception.

“Last year, we lost 60% of our crop production.” said Mr. Dinh Van Tuong. “As a family of 11 members, we used to produce 100 bags of maize annually that would feed the whole family. But after losing a huge portion of our crop, we couldn’t pay back the debt at the local store with our harvest and we really didn’t know what to do. We were really out of options. That is when we heard of the cash distribution for households affected by drought.”

With the financial assistance from the EU Humanitarian aid and civil protection (ECHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Viet Nam and ActionAid Viet Nam (AAV) distributed unconditional cash and vouchers for agricultural inputs to the poor households that were affected from the deadly drought. 

“We received 2.2million Vietnamese Dong (96 US Dollar) for the emergency response. My family spent 2 million VND to buy rice for the whole family and medicine for our sick mother-in-law. With the 200 000 VND that is left, we are planning to buy salt or spices and save it for emergencies.” said Mr. Dinh Van Tuong with a bit of relief on his face. 

From this ECHO-funded emergency response project, 3 077 households in Gia Lai, Dak Lak and Dak Nong Provinces received 2 unconditional cash transfers (2 disbursements of VND 1 100 000 each – USD 49) during the lean season (In November and March). On top of that, 2 392 households were supported with agricultural input vouchers worth 2 500 000 VND (USD 112). The vouchers were divided into 1 yellow coupon worth 1 000 000 VND and 2 blue coupons worth 750 000 VND each.

 “Seeing a field of dead crops from drought is every farmer’s nightmare. However this was my reality.” said a voucher beneficiary Ms. Dinh Thi Cam, from Yang Bac Commune, Gia Lai Province. “My family’s chilli farming completely went bad from the drought and lack of agricultural water in the village. However, the vouchers for agricultural inputs that my family received helped us enormously in restoring our farming from the disaster. Now we are fully equipped with farming seeds and materials for the next agricultural season without the need of getting additional loans from the local store.” added Ms. Dinh Thi Cam.

“Distributing cash and agricultural vouchers to farmers for immediate drought response supports families to restart their livelihoods and avoid negative coping mechanisms such as incurring debt, selling assets, and reducing the amount and portions of meals per days. From the recent monitoring trip, we have found out that the food security and nutrition of the households that we are assisting has improved and the cash/voucher modality is adapted to their needs. We now need to ensure that these communities increase their resilience to climate related disasters in the long term” Said Roberta Tranquilli, the Emergency Operations Coordinator of FAO Viet Nam.