Key Challenges, Lasting Communities, Vietnam

Vietnam’s Food Security in the Context of Climate Change

Nov 23,2023

Based on the 1996 World Food Summit, food security is defined as the situation where all people, at all times, have both physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences, allowing for an active and healthy life.

There are four main dimensions of food security:

  • Physical Availability of Food: This addresses the supply side of food security and is determined by food production levels, stock levels, and net trade.
  • Economic and Physical Access to Food: Merely having an adequate national or international food supply doesn’t guarantee food security at the household level. Ensuring sufficient access involves considering incomes, expenditures, market dynamics, and prices.
  • Food Utilization: Utilization refers to how the body effectively utilizes the nutrients in food. Sufficient energy and nutrient intake result from good care and feeding practices, diverse diets, food preparation methods, and how food is distributed within households. This, combined with proper biological utilization of consumed food, determines individuals’ nutritional well-being.
  • Stability of the Other Three Dimensions Over Time: Even if current food intake is sufficient, food insecurity exists if access to food is periodically inadequate. This might occur due to adverse weather, political instability, or economic factors such as unemployment or rising food prices.

To achieve food security, all four dimensions must be addressed simultaneously.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates a 21% decrease in agricultural land productivity due to climate change. Rising temperatures, heavy rainfall, and increased CO2 levels harm soil health and reduce crop nutritional quality. Additionally, grain, wheat, and rice production might decline by 17% by 2050 if global temperatures continue to rise.

In Vietnam’s context, unusual weather and climate phenomena significantly impact agricultural production. Crop production is most strongly affected, with issues ranging from rice to fruit trees. Unbalanced nutrition, lack of clean water, insufficient nutrition education, food waste, and disease risks more directly affect nutritional status than mere food quantity in rural areas. The Mekong Delta requires a new generation equipped with nutrition knowledge and technological solutions to overcome these challenges. Given the impact of climate change, natural disasters, pollution, and unpredictable epidemics, national food security is a pressing issue, especially with rapid industrialization and urbanization.

In response, Kenan has conducted research and proposed evidence-based inclusive ideas to the Citi Food Security Fund. These ideas aim to reduce financial burdens on underserved and marginalized communities, ensuring their access to quality food and building resilience to climate change, particularly in Dong Thap province and the wider Mekong Delta.

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