Flood-based agriculture in the Upper Mekong Delta

Publié: 29 juillet 2022
Dernière modification: 21 février 2023
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IUCN promoted and improved locally-practiced, flood-based (wetland) agriculture and livelihood models in the Vietnamese provinces of An Giang, Dong Thap and Long An. These practices were based on documented farmer knowledge and experience. Flood-based livelihoods were encouraged as a financially viable, low risk alternative to triple rice cropping (the dominant agricultural practice). They help enhance economic and climate resilience as well as conserve and restore the biodiversity found in Mekong Delta freshwater wetlands/floodplains. The intervention employed a Nature-based Solution and considered three systems - floating rice systems, lotus farming systems and rice aquaculture systems. In addition, due to increasing weather extremes, hybrid solutions were also explored (combination of dykes and floodplains). Hybrid models can better enable controlled flooding and adaptive approaches to overcome risks of drought and to manage the arrival and recession of floods to be more in tune with cropping needs. 


Asie du Sud-Est
Ampleur de la mise en œuvre
Rivière, ruisseau
Terres cultivées
Zones humide (marécage, marais, tourbière)
Écosystème agricole
Écosystèmes d'eau douce
Acteurs locaux
Cadre juridique et politique
Fragmentation et la dégradtion de l'habitat
Gestion des inondations et des incendies
Moyens d'existence durables
Réduction des risques de catastrophes
Services écosystèmiques
Standards/ certification
Autre thème
Nature-Based Solutions
Perte de l'écosystème
Récolte non durable, y compris la surpêche
Manque d'autres possibilités de revenu
Manque de sensibilisation du public et des décideurs
Mauvaise surveillance et application de la loi
Objectifs de développement durable
ODD 6 - Eau propre et assainissement
ODD 8 - Travail décent er croissance économique
ODD 12 - Consommation et production responsables
ODD 13 - Mesures relatives à la lutte contre les changements climatiques
ODD 15 - Vie terrestre
Objectifs d’Aichi
Objectif 1: Sensibilisation accrue de la biodiversité
Objectif 3: Attraits réformées
Objectif 4: Production et consommation durables
Objectif 5: Perte d'habitat réduite de moitié ou diminuée
Objectif 7: Agriculture, aquaculture et sylviculture durable
Objectif 8: Pollution réduite
Objectif 11: Aires protégées et conservées
Objectif 14: Services des écosystèmes
Cadre de Sendai
2: Réduire nettement, d’ici à 2030, le nombre de personnes touchées par des catastrophes.
3: Réduire, d’ici à 2030, les pertes économiques directes dues aux catastrophes en proportion du produit intérieur brut (PIB).


Chợ Tháp Mười, Huyện Tháp Mười, Dong Thap 871400, Vietnam


Triple rice mono-cropping by poldering has been the dominant agricultural practice in the floodplains of the Mekong Delta. This practice caused significant losses of the seasonal floodplain in the Delta  as well as a decline of ecosystem functions, including reduced land fertility, declining flood resilience and decreased aquatic habitat and biodiversity. The negative impacts caused by increased flood risk also resulted in transboundary challenges between Vietnam and Cambodia. To address these challenges, the concept of flood-based agriculture as a Nature-based Solution emerged as part of a larger Programme of Work starting with the 2013 Mekong Delta Plan, which leveraged a number of projects that explored its feasibility. Initial studies of farmer initiatives and proof of concept in IUCN pilot sites were completed between 2015 and 2018. These fed into the design and implementation of similar projects in the region (e.g. those by the World Bank, IUCN and FAO).


primarily local farmers, government representatives

Comment les blocs constitutifs interagissent-ils entre eux dans la solution?

The building blocks highlight a number of key insights that emerged from the assessment of the flood-based agriculture intervention in Vietnam against the criteria and indicators of the IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutionsᵀᴹ. While they do not give a full picture of what can be considered a Nature-based Solution as all criteria in the Standard are of equal importance, they illustrate some of the factors that made the introduction of this new farming model successful and highlight important next steps to increase uptake and scale-up, and ensure financial sustainability.


The main positive impacts of employing flood-based agriculture in the Upper Mekong Delta include improved flood risk management through enhanced ecosystem functions of floodplains. The conservation or restoration of flood retention capacities supported aquifer recharge, a reduction in land subsidence and the conservation or restoration of aquatic habitat/biodiversity. Additional positive impacts include the possibility of wild fisheries, mitigation of river erosion through the re-establishment of natural hydrology of seasonal flooding and increased land fertility, including through sediment deposition due to the seasonal flooding.



In 2016, the Flood Retention Strategy for the Mekong Delta was proposed, which allows provinces to plan in a more coordinated manner across floodplains and to protect ecosystems. Flood-based livelihood models, such as lotus farming, floating rice systems and rice-aquaculture, are included in the Strategy as financially viable options for farmers.


Conversion to flood-based agricultural practices have numerous benefits for local farmers. Intensive lotus farming has already demonstrated that the increased storage of flood water (approx. 1,500 m³ per 1,000 m²) has increased the abundance of fish, crab and water birds. Moreover, there is no longer a need for chemical or pesticide use.   


The benefits of this Nature-based Solution have also been recognised by local farmers:


Mr Nguyen Ngoc Hon, an experienced lotus farmer from MyHoa commune, Thap Muoi District, said: “I strongly believe that the farmers in the high dyke areas will be willing to convert to lotus farming models if the profit from lotus is higher than rice cultivation, so the flood retention strategy is a feasible target. Of course, lotus farming can hold more water than rice cultivation. Therefore, it helps to regulate the environment better. I think the lotus models can adapt with climate change impacts because it can deal with floods and droughts as well. Planting lotus produces higher incomes while it is better for the environment!”

Contribué par

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Kristin Meyer International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

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