Post-Doctoral Research Programme on Adaptation to Climate Change

Research Areas PRoACC-2

Phase 2 focuses on the following four main research themes:
  • Enhancing the adaptive capacity and livelihoods of poor people to cope with climate change;
  • Managing sediments and nutrients across scales and climate change adaptation;
  • Urbanizing areas in the Mekong delta and climate change adaptation;
  • Transboundary cooperation for sustainable water management and climate change adaptation


Enhancing the adaptive capacity and livelihoods of poor people to cope with climate change

IHE Delft coordinator: Prof. dr. Charlotte de Fraiture, Professor of Hydraulic Engineering for Land and Water Development
Regional coordinator: Dr. Hao Li, Changjiang River Scientific Research Institute, China

Overall thematic research proposal


Risk Perception to Climate Change and Its Influence on Rural Livelihoods in the Lancang River

Researcher: Dr. Hao Li
Institute: Changjiang River Scientific Research Institute, China
Many policies on climate change implemented in the rural area of the Lancang River Basin try to improve livelihood of the poor. However, these policies do not always achieve the goal effectively because the discrepancy in risk perception between farmers and policy makers. This discrepancy is usually caused by the lack of knowledge on (a) the procedure of risks perception formulation, (b) the unclear connection between perception on climate risks and adaptive behavior and (c) the undefined connection between adaptive behavior and livelihoods. 
The main research question of the project is: “How risk perception on climate change determines farmers' livelihoods in the rural of the Lancang River Basin?”


Risk Perception and Livelihoods under Climate Change in the Mekong Cambodia

Researcher: Mr. Kesa Ly
Institute:Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Cambodia is considered one of the most disaster prone countries in the Mekong region due to a lack of adaptive capacities of addressing climate change related hazards. The country has been hit by natural disasters, especially floods and droughts in the last decades, sometimes both disasters occurring in the same year.The impacts of droughts and floods are most severe within the agricultural sector which concerns many people as agriculture accounts for around 29% of Cambodia’s GDP and 59% of employment. 
Effective policies and programs to address farmers' ability to cope and recover from floods and droughts are therefore necessary. To be effective these programs need to incorporate farmers' perspectives.
The overall research question is how to attenuate the discrepancy between what the farmer do and think about climate change with climate change policy intentions in the Mekong Cambodia?


Adaptation to climate change and local livelihood in Lancang River Basin: The role of risk perceptions and social capital
Researcher: Dr. Yazhen Gong
Institute: Renmin University, China
Analyzing the role of risk perceptions and social capital for local people’s adaptation and their adaptive capacity is posited to have important empirical and policy implications.  However, the empirical research in this regard is still very scant in GMRB in general and LRB in particular.
First, risk perceptions may play significant roles in local people’s adaptation. Nonetheless, currently, little empirical evidence is available in this region. 
Second, there is also a dearth of empirical evidence regarding the role of social capital in determining the local people’s adaptive capacity. 
Given the potential importance of risk perception and social capital for people’s adaptation and adaptive capacity, conducting an in-depth research in this regard should have important policy implications.  If risk perceptions and social capital are found to help bolster local people’s ability of reducing impacts from extreme weather shocks and coping with risks, finding from the research will shed some light on the design of effective policies that can be tailored to local conditions and help local people to pursue a sustainable livelihood in a changing climate. 
Key questions to be answered by this research include:
  • What adaptive measures have been taken by the local people?  
  • What are local people’s perceptions on climate change and its risks placed on their livelihood?
  • Do risk perceptions significantly explain the variations in local people’s adaptive measures?
  • Does social capital explain the variations in local people’s adaptive measures?
  • What are the major barriers for local people’s adaptation? 


Managing sediments and nutrients across scales and climate change adaptation

IHE Delft coordinator: Dr. Shreedhar Maskey, Senior Lecturer in Hydrology
Regional coordinator: Dr. Kittiwet Kuntiyawichai, Khon Kaen University, Thailand
Assessing the impacts of changes in water variability, sediment and nutrient on rice and fish production under climate change in the Mekong River Delta
Researcher: Mr. Ngoc An Trieu
Institute: Water Resources University of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The sediment dynamics of the flood season play an important role in the agro-ecosystem of the Mekong River Delta by providing nutrient input for the subsequent farming season. However, the actual inputs and dynamics have never been studied in detail, hence any quantitative information about impact of sediment and nutrient dynamics on rice productivity as well as hydrological variability and human intervention on fish population are lacking. These issues have generated a controversial discussion on the benefits of flood defense structures in light of their contribution to reduced nutrient input in the MRD. Furthermore, global climate change has been anticipated in the near futures. The flat lowland areas will be very first areas facing with the impacts of climate change (sea-level rise,extreme events etc.). Urgent actions are necessary to prevent decreasing negative impacts caused by climate change in the Mekong River Delta. For this reason, sediment is one of water related issues that has generated most misunderstandings among managers and scientists, as reported by Campbell (2007).
The major research questions of this study are as follows:
  • What are impacts of hydrological changes caused by climate change on sediment/ nutrients transport?
  • How hydrodynamics variability impact to sediment and nutrient quantity under anticipated climate change? And how sediment and nutrient concentration variability impact to agricultural productivity?
  • Which is the best? Fixed or non-fixed schedule (of seeding, transplanting of rice, and applying fertilizer, etc.) and how it impacts rice yield?
  • What are the impacts of anticipated climate changes and human intervention on fish population dynamics?
  • What are agro-adaptation measures?
  • What are the best ways to predict nutrient and sediment transport by taking into account the uncertainties related to climate change and others?


Assessment of Impacts of Climate Change and Land Management Practices on Sediment Yield in River Basins: Case Study of Nam Ou and Chi River Basin
Researcher: Ms. Manisha Mahardjan
Institute: Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand
Studies in the Mekong Region show the impact of climate change and human interventions on the flow regime (Kingston et al, 2011, Reungsang et al., 2010). Sediment also plays a role for agriculture, navigation, bank erosion, filling of reservoirs etc. Sediments may have its effect on water use and transport behavior, aquatic life and ecosystems in river (Walling, 2008). High sediment generation from upstream areas affects downstream channels in terms of sedimentation, low water availability and poor quality of water. Climate change affects in the river morphology, discharge and sediment flux of the river basin (Bikesh et al, 2013). Since sediment is related to water availability, water quality and other development strategies, it is important to develop different management strategies for sediment control and management. The following questions are important for this research:
  • What are the possible impacts of climate change on sediment yield?
  • What will be the impacts of reservoir development on sediment yield?
  • How can sediment yield vary in spatial and temporal scales within the river basin?
  • Do the land management practices help in controlling sediment yield and if yes, to what extent of the river basin?
  • What are the land management options that can be applied to the entire river basin in order to reduce the possible sediment erosion or sediment yield?



Urbanizing areas in the Mekong delta and climate change adaptation

IHE Delft coordinator: Dr. Assela Pathirana, Senior Lecturer in Urban Drainage and Sewerage
Regional coordinator: Dr. Ho Long Phi, Vietnam National University of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Urbanizing areas in the Mekong Delta: Resilience adaptation to future change
Researcher: Dr. Chau Nguyen Xuan Quang
Institute: Vietnam National University of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Improving flood resilience for cites of Mekong delta is very important for sustainable development in this region. The pathway to resilience is different from city to city because the initial conditions, the context and trajectory for future changes are not the same. Therefore, understanding of the nature of urbanization and the complexities, dynamics and interlinked factors driving development is crucial step toward resilience. Then the feasible and flexible adaptation options are proposed and mainstreamed to attain overall flood resilience.
In this research, Can Tho City study is proposed to find out what is the best pathway to resilience. The findings from Can Tho can be upscaled/generalized to similar cities in Viet Nam and other regions. 
In the Can Tho City case study, ProACC2U proposes to focus on three major issues: urban flooding, water quality and health, and land surface subsidence.  The first stage, the research will focus on 5 inter-linked aspects including: resilience, risk analysis, surface water pollution, hydrology and meteorology anomalies, and land subsidence. The second stage, feasible, flexible, and comprehensive approaches will be adopted to mainstream into urban development progress and to adapt with future changes. 
With regarding to flood resilience research, the following research questions are proposed:
  • What are the main causes of flooding in Can Tho City with considering the impact of climate change, land subsidence?
  • What are the baselines with respect to understanding, strategic plan, current infrastructure, legal frame work and community perception?
  • What are the gaps between baselines and objectives?
  • How to mainstream flood resilience into ongoing urban development process?
  • How to propose a comprehensive, feasible and flexible urban planning approach adapting to future change for Can Tho City?
  • How to upscale and generate the findings in Can Tho City case study for similar cities? 


Urbanizing areas in the Mekong Delta and climate change adaptation – water pollution
Researcher: Dr. Nguyen Hong Quan
Institute: Vietnam National University of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Current urban management approaches adapted from developed countries tend to not-easy-to implement in the developing/emerging countries. Transferring knowledge from modern world is essential but a difficult task since many existing constrains. These include Governance, Perception, Technology and Finance in which (normally) the first two are most difficulties. Therefore, providing a suitable, adaptation approach for a local city is a very challenging task. In addition, given uncertain future (internal and external) scenarios, especially when extreme events occur, providing a flexible framework will enable the internal resilience capacity of the society to minimize damages.
Based on the meeting with Can Tho Climate Change Coordination Office as well as experiences in the areas, three major issues were identified to focus on. These comprise (1) Urban water flooding, (2) Water quality and health, and (3) Land surface subsidence. In the theme of “Urban water quality” of the ProACC2U, the following research questions are proposed:
  • What are the main causes of water quality pollution in the receiving water bodies?
  • What are the impacts of climate change (CC) (including sea level rise – SLR), land subsidence on water quality pollution of the urbanizing cities?
  • What are possible solutions for improving the water quality of the urbanizing cities? 
  • How to mainstream urban water planning to deal with surface water pollution based on a flexibility approach?


Transboundary cooperation for sustainable water management and climate change adaptation

IHE Delft coordinator: Dr. Yong Jiang, Senior Lecturer in Water Resources Economics
Regional coorinator: Dr. Ngo Le An, Hanoi Water Resources University, Vietnam
Understanding the Impact Climate Change and Dam Development on the Hydrological System and Socio-Economic Implications in the Lower Mekong: A Case Study of the Sesan and Srepok River Basin, Vietnam
Researcher: Dr. Ngo Le An
Institute: Hanoi Water Resources University, Vietnam
The upper part of the Sesan and Srepok basins in Viet Nam is particularly affected by an increasing demand for water as a result of: 1) rapid development and intensification of the agricultural and agro-industrial sectors with a high demand for water for irrigation during the dry periods, and 2) rapid growth of population and development of large urban areas, requiring more and more drinking water and water for industrial use (ADB 2010). The construction and operation of dams in the upper part of the basins also contributed to flow change downstream, especially in flooding season. In 2000 when the first dam was operated in the Sesan river (Yali dam), large scale flooding and loss of property downstream were reported as the result of large uncontrolled releases of water associated with commissioning tests of the dam’s spillway (Wyatt, 2007). After some meeting between Cambodian and Vietnamese Governments through a Joint Committee, a system for early warning of unusual water releases was established. For subsequent dam constructions, the comments from Cambodia in the EIA required avoiding damage due to sudden dam release of water. The impacts from dam operation on communities downstream in Cambodia were found including unusual flooding events, increased dry-season flows, unpredictable fluctuations in river flow and height, decreased water quality (Wyatt, 2007). In the Climate Change context, the seasonal fluctuation of flow could be more widely (Chu Thai HOANH, 2010). The operation of dams could cause more serious conflicts between upstream and downstream countries. Understanding the change in the hydrologic regime due to dams operation and climate change can further help reducing the potential conflict, promoting sustainable development in the region. In order to meet this target, the important research questions are:  
  • What/Where are the main transboundary issues in the Sesan and Srepok rivers (Vietnam)? 
  • What/When are the impacts of hydropower dams (take into account the climate change, operation rules, etc) on hydrologic regimes in each basin. 
  • What/Where are the impacts of hydrologic regime changes on the other criteria (inundated area, biodiversity for fishes, etc). 
  • What are the adaptation measures for mitigating the impacts? 
  • What are the cost/benefits for upstream area (Vietnam)?


Water-related Risks of Rural Livelihood and Biodiversity: An Assessment of Transboundary Impacts Caused by Floods and Droughts under Dam Development and Climate Change
Researcher: Dr. Seak Sophat
Institute: Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Upstream watershed development in Vietnam combined with climate change seriously and negatively affects the livelihoods and biodiversity of downstream in Cambodia. Despite the significance of the transboundary water issues, there is a lack of understanding of: 1) the consequences of changing flood and drought risks due to dam development and operation and climate change in the 2S region, and 2) mitigation measure to tackle with the tranboundary issues. 
The proposed research will address the following research questions:
What are historical damages by floods to infrastructure, livelihoods, human, agricultural crops, fish and related biodiversity depending upon the 2S river basin?
  • To what extent and in what scales are those damages caused by floods to infrastructure, livelihoods, human, agricultural crops, and related biodiversity depending upon the 2S river basin?
  • What are the major sectors affected by droughts attributed to upstream dam development and climate change?
  • To what extent and in what scales do droughts impact on agricultural crops, livelihoods, human, and fish depending upon the 2S river basin?
  • To what extent do these impacts by floods and droughts create transboundary problems between Cambodia and Vietnam under conditions of climate change which affects the upstream hydropower dam development and operation?
  • What are the mitigation mechanisms in place that have been applied to address the impacts and problems pertinent to these transboundary issues? And what can be done in order to fill in the gaps and improve the existing mitigation mechanism?


The Governance of the 3S River Basin: Transboundary Cooperation for Sustainable Water Management and Climate Change Adaptation
Researcher: Dr. Mak Sithirith
Institute: Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The main objective of this research is to study the governance of the 3S River Basins, aiming at enhancing the transboundary cooperation for sustainable water management and adaptation to the climate change following the increased pressure on water resources and the climate change in the 3S River Basins.
To achieve this objective, the study aims at achieving the immediate objectives as a following which are to:
  • assess the existing regional mechanism and institutional arrangement for managing the 3S River Basins due to hydrological development in the Mekong and the climate change;
  • analyze local, national, and international actors involved in managing the 3S River Basins;
  • review local practices in water management at local levels in a response to increased development pressure on water resources and climate change