AQUADAPT-Mekong Project Final Technical Report



AQUADAPT-Mekong Project Final Technical Report

The AQUADAPT-Mekong project aims to assist fish farmers in five Mekong countries better manage climate-related risks, and thus capacities to adapt to climate change, through jointly evaluating and supporting the development or uptake of promising innovations. This report covers entire project period, 1 November 2017 to 31 October 2020.
The project built capacities to manage climate-related risks, and thus key competencies needed to adapt to climate change, in selected parts of the aquaculture sector in all five project countries: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. In particular, it demonstrated the importance of supporting the development and uptake of innovations, including novel uses of information-communication technologies. Moreover, the project made a significant contribution to knowledge about how innovation and adaptation intersect in the aquaculture sector by bringing practices, or the things people normally do, to the fore.

Within the region the transdisciplinary project teams, built around the roles of Innovation Facilitators and Solution Teams, learnt a lot by doing, helping facilitate the refinement of emerging innovations, while at the same time building multi-stakeholder collaboration and relations with key actors. We believe this latter achievement has the best chance of making a long-term and significant contribution to improving the management of climate-related risks and the formulation of policies on adaptation in the aquaculture sectors of the five Mekong Region countries.

To improve our understanding of climate risks and priority needs for adaptation innovation in the targeted locations, a large-scale survey of levels of concern and experience with significant losses of over 3,300 aquaculture farmers using freshwater and brackish production systems was conducted. Data from this baseline survey alongside in-depth interviews with stakeholders revealed important climate-related risks, which included rapid changes in temperature, drought, intense rainfall events, and floods. Existing risk management practices and strategies were documented and the need for locally appropriate aeration options or innovations confirmed. A strong interest in ICT-oriented platforms to share knowledge about novel (for a place) technologies was also confirmed and prioritized.

Follow-up interventions using Facebook groups, a smart-phone application, low-cost aeration systems, risk sharing practices, and impacts due to COVID-19 were completed, and alongside analyses of policy environment for innovation and sector-wide review, are the basis for our analyzing the lessons learnt. These results have been published in 5 international journal articles, 1 local language journal article, while 5 other submitted manuscripts are in review and a further 5 working papers under preparation for submission.
Dissemination of information to stakeholders was accomplished via presentations, training workshops, and onsite demonstrations. Social media has also played a significant role. Effective formats include infographics and video clips. Project activities in each country has also been featured in local media.
To ensure effective coordination of activities between project partners in all five Mekong countries, the Coordination Unit, in keeping with the agile method, was in frequent communication with project teams through fortnightly virtual meetings and messaging. To this end, partner countries have good relationships, exchange information, and provide suggestions to each other.

Regarding recent problems and challenges, the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic made implementing activities as planned difficult for Year 3 of the project. Originally planned in-depth face-to-face interviews and other activities with stakeholders had to be reduced, including travel among the research partner sites. A regional policy dialogue event planned towards the end of the project had to be cancelled. On the other hand, the situation became an opportunity to study the impacts of a highly disruptive crisis (COVID-19 pandemic) on the aquaculture sector in the Mekong Region.