Thursday, April 28, 2016

Vietnamese university discusses partnership with IRRI

LOS BAÑOS, Philippines—Delegates from the Ho Chi Minh University of Culture (HCMUC), led by Le Thanh Hai, senior lecturer at the Faculty of Media and Communication, and representatives from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) recently discussed potential institutional partnerships, particularly in the area of climate change communication.

The university offers programs in journalism, tourism, museum management, information-library management, culture management, folk culture, cultural studies, traditional culture, and Asian culture.

Dr. Hai’s group expressed keen interest in disseminating information on climate change to the Vietnamese people, especially those in the Mekong Delta region, through innovative campaigns, cultural activities, and local and mass media. In doing so, they hope to engage the locals to take action and address this important global issue.

The Mekong Delta region in southern Vietnam is now facing its most severe drought in nearly a century and its water level is reportedly at its lowest point since the late 1920s. The below-average rainfall in recent months has caused water shortages, a decline in agricultural production, and increased salinity in irrigated fields.

IRRI has long been conducting research projects in Vietnam and has developed a wide range of technologies and practices that could help farmers in the Mekong Delta better adapt to the impacts of climate change. IRRI also hosts the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) in Southeast Asia, which has established three Climate-Smart Villages (CSVs) across Vietnam. At this point, it is vital that the rich research outputs from IRRI and CCAFS reach the Vietnamese farmers so they could actually benefit from these.

CSVs are villages located in different ecosystems and experiencing various climate challenges. These are farming communities where local actions and convergence of initiatives are carried out to increase farm productivity in a sustainable way, improve climate resilience (adaptation), in ways that would reduce greenhouse gas emission from the farming systems (mitigation).

Ms. Corinta Guerta, IRRI director for external relations, proposed that HCMUC should align its information dissemination activities and promotional and awareness campaigns with the research activities being undertaken by IRRI and CCAFS.

In August, HCMUC, along with other agricultural universities in the area, will be organizing a student congress. The congress will be a venue for students to share and discuss their ideas and understanding of the CSV concept and some activities in the CSVs in Vietnam that CCAFS SEA is overseeing. Dr. Hai considers this as a culminating activity where their students will present in various creative forms and medium, the ideas and outputs from science-based materials that will be shared by IRRI and CCAFS.

Other short-term activities suggested during the meeting included the translation of a CCAFS SEA-supported guidebook on climate change for Philippine journalists. The guidebook could be translated into Vietnamese and then be contextualized in local scenarios. IRRI, CCAFS, and HCMUC can also jointly publish and produce other information materials for Vietnamese audiences.

Collaboration in the areas of training and other capacity-building activities will also be explored.

(This news item was written by Meira Steffanie Andutan, IRRI intern.)

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