In April 2016, four provinces of Vietnam were struck by one of the largest manmade environmental incidents in Vietnam. Through a discharge of toxic chemicals by Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation, oceanic waters along Vietnam's central coast were severely polluted. Consequently, the livelihoods of over 510,000 people living in coastal communities were severely affected by the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation incident (FHS incident). This study focusses on ex-Ante and ex-post differences in livelihoods, and the subjective resilience of small-fishery households affected by the FHS incident in Hai Dng commune, a small coastal community, in central Vietnam. This was done through a qualitative analysis of livelihood strategies and resilience capacities of the affected households. Semi-structured interviews (n = 30), expert interviews (n = 3) and secondary data analysis were conducted from March to May 2018 employing a case study approach. Results show that the level of subjective resilience was strongly affected by a combination of social, financial, and human capitals. The presence, or lack, of these capitals combined with contextual factors influenced the livelihood strategies a household could pursue. Households that were able to pursue a combination of intensifying and diversifying livelihood strategies were most successful in recovering from and adjusting to the environmental incident. Households with restrained access to livelihood capitals were limited to intensifying livelihood strategies, having no real other option than persistence and increased dependence on government subsidies. Lastly, migration as a livelihood strategy and subsequent transformative resilience capacities remained generally low.
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