This article analyses the implementation and outcomes of national development programs in a mountainous commune in Vietnam. The article traces the history of State intervention and the capacity of households and the community to adapt to change. The assessment reveals unintended consequences of the programs which strongly influence the ability of households to adapt to change. Some households possess more adaptive capacity given their better access to capital while others remain vulnerable because they are constrained in accessing resources and engage in nondiversified livelihoods. If shock events become more frequent, the livelihoods that are nondiversified will be most at risk.