Viet Nam

Mainstreaming disaster resilience in Vietnam: Engaging with communities to build resilience

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AT A GLANCE

Country Vietnam
Risks Climate change change exacerbating extreme weather events
Area of Engagement Enabling resilient recovery

The government of Vietnam has implemented a comprehensive approach to disaster risk management which prioritizes engagement with local communities.

THE CONSTANT THREAT OF NATURAL HAZARDS

Vietnam is one of the most hazard-prone countries in the Asia-Pacific region, with floods and storms often isolating communities and disrupting trade flows. Over the past two decades, extreme weather events have caused more than 13,000 deaths and property damage in excess of $6.4 billion in the country. More than 70% of its population is at risk from natural hazards, particularly the rural and urban poor.

The Vietnamese government, with support from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and the World Bank, has made important strides in building resilience against risk from natural disasters and climate change. A combination of GFDRR’s technical assistance and World Bank lending is helping the Vietnamese government mainstream disaster resilience in the Southeast Asian country with large scale impacts across a variety of sectors including transportation, urban and rural development, hydrological and meteorological monitoring services (hydromet), and water resource management.

A COMMUNITY-BASED APPROACH TO DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT

Recognizing the need to integrate disaster and climate resilience into development, the government of Vietnam has established a policy framework for disaster risk management (DRM) and climate change through a number of laws, strategies, action plans, and programs across governing levels and sectors. In line with this framework, the government of Vietnam has successfully shifted from a reactive, post-disaster response approach to a more comprehensive, community-based disaster risk reduction strategy oriented around risk-informed planning and resilient infrastructure. Key elements of this approach include:

  • Engagement with numerous ministries and provincial officials, as well as technical experts involved in integrated flood risk management, community-based disaster risk management, agricultural production, and climate-proofing transport networks.

  • Provincial agencies and communities now have the capability to plan for and respond to disasters more effectively. Early warning evacuation systems and community scale mitigation measures will benefit nearly 1.1 million villagers across 130 communities.

  • Communities have been trained to develop their own preparedness strategies and to integrate DRM into their local socio-economic development plans. The Vietnamese government has invested $500 million to roll out community-based DRM projects across more than 6,000 disaster-vulnerable communities, engaging civil society groups such as the Quang Binh Women’s Association.

  • The Vietnamese government, with the support of GFDRR, is moving forward with the implementation of Vietnam’s new DRM law, including the development of a government-led platform to coordinate the financing and implementation of DRM investments. This requires the strengthening of policy and institutional frameworks and will be complemented by targeted activities to improve the resilience of specific sectors such as energy, transport, urban development, and agriculture.

LESSONS LEARNED

Engineering measures alone are not sufficient to tackle disaster risks.

While infrastructure investments, such as dikes, are critical, they must be paired with community engagement, training, strong design standards, material specifications, quality control, early warning, spatial planning, maintenance management, and green solutions. For example, community DRM training manuals and resilient standards for small-scale public infrastructure have been rolled out in more than 6,000 disaster-vulnerable communes across the country. These have proven to be key elements of the government’s communitybased disaster risk management program.

Integrated spatial planning is needed to counter trends that are driving urban flood risk.

Even as Vietnam has bolstered its flood control efforts, these are often hindered by uncontrolled and haphazard development in flood prone areas. Accordingly, the optimization of upstream reservoir operation, land subsidence control, and prevention of tidal flooding and rainfall inundation in the context of climate change also need to be integrated into spatial development planning, particularly in the country’s rapidly growing cities.