Viet Nam

Save the Children's statement to the floods in Vietnam

The floods that hit Vietnam on 2nd November 1999 were the worst in 40 years. Just as people were beginning to rebuild their livelihoods, they were hit by a second wave of floods during the first week of December. Altogether the floods have caused damage in 7 provinces, killed more than 700 people and affected about 800,000 homes. Over 100,000 hectares of agricultural land have been damaged or destroyed along with livestock and other assets. Three of the worst hit provinces are Thua Thien Hue, Quang Nam and Quang Tri. Two months on, helping people to stabilise and re-build their lives remains a huge task.
The second wave of floods destroyed many of the paddy fields that people had just replanted using their few remaining resources. The result could be food shortages over the next 6 months. With winter setting in, many families are facing harsh conditions with little food and shelter.

The International Red Cross, the Vietnam government and public have set up programmes to meet immediate needs. These are well resourced and are making good progress. The Red Cross is also re-housing many who have lost their homes. SCF is therefore focussing on longer-term needs, in particular the repair and rehabilitation of primary schools, which will help children's lives return to normal. Local labour will be used, thus generating local job opportunities.

In response to the second wave of flooding, the IFRC revised its appeal from US$4.1millon to US$4.7million, of which about $2.4million has been received. UN agencies and governments are contributing.

Key issues affecting children

There has been a huge loss of books, school furniture and other school equipment along with school buildings. Collapsed schools mean that there is no place for children to study. Inadequate facilities will result in poor teaching and learning.

Many children are facing food shortages and are in need of warm clothes to replace those that have been lost or damaged.

Children and families are also affected by skin diseases, fever and diahorrea due to using unclean water.

Save the Children's Response

SCF's primary conern is to set up activities which have a long-term impact, and which benefit many children. Discussions with related agencies, local communities and children suggest that school rehabilitation is one of the top priorities.

At present a lot of support is going into Thua Thien Hue, which is the worst affected area. SCF (UK) will focus on the second worst affected province - Quang Nam.

At present, the government relief effort is focussing on secondary education, leaving the responsibility of primary education to local communities and local government. The rehabilitation of primary schools in the poorest and worst affected areas is therefore a priority for SCF.

SCF will focus on school rehabilitation in two districts: Dai Loc and Thang Binh. The Dai Loc district is the most severely hit of the two. SCF has identified 24 classrooms that need to be rebuilt and these are being given priority.

In Thang Binh district, SCF have identified 52 classrooms which have either collapsed or are in very poor condition. With SCF's assistance, these can also be rebuilt and rehabilitated.

SCF (UK) has raised £40,000 which will go to towards re-building the 24 classrooms in Dai Loc benefiting 1,400 children. SCF is looking to secure further funding of about £220,000 to rehabilitate another 61 classrooms in Dai Loc as well as 52 in Thang Bin district. This will altogether benefit a further 8,500 children.