(According to the Summing-up Report on Disaster Situations in Recent Years and Preparedness and Mitigation Measures in Vietnam issued by the Department for Dyke Management, Flood and Storm Control, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on 27 November 2002)
The S-shaped Vietnam is situated in the tropical boundary of the Southeast Asia region, stretching from 80 to 230 latitude with 3,000 km coastline, which is favorable for seafood sector but vulnerable to storm and tropical depression from the Atlantic Ocean and the East Sea.
In recent years, natural disasters have been developing unpredictably and brutally not only in Vietnam but also in almost countries in the world, including the industrialized ones. Several emerging disasters are causing headache to disaster mitigation managers and experts.
In Vietnam, natural disasters recorded are: flood, inundation, storms, whirlwinds, hailrain, drought, landslide, forest fires, earthquakes, etc. of which floods, storms and whirlwinds are the most brutal. In the 1990s, disasters caused severe losses to the three regions of Vietnam: flooding in Northern Vietnam in 1996; Typhoon Linda in Ca Mau Province in 1997; drought in 1997,1998; flooding in Central Vietnam in 1999; historical flooding in Mekong River Delta in 2000, 2001, 2002; and flash floods in Northern mountainous provinces.
According to statistical data of the Standing Office of the Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control, from 1996 to 2000, disasters caused 6,735 people dead and missing and an economic loss of VND 34,000 billion. Followings are summary losses of typical disasters in recent years:
* Losses caused by Typhoon Linda (November 1997):
- People killed: 3,111
- Boats and ships wrecked: 3,078
- Estimated loss: VND 7,180 billion
* Losses caused by flooding in Central Vietnam (November, December 1999):
- People killed: 749
- Houses collapsed and swept away: 49,094
- Estimated loss: VND 4,000 billion
* Losses caused by flooding in the Mekong River Delta
- The historical flood in 2000 caused 800,000 households submerged, 50,000 households evacuated, 500,000 people provided with emergency relief, 800,000 pupils out of schools in 1 to 3 months, 501 people (mostly children) killed. Hundreds of ha of rice, subsidiary crops, orchards, industrial trees were submerged, destroyed or damaged. Over 1,200 km of National Highway, Provincial Roads, 10,000 km of rural roads, 4,000 bridges and sluices were inundated and damaged. Ten millions of m3 of irrigation canal and dam systems were eroded. Total losses caused by floods in 2000 were estimated at VND 4,2000 billion.
- Large floods occurred in 2001 and 2002. Although peak flood levels at upstream gauging stations on the Mekong River Delta were lower in 2000, long-lasting deep inundation on a large scale happened in the in-land areas. Severe losses caused by flood and inundation in 2001 and 2002 were recorded. In 2001: 407 people killed (321 children); more than 356,032 houses, 5,600 classrooms and 89 clinics submerged; over 27,800 households evacuated; 222,000 households provided with emergency relief; more than 350,000 pupils out of school in 1 to 3 months. Total loss was estimated at VND 1,594 billion. In 2002: 170 people killed (151 children); more than 286,000 houses submerged. Total loss was estimated at VND 457 billion.
B. Disaster mitigation measures in Vietnam
Disaster mitigation is a pressing issue facing Vietnam. Despite the prepared strategy for disaster preparedness and mitigation, we should draw out specified preparedness measures for individual areas based on climatic changes and disaster development. Structure and non-structure measures should be applied with regards to regional manners. However, due to financial constrain and historical issues, the application of preparedness measures is not efficiently effective.
1. Northern Vietnam: Active preparation for flooding
- Afforestation and preservation of upstream protective forest
- Construction of big and medium reservoirs on upstream areas and big rivers
- Strengthening dyke system
- Flood diversion and slowing as necessary
- Flow clearance for flood release
- Enhancement of dyke management and protection
2. Central Vietnam: Active preparation, mitigation, and adaptation
- Consolidation of the canal system
- Construction of outer dyke for early flood prevention
- Construction of multi-purpose reservoir system
- Establishment and enhancement of forecast and warning system
- Strengthening preparedness and response activities of localities
- Building of sea dyke
- Building of evacuation havens and storm shelters
- Mangrove forest plantation
3. Southern Vietnam: Living with flood, aiming at flood control
- Construction of outer dams for early flood preparedness and residences and crops protection;
- People protection works (infrastructure, houses, and schools) for maintaining normal lives of people in inundation situation
On the other hand, non-structure measures are also implemented:
- Strengthen flood and storm preparedness organization from the central to grassroots level to monitor the disaster management activities
- Forecast flood development situation on rivers in support to forecasting activity
- Provide warning to the community on flood situation in each area; measures to be taken by the community in avoidance of unnecessary losses due to passive attitude
- Organize emergency relief for stricken areas during and after flooding to stabilize people's livelihood as soon as possible and get prepared for the forthcoming floods
- Organize training courses and workshops on disaster preparedness and mitigation for disaster management officers
- Improve public awareness by propagating, educating, and developing leaflets on disaster management and mitigation
- Develop research studies to work out disaster mitigation measures
- Prepare solutions based on assumed situations to draw out temporary mitigation measures
- Study on shift of cultivation timing aiming to mitigate losses for crops
- Build master plans to apply collective preparedness, response, adaptation, and evacuation measures in case no constrains of disaster losses can be made
- Sum-up disaster situations and draw out lessons for the coming years
C. Direction for disaster preparedness and mitigation
1. For provinces covered with dykes in the North and North-central Vietnam
Dyke is the main structural measure for flood mitigation. Thus, it is necessary to manage and protect the dyke system.
- Complete the annual dyke repairing works as planned. It is crucial to pay attention to key areas on dykes, dams, sluices which seem unsafe in the flood and storm season.
- Inspect and evaluate the quality of dykes, dams, and sluices; build specified dyke protection measures for key dyke portions on the basis that localities settle actively.
The dyke protection plan should take into account the surpassing of historical flood levels on rivers that the dyke could not withstand to prepare active response measures to secure key economic areas
- For outer dykes, when flood reach designated dangerous level, it is necessary to release floodwater, protect and evacuate people, and appropriately shift the timing of crop cultivation
- Provinces located in flood diversion and slowing should build logistical and evacuation plans to actively diverse flood as needed
2. For Central Coastal Provinces:
Due to the regional topography, climate, and weather, flood and storm preparedness and mitigation in the region cannot be radically implemented. Localities should follow the guidelines of active preparation, mitigation and adaptation to secure safe livelihood for people; protect State's and people's properties; restore production for the purpose of economic development, specified in the Government's Decision No. 668/TTg, dated 22 August 1997, on direction, disaster mitigation measures, and socio-economic development programs for central coastal provinces.
- Complete the restoration and construction of works for irrigation, dykes, and reservoirs as planned
- Strengthen the hydro-meteorological network on big river basins and modernize observation equipment to enhance hydro-meteorological forecast capacity, especially flood and rain forecast.
- Localities should store necessities such as food, medicine, lifebuoys, etc. on the basis of on-the-spot response to flood and storm for each area
- The State should properly invest on equipment, especially engine boats for relief, search, and rescue activities in all weather situations with the support of military forces, police, forces, and the on-the-spot monitoring of the Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control and Provincial Committees for Flood and Storm Control.
- Protect the upstream protective forest in Central Vietnam and build some big reservoirs for flood preparedness in Central Vietnam.
3. For Southern Provinces:
The Mekong River Delta should continue implementing Decision No.99/TTg, dated 09 February 1996, and Decision No. 159/TTg, dated 14 March 1997, by the Government on building water resources works, transportation works, and residences in flood-prone areas. It is necessary to supervise the appropriate crop timing to minimize losses caused by flooding.
Implement the Government's Decision No. 173/2001/QD-TTg, dated 06 November 2001, on socio-economic development in the Mekong River Delta from 2001 to 2005.
Build disaster mitigation measures for this region, focusing on the following matters:
- Organize summing-up seminar to evaluate, draw out lessons from previous flood and storm preparedness and mitigation, assess works done and works remained to build plans and solutions for flood mitigation from central to district and communal levels, especially in key areas. It is necessary to collaborate with ministries, sectors, localities to actively and effectively with the most disadvantageous situations.
- Consolidate the organization of committees for flood and storm control at all levels to get adapting to the new situation; hold training courses, perform preparedness manoeuvres of flood and storm situations; propagate information and knowledge on disaster mitigation to local people.
- Strengthen the communication network and forecasting and warning systems to ensure clear communication in any situation. On-duty work shift should be maintained in the flood and storm season.
- Standing Office of the Provincial Committee for Flood and Storm Control are responsible for advising the Provincial People's Committee in implementing the following activities prior to the flood and storm season:
a. In flood-prone areas:
Sum-up, draw out lessons on response to large flooding in several years to build an effective preparedness and mitigation plan in case of large flood occurrences. Work out plans for avoiding floods in production and making full use of it. Actively control floods all over the year in the shallowly inundated areas and logistical preparation for the deeply inundated areas. Follow the "live with flood" policy to secure the safety of residents and facilitate socio-economic development, rural development, and environmental protection in the flood-affected areas in the Mekong River Delta. Organize collective kindergartens for childcare in the flood-affected areas.
b. In coastal areas:
Build plans to response to the worst possible situation of flooding, storm, and storm surges coming together. Active measures for preparedness and mitigation should be implemented to minimize losses. Patrol should be organized to observe, protect, and settle sudden incidences at sea dyke and estuary dyke portions. Build and strengthen salt-prevention dykes and sea dykes upon the approved plans and criteria. Propagate measures for preparing for storms, spring tides, storm surges, and northeast wind. It is essential to manage fishermen in the flood and storm season.
c. Localities of canal and river erosion
It is necessary to evacuate residents and properties out of disaster-prone areas before the erosions happen.
d. East of Southern Provinces
It is crucial to protect reservoirs and maintain operational procedures as stipulated by authorities. All damaged places should be repaired before the forthcoming flood and storm season.
Localities should plan to store necessities, especially foods, burning materials, and medicines; perform preparedness manoeuvres on flood and storm preparedness and mitigation, search and rescue activities; and mobilize all forces in the disaster-prone catchments to implement the four on-the-spot procedures to response to and rehabilitate flood aftermath.
4. For mountainous and the Central Highlands Provinces:
- Closely monitor the reforestation and forest protection, especially upstream protective forests
- Protect residents on riverside and streamside from flash flood.
- Strictly manage resource exploitation to take precaution of erosion
- Work out plans to secure the safety of reservoirs and people living on the downstream areas
- Isolated areas should store necessities, food, medicines, burning materials, etc. to survive in flood-stricken time
- Strengthen the propagation of knowledge on disaster management and mitigation as well as possible losses caused by disasters so that people can actively prepare for and respond to disaster and minimize disaster losses.
(English translation prepared by Ms. Nguyen Thu Bach - DMU)