Viet Nam

Viet Nam and donors assess impacts of water disaster on the poor

Ho Chi Minh City 21 January 2003: The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) is holding a three day workshop in Ho Chi Minh City to assess the impacts of natural disasters, including floods and droughts, on the Poor and the links of disaster to poverty and gender inequality.
The workshop is organized under the Disaster Mitigation project, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) with the participation of representatives from provinces and a number of Non Governmental Organizations.

The meeting focuses on reviewing and understanding the effectiveness of the Government's Living with Floods programs in the Mekong River at the province, district, commune and grassroots levels.

Floods -- which occurred during each of the last three years in the Mekong Delta- together with other natural calamities, have caused huge losses in both human and material terms. As a consequence, the Vietnamese people are increasingly vulnerable to natural disasters.

"These shocks can erase decades of development and further entrench poverty and inequality. They tell us how important it is to have appropriate structure and capacity to cope with different types of disasters in a disaster prone country like Viet Nam" says Ms. Nguyen Ngoc Ly, Head of the UNDP Sustainable Development Cluster.

The Second National Strategy for Disaster Mitigation in Viet Nam 2001-2010, prepared by the MARD, with the support from UNDP, addresses for the first time disaster in a broader development context and take into account the link between disasters and poverty reduction, environment management and sustainable and equitable development.

Preventing and minimizing risks and relieving the effects of disasters are essential components of this strategy. Experts note that although the warning system for natural disaster is quite strong, and the delivery of emergency relief assistance is relatively efficient, there is still a need for an adequate rehabilitation system that could restore the people's livelihoods, and rehabilitate social services and infrastructure.

At the meeting, several participants highlighted the need for a social security strategy including a Contingency Fund for Disaster Recovery to relieve the effects of disasters on the poor. This proposal is supported by many members of the Natural Disaster Mitigation Partnership, which was established in 2001 and composed of Government agencies and donors. With an initial funding of around $ 72 million, of which $ 40 million has been committed by donors, the Partnership includes many cross-sector projects, from resettlement to strengthening of hydraulic works to developing a flood roadmap with early warning systems.

The workshop is expected to provide inputs for Viet Nam's participation in the World Water Forum to be organized in March in Kyoto, Japan. At this World Forum, new approaches in the management of water issues including floods and other water disasters will be discussed to ensure safety to people, particularly the poor women.

For further information, please contact Hoang Tuan Dung, 9421495 (EXT: 159)