Viet Nam: Floods and storm appeal No. 23/00 operations update No. 5

Launched on 13 September 2000 for CHF 338,764 for 3 months. Budget increased to CHF 9,036,180 (December 2000); Program extension to 30 November 2001
DREF Allocated: CHF 100,000

Beneficiaries: 350,000

Period covered: 20 November 2000 - 31 October 2001; Last Operations Update (no. 4) issued on 10 May, 2001

"At a Glance"

Appeal coverage: 106.8%
Related Appeals: 01.46/2001 - Vietnam Annual Appeal 2001
Outstanding needs: None
Update/Summary: Phase I and Phase II of the operation have been successfully completed within the anticipated time frame. Not only has appropriate assistance been provided to the beneficiaries, but the Vietnamese National Red Cross (VNRC) has demonstrated it's growing competency by managing an effective relief operation. Phase III, which is intended to contribute to mitigating the effects of future disasters, has been delayed due to the devastating floods of 2001 but will mostly be completed by late November 2001 (some components of Phase III will be integrated into the longer term national Disaster Preparedness programme).

Operational Developments

Between July and November 2000, over 500 sq. kilometers of the Mekong Delta, in the south of Vietnam, were flooded. They were the worst floods in 60 years, affecting 5 million of some of the most impoverished people in Vietnam. Enormous economic loss was sustained and the humanitarian impact of the floods was immense, resulting in over 480 deaths. More than half a million people were evacuated, several times due to the unpredictability of the peak flood levels. Whilst flood levels began to recede in November 2000 their effects, especially in remote rural areas became more noticeable. Infrastructure and public buildings, which sustained considerable damage during the floods were subsequently repaired through Government agencies and international support. A major development project has been underway to strengthen bridges and dykes and to raise the levels of roads. These measures should minimize the effects of future floods. Some farmers however, have not been able to recover from their financial losses sustained during the floods and now face new floods in the same area..

Flood levels started to rise again in 2001 when Typhoon Durian hit the northern province of Quang Ninh on 2nd July, followed by heavy, prolonged rainfall which resulted in flash floods and landslides. Flood water levels in subsequent months have risen above Alarm level III and the situation is currently being closely monitored (for more information on the floods in 2001 please refer to the latest Information Bulletin on the Federation's web site and the VNRC national Appeal).

Red Cross and Red Crescent action

The VNRC, supported by the Federation, have played a key role from the outset of the floods. A first and second phase to save and sustain life have been completed, and a third phase of rehabilitation is currently ongoing (this third phase has been delayed due to the floods in 2001).

Relief - Phase I & Phase II

Phase I - Emergency rescue and immediate relief - where Red Cross volunteer "shock brigades" worked alongside other agencies to evacuate families from their homes to safer ground. The Federation Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) complemented VNRC's own reserves to provide emergency shelter and short term food assistance to 2,000 families in the most affected provinces of An Giang, Dong Thap and Long An.

Phase II - Meeting medium term needs, including the distribution of rice (3,515 MT), plastic sheeting (19,600), mosquito nets (32,000), soap (94,000) and water purification kits (36,200), family fishing boats (4,000) and fishing nets (4,000) to ensure food and income supplements, together with provision of clean water to families remaining on dykes. Rehabilitation - Phase III

Phase III - The third phase, which includes building 3,000 safer flood resistant houses, the provision of three clinic boats and the initialization of a Disaster Preparedness programme for all twelve Mekong Delta provinces, is currently being implemented. The housing programme has already been completed, while the clinic boats are being built and the DP programme is underway (the DP programme will be extended beyond the period of this Appeal with separate funding).

Housing Programme

Objective: provision of 3,000 houses made of steel frames, built on six steel piers to vulnerable households.

Achievements: The 3,000 houses provided to vulnerable households are finished and most are occupied (following a selection process involving the Red Cross local authorities). People can stay during the flood season in these houses. They were readily accepted and have already proven their worth as they have been inundated by current flooding. Unlike last year these beneficiaries have not had to evacuate.

Constraints: In order to maximize the number of beneficiaries, families were provided with a package comprising of only a steel frame and roof. The families were expected, where possible, to complete the house using locally available materials for the walls, etc.

Some households however, were too poor to complete their homes and the Red Cross has supported 362 households (i.e. approximately 10 % of the number total number of households) to enable them to complete their houses. Each household received between $13 - $54 (about $18k in total).

The American Red Cross provided a Delegate, for four months, to help oversee the implementation of the programme with the VNRC. The main activities undertaken included ensuring the correct selection of households, proper training of the VNRC staff and volunteers, that the houses were built to the best standard and that those people who were unable to provide walls and floors were given assistance to do so. The Delegate further developed the relations between the VNRC, the Federation and donors.

School replacement project

The school reconstruction programme (reported on in previous Operations Updates) has also been undertaken simultaneously with the housing programme. It has not however, been either initiated, nor funded through this Appeal. Whilst progress has been slow (due to technical difficulties), over 60 schools have now been completed.

Mobile medical service boats project

Objective: provision of three multipurpose medical/emergency boats to provide community based health/First Aid, disaster preparedness equipment/materials as well as a place to undertake training of Red Cross and other staff/volunteers in the three worst affected provinces of Long An, Dong Thap and An Giang.

Achievements: The first boat was launched and handed over to the Dong Thap Provincial Red Cross. The boats are made from fibreglass so are durable and have a long guarantee. They have onboard facilities to make clean drinking water, are cheap to run, light, maneuverable, and can be used as mobile DP centers. It is hoped that these boats will provide an outreach service by the Red Cross to remote communities for many years. The other 2 boats are currently being fully equipped before being handed over to VNRC.

Constraints: There were some delays in manufacturing the boats as the same manufacturer had also been tasked with producing five boats for UNICEF.

These boats are being supported by a specific grant from the Swiss government's SDC office. Negotiations are underway with Operation Smile who want to use the boats, in conjunction with the Red Cross to do dental work and repair cleft palates in normally inaccessible areas of the Mekong basin.

Disaster Preparedness project

Objective: Training in disaster management for Provincial Trainers selected from 12 Mekong Delta provinces (approx. 40 persons); provision of essential communication/disaster preparedness/response equipment and materials; pilot mitigation measures; training of school teachers/primary school children/households in disaster preparedness, etc.

Achievements: Twelve fax machines were provided to Provincial Red Cross Chapters. Additionally a three week training programme for over 40 Provincial Trainers selected from 12 Mekong Delta provinces was completed at the end of September. The training of approximately 2,500 primary school teachers and 120,000 Grade 4 and 5 children will start at the beginning of the new school term. New material including material specifically designed for children (produced in conjunction with UNICEF), is also being developed and will be distributed later in the year.

The DP Project (part supported by AusAID) dovetails with the extensive countrywide Disaster Preparedness Programme undertaken in the 21 most disaster prone provinces. Constraints: This project started later than anticipated due to staff involvement in the large scale flood response operations undertaken by the Red Cross in many of the Mekong provinces.

Federation Delegation

The housing program receives support from the Federation Office based in the VNRC Representative Office in Ho Chi Minh City. The following staff have been involved in the operation:

Expats:

one Project Manager
one Deputy Project Manager
two Technical Advisors
one American Delegate

Local staff:

five Programme Officers
three drivers with three cars

The DP project also receives direct support in programme implementation from the Federation Office in Hanoi.

Expats:

one DP Delegate

Local staff:

two DP Programme Officers
two office assistants

Coordination and Management

In the final phase, the Federation, VNRC and the Red Cross chapters continue to have good co-operation in project implementation. There has been excellent co-operation with the Peoples Committees in each province. They have not only assisted in co-ordinating the selection of beneficiary households, but also in the identification of land in safe areas, the provision of land use documents and the granting of the land for the construction of safer houses.

Outstanding needs

The Appeal received a good response from the donor community and has been conducted with minimal divergence from the anticipated plan. The housing project has been completed with all 3,000 houses constructed. One boat has already been provided for use and the others are nearing completion. The DP program is more long term with a strong focus on training, it will continue for the planned two year period and will continue beyond the life of this Emergency Operation. While there are no outstanding needs, in order to complete Phase 3, the operation will be extended until 30 November 2001. The delay in the operation has largely resulted from the demands placed on VNRC by the floods in 2001 (for further detail of this operation please see an Appeal launched in Vietnam by the Vietnamese Red Cross).

Financial Update

In line with specified budget lines, procurement is ongoing for several items such as; plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, household kits and equipment for Red Cross branches. As intended, these items will provide continued assistance to those affected by the flood waters in 2000 and will also be utilized to minimize the effect of current and future floods in these disaster prone areas.

Given the strong response to the Appeal, it is expected that the operation will close with a small positive balance. Recommendations will be made in the coming weeks as to how best to use this balance to further support the development of VNRC and to reduce the vulnerability of the population to similar disasters. Further detail will be made available to the appropriate donors as the strategy is developed.

Hiroshi Higashuira
Head
Asia and Pacific Department

Peter Rees-Gildea
Head a.i.
Relationship Management Department

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