The Mekong region - consisting of Vietnam, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) and Cambodia - is frequently affected by natural disasters, especially floods, droughts, and typhoons. With the vast majority of the population in the three countries largely relying on agriculture, people’s livelihoods are often damaged by recurrent hazards and irregular seasonal patterns. The European Union funds projects that focus on enhancing communities’ resilience and disaster preparedness capacities. It also supports the delivery of emergency relief items such as housing repair kits, hygiene kits, and drinking water.
What are the needs?
In Cambodia, 90 percent of the country’s poor live in rural areas, where the seasonal monsoon rains and the resulting floods can cause widespread destruction. In neighbouring Lao PDR, vulnerability to natural hazards has increased as a result of illegal logging and deforestation. Disasters take place against the background of widespread poverty, especially in rural and inaccessible mountain areas. Most recently, in August 2016, a series of torrential downpours triggered floods in many parts of the country. The floods affected almost 20 000 people, damaged houses, and left huge swathes of agricultural lands inundated.
With its long coastline, cyclones and tropical storms are a regular occurrence in Vietnam. While local capacity to withstand and respond to natural disasters has been substantially enhanced in the last decade, additional support is sometimes required when large-scale disasters strike.
Storms, droughts, and landslides often leave local communities in need of help, as they destroy their homes and livelihoods. Outbreaks of tropical diseases such as dengue and malaria put an additional strain on local health services. Access to the affected populations can sometimes represent an additional challenge in remote areas with inadequate and damaged infrastructure.