Background: During the first two weeks of November 1999, six provinces in central Vietnam (Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, and Sing Dinh), as well as the city of Da Nang, experienced the heaviest rainfall and flooding to hit the region in 40 years. Then, in the first week of December, heavy rainfall again hit the region, leading to even more severe flooding in the central provinces. The second flood disaster affected the provinces of Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, and Khanh Hoa. Quang Nam and Quang Ngai, two of the poorest provinces, were worst hit.
As of December 11, the Government of Vietnam (GVN) reports 120 deaths, 4 missing persons, 203 injuries, and 400,000 people in need of relief assistance as a result of the second flood disaster. According to the GVN, early-December flooding also damaged 402,113 houses, 677 schools, 100 clinics, 36,086 roads, and 16,760 dikes. In addition, the flooding destroyed 7,121 houses, 453 bridges, 135 classrooms, 19 clinics, 36,044 shrimp and fish ponds, and 37,526 hectares of cropland.
As of November 14, the GVN reported the following statistics for loss of life and property associated with the first flood disaster: 622 deaths, 70 missing persons, over one million people in need of relief assistance, at least 470,493 households affected, 41,846 homes destroyed, 870,000 homes damaged, 94,000 classrooms destroyed, 510 clinics damaged, 66,308 hectares of rice fields and 30,700 hectares of other farmland inundated with water, 205,000 metric tons (MT) of food lost, 3,117 hectares of shrimp and fish farms destroyed, 1,470 bridges destroyed, and 25,000 cattle killed.
Areas affected by the first flood had just begun to recover, rebuild damaged infrastructure, and replant crops when the second flood hit the region.
Although flood waters are beginning to subside, many areas remain inundated.
Preliminary estimates, following the early-November flooding, put total damages at $265 million (source: the Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control), and total economic losses at $488 million (source: the Disaster Management Unit, GVN).
On December 13, the local chapter of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) reported the need for an additional $700,000 to assist flood victims from the early-December flooding.
As of December 14, the IFRC had spent approximately $4.3 million to respond to cumulative flood needs in Vietnam.
IFRC is implementing a three-phase relief and reconstruction plan. Phase I activities will include the purchase and distribution of food, water, plastic sheeting, and blankets. Phase two funding will include the purchase of at least 50,000 household kits, each containing two blankets, one mosquito net, and cooking utensils. Phase III activities will include the reconstruction of houses using flood-resistant construction techniques.
Through donor funding, IFRC hopes to build a total of 22,500 flood resistant dwellings. USAID/OFDA funding will assist in this effort (see below for more detail). Donors will provide funding for concrete foundations, steel frames, and wind-resistant roofing. The beneficiaries will be responsible for constructing the walls, windows, and doors of the housing units.
Because many of the same areas were hit by the early-November and early-December floods, donor assistance for the two events is combined. The bullets below describe assistance provided in response to the first flood disaster; however, much of this assistance is helping victims of the second flood disaster.
According to local media reports, the GVN is distributing 33,000 MT of food from national stockpiles to help meet the food requirements of flood victims. Additionally, local media sources state that the GVN will provide $36,000,000 in preferential bank loans to help flood victims restore their livelihoods.
The World Food Program (WFP) is providing an emergency shipment of 760 MT of rice to the Vietnam Red Cross (VRC) for distribution to 42,000 beneficiaries.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has allocated $200,000 for logistical support, relief coordination, and communications. The UNDP also is supporting communications, damage and needs assessments, and monitoring of commodity distributions.
U.S. Government Flood Relief Assistance:
U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Douglass B. Peterson issued a disaster declaration on November 4, 1999 in response to the early-November flooding. USAID/OFDA responded immediately by providing $25,000 through the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi to IFRC and the UNDP for the provision of blankets, plastic sheeting, and water purification tablets and/or equipment to meet the needs of the most affected.
In response to the early-November disaster declaration, USAID/OFDA also provided $450,000 to IFRC in support of its preliminary appeal for Vietnam. Of this funding, USAID/OFDA provided $60,000 for the purchase and distribution of 5,000 household kits (containing blankets, mosquito nets, cooking utensils, and soap) and $390,000 for the construction of approximately 2,727 concrete foundations for flood-resistant homes.
In addition, USAID/OFDA provided 160 rolls of plastic sheeting (enough to shelter 8,000 flood victims), 2,400 blankets, and 3,200 five-gallon water jugs, valued at $54,960, through the U.S. Embassy to the Vietnam Red Cross and IFRC. These relief supplies were transported from Guam to the city of Hue on November 11 via two U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) C-130 aircraft, at an estimated cost of $60,000.
On December 8, 1999, U.S. Charge d'Affaires Dennis G. Harter issued a second disaster declaration for Vietnam in response to additional flooding in the central provinces. USAID/OFDA responded immediately to this disaster declaration by providing $25,000 to the U.S. Embassy for the local procurement of urgently needed household supplies.
On December 15, USAID/OFDA received a request for an additional $200,000 in assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam to assist IFRC in building approximately 1,400 concrete foundations for flood-resistant homes. These funds will be added to the $450,000 grant to IFRC issued in response to the first flood disaster, thereby raising total USG contributions to IFRC's appeal to $650,000.
A DOD medical team began assessing health care needs in the affected areas on December 9. The results of this assessment will be forthcoming.
Total USG Assistance:
Initial declaration: $529,960
Second declaration: $225,000
TOTAL USG ASSISTANCE: $814,960
*This figure is an estimate.
Ongoing U.S. Government Disaster Mitigation Assistance:
Prior to the onset of this disaster, USAID/OFDA has supported technical assistance programs to help the GVN build capacities to mitigate flood disasters in vulnerable areas of Vietnam. In September 1999, USAID/OFDA provided $114,000 for two technical assistance programs. This funding includes $64,000 to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/ National Weather Service (NOAA/NWS) in support of the development of an implementation plan for a Red River flood forecasting and early warning system. It also includes $50,000 in funding to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for the provision of dam construction technical assistance to the GVN. In collaboration with the U.S. Embassy, USAID/OFDA and USAID's Asia and Near East Bureau are reviewing other flood mitigation projects for implementation in Vietnam.