He made the statement in an interview with Vietnam News Agency on the sidelines of a conference in Hanoi on April 17 on natural disaster prevention and search and rescue work.
During the severe drought in Vietnam last year, the UN worked with the Vietnamese Government and the Central Steering Committee on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control to implement an emergency response plan for humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable population groups in the 18 hardest-hit localities, he said.
With substantial budget support from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund along with the Japanese and the Republic of Korea’s governments, the Asian Development Bank and the European Commission and other sources, nearly 53% of the total requirement of US$48.5 million was mobilised to aid the high-risk groups, including 240,000 women and 113,000 children.
The UN also helped Vietnam address demand for clean water, health and nutrition, and food security, he said, adding that the Vietnamese Government and UN issued a Drought Recovery Plan in October 2016, estimating recovery needs for 2017 at US$368 million.
The UN is willing to assist Vietnam in risk management from central to local levels as well as building legal mechanisms, policies, and financial mechanisms at all levels, and maintaining transparency and accountability, he said.
Preparation for recovering after emergencies plays a crucial role in building national capacity to recover after natural disasters, he said.
He noted that under the UN One Strategic Plan 2017 – 2021, which is expected to be signed soon by Vietnam, the UN established a joint working group on disaster risk mitigation and resilience enhancement. The group brings together 10 UN agencies with experiences and global network to support Vietnam’s efforts.
Kamal Malhotra recognised Vietnam’s commitment to disaster risk management in the National Development Programme.
Stronger investment in upgrading the disaster risk management system, improving forecasting and warning efficiency and enhancing recovery capacity of basic public services at local level will help save expenses and people in the future, he said.
He suggested integrating risk management into socio-economic development plans and national target programmes, increasing information exchanges between ministries and departments and paying attention to vulnerable groups like women and children.
Vietnam’s establishment of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Control is a step in the right direction, he said.
He reiterated the UN commitment to closely working with the Vietnamese Government to speed up the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals via implementing the One Strategic Plan.
Vietnam loses over one percent of gross domestic product (GDP) annually due to natural disasters. The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions report estimated that expenses for climate change adaptation activities could make up up to three percent of GDP by 2030.