|UNDP Deputy Country Director Akiko Fujii
Speaking at a meeting to mark International Day of Disaster Reduction (October 13) and an international symposium themed “Risk Management for Low Lands”, Fujii, who is also Vice-Chair of the UN Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience Joint Results Group, cited the 2018 Global Climate Risk Index statistics as saying that Vietnam ranks among the top 10 countries affected by the impacts of natural disasters.
Since the 1970s, natural disasters have caused more than 500 deaths annually in Vietnam and cost more than 1.5 percent of the country’s GDP in economic losses, she said, adding that its nationally-determined climate change contribution highlights that these costs could well rise to 3-5 percent of GDP by 2030.
“With over 8 million USD from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund from 2016 to 2018, the UN in Vietnam was able to join the Government, the Vietnam Red Cross Society, and non-governmental organisations to assist more than half a million people in addressing urgent and life-saving requirements of water and sanitation, health, nutrition, food security, and shelter,” she said.
The UN and its humanitarian partners are working with Vietnam to implement lessons learned and improve the delivery of assistance by reinforcing the coordination frameworks for Disaster Response Management, such as implementing rapid, detailed Post-Disaster Needs Assessment, to enable a complete disaster recovery framework, she added.
Nguyen Truong Son, Deputy General Director of the Vietnam Disaster Management Authority under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that since the beginning of this year, heavy downpours have caused flash floods and serious landslides in northern mountainous and central regions, leaving 175 dead and missing. Economic losses are estimated at over 12.35 trillion VND (527.1 million USD).
The UN chose “Reducing Economic Losses” as the theme of this year’s International Day of Disaster Reduction, Son said, adding that this is also one of the seven global targets of the Sendai Framework which Vietnam is exerting its efforts to implement.
At the meeting and symposium, delegates pointed out some of the reasons for serious disaster-caused losses in Vietnam, including rapid urbanisation, inappropriate use of natural resources, ineffective land planning, and the neglectful and subjective attitudes of people in flood areas.
Laurent Umans, First Secretary of Water and Climate Change at the Dutch Embassy in Vietnam, said that disasters are unavoidable, but people can work to prevent them from being a major calamity.
Umans stated that although one-third of the Netherlands’ area lies under sea level, the country has not suffered from any major floods since 1953.
The Netherlands is willing to share its experience and specific solutions suitable for each Vietnamese locality, he affirmed.
Delegates stressed the need for Vietnam to carry out close policies in land planning and organise a more suitable programme for housing arrangement.
It is essential to prohibit people from building homes on areas at high risk of landslides and to quickly evacuate residents in areas which show signs of being affected by landslides, they suggested.