Major storms, flood events and other natural hazards result in annual economic losses equivalent to between 1 and 1.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Infrastructure and people are increasingly concentrated in vulnerable areas such as floodplains and coastal areas, suggesting that disaster-related losses will increase in the future. Seventy percent of Vietnamese people are estimated to be exposed to risks from multiple hazards—specifically in rural communities where livelihoods are threatened by natural hazards every year.
Rural communities are at particular risk from disasters. The rural poor are more likely to reside in hazardous locations and in substandard housing. Lacking financial means, they are less able to cope with disaster. Coping mechanisms include taking high-interest loans, sending children to work or reducing expenditures in health and food.
To help break this cycle and to lessen the negative impacts of disasters on poverty reduction in rural communities, the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and the World Bank provide technical support and funding to the Vietnamese government to implement its strategy on Community-Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM).
A holistic approach is being taken to tackle the challenges of natural hazards in rural commu-nities:
- First, communities have been trained to develop their own preparedness strategies and to integrate disaster risk management (DRM) into their communes’ socio-economic development plans.
- Second, rural roads and irrigation infrastructure—both lifelines for rural communities—are being made more resilient by implementing new engineering standards.
- Third, livelihoods in poor households are being enhanced, for example, through an Agricultural Risk Management Information System (ARMIS). The system assists farmers in improving productivity and enhancing resilience to droughts, floods, erosion, heat and water stress. ARMIS helps farmers to optimize their decisions on crop selection and crop management by providing information on pest control, disease treatments, nutrient management, water conservation, planting dates and cropping patterns.
- Fourth, structural risk reduction measures are implemented, including dams, reservoirs and evacuation bridges.
- The Vietnam government adapted its approach to disaster risk management to include Community-based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM).
- The World Bank pilot on CBDRM has been so successful that the Vietnam government based its US$500 million National CBDRM Program on the piloted model and announced it would replicate the program in 6,000 communes.
- The strategies used and the documents produced under the World Bank project have become part of Vietnam’s National CBDRM Program.
- Flood and storm control infrastructure was constructed and rehabilitated.
- Government developed the capacity to strategically implement structural investments for disaster mitigation.
- 12 provinces prepared the integrated National Disaster Risk Management Investment Plans.
- Provincial agencies and communes now have the capability to plan for and respond to disasters.
- 30 communes implemented structural measures, including multi-purpose evacuation centers and drainage canals, along with non-structural measures, such as development Safer Commune Plans and evacuation drills.
- The project communes received training and equipment for the early warning system.
- An awareness campaign that ran for about 18 months included television broadcasting on CBDRM best practices and a photo contest.
- Guidelines and action plans are being produced to build disaster-proof roads and irrigation structures, based on new standards.
- Disaster risk management was mainstreamed into the World Bank’s rural portfolio, for example into the Northern Mountains Rural Poverty Project II, which incorporates disaster resilience indicators.
Since 2006, the World Bank has been implementing the National Disaster Risk Management Project with a concessional credit of US$160 million. The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery provided grants in the amount of US$4.4 million for studies that sparked innovations and translated global good practice to local circumstances in Vietnam.
Partners include the U.N. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and AusAID. The community-based DRM projects are executed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE).
Toward the Future
The World Bank will continue supporting the Vietnamese government via US$150 million additional funding for disaster risk management in rural areas. This will support the improvement of real-time weather forecasting for rural villages and the expansion of the CBDRM program to more communities. In addition, the construction of flood and storm protection infrastructure will be prioritized within selected river basins.
Innovative features are being incorporated and information-management tools that promote transparency, accountability and citizen participation are being piloted: for example, the management-information system (MIS), is a cell phone-based project monitoring tool that allows communes to report progress and compare the status of project implementation among communes.