Disaster Vulnerability: Snapshot of Vietnam

Give2Asia and the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) have partnered to connect private sector philanthropy to effective community-based programs that mitigate disasters in Asia’s most vulnerable countries. This post comes as the fifth in a series of six outlining the vulnerability of countries selected for the program. Learn more about the NGO Disaster Preparedness Program  or read more about Vietnam’s vulnerability to disasters.

Approximately 70 percent of the Vietnam’s population is concentrated in floodplains and coastal areas, and therefore subsist mostly on fishing and agriculture. Given this dependency on natural resources, floods and storms are the most destructive forces in Vietnam, resulting in the highest number of fatalities and the greatest economic damage. Up to 80-90 percent of Vietnam’s population is vulnerable to storms, floods constitute 37 percent of all disasters, and drought can reduce food productivity by 20 to 30 percent. Given as such, Vietnam faces a serious threat towards its people’s livelihoods and issues of food security. Vietnam’s vulnerability is further exacerbated by the destruction of mangrove forests for aquaculture and other forms of environmental degradation caused by industries and manufacturers. The urban population is affected by natural disasters due to close proximity to coastal areas and floodplains.

Disaster risk management and reduction is crucial when it comes to Vietnam’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs). SMEs make up 90 percent of the country’s business, employ nearly 80 percent of the population, and produce over 40 percent of national GDP. 46 percent of SMEs have yet to develop plans for disaster risk management. As a result, many SMEs remain at high risk from natural hazards. Thus, helping small and medium-sized enterprises form resiliency and recovery plans prior to disaster can greatly reduce the uncertainty about supply, food chains, livelihood and economic loss that typically accompany disasters.

Many communities recognize the need to improve their housing structure to prevent floods and resist storms by raising the floors and using storm-resistant materials, but lack the financial resources and the knowledge to carry out risk reduction efforts.  Approximately 40-50 NGOs have been working in Vietnam to educate local communities about climate change adaptation and implement disaster risk reduction projects, especially flood-related disasters. Many NGOs are using bottom-up approaches by empowering community members to encourage cooperation between sectors and strengthen local institutions. However, there are limitations in the implementation due to a disconnect between government agencies and NGOs, and insufficient materials and funds. Furthermore, the ministries posses a limited staff which hampers their ability to readily assess the needs and undertake the implementation process. Most attention is given to floods and not enough efforts are made to mitigate risks from other disasters.

Opportunities for donors include:

  • Community-based disaster risk management trainings, or Community-managed disaster risk reduction trainings
  • Improving drainage systems and waste management in flood prone areas
  • Supporting small to medium size enterprises with preparedness and resiliency planning
  • Training fishers and farmers in climate smart and disaster resistant practices and techniques.