Resilient houses help people change their lives

Story and photo: UNDP Viet Nam/Trina Loken

Ms. Nguyen Thi Mun, 77 years old, lives in Binh Chanh commune, Binh Son district in Quang Ngai. Over the past years, life has been particularly tough. Her husband, Mr. Vo Khanh, 82 years old, has been sick and is currently in hospital. The family makes very little income and every time there is a storm, parts of the house fall down.

Highlights

  • The family makes very little income and every time there is a storm, parts of the house fall down.
  • The mezzanine level is a crucial element of the project’s storm and flood-resilient housing design. Project houses must have mezzanines that are higher than the maximum flood level in the areas in which they are constructed and have an area of at least 10m2.

Unfortunately, due to its coastal location, Binh Chanh commune is prone to storms and flooding. Every time the water rises, families are displaced. “Whenever there’s flooding, the commune authorities come to pick me up by boat, taking me to a highland area, and give me instant noodles for food,” Mun said. She has to stay there until the water – which usually reaches 1.5 meters high – withdraws a few days later.

While her life has been protected with this assistance from the commune, her home and possessions have still been damaged over the years.

So, when Mun and her husband heard about a new Government project – supported by the UN Development Programme and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) – providing resilient housing, they immediately applied at their local commune office. “We do not have enough money to build a new house on our own, so we need support from the Government and donors. We were incredibly happy when we heard about the project’s housing programme,” Mun recounted.

Mun looks forward to their new home being finished. She believes her circumstances will be different when extreme weather hits: “I can go up to the mezzanine floor and stay there during storms and floods and keep my valuables and food safe. I will be able to go up by myself because the stairs will have a railing I can hold onto. I will bring everything I need up there, including water, clothing, rice, other food, and a small gas stove so that I can stay there comfortably.”

The mezzanine level is a crucial element of the project’s storm and flood-resilient housing design. Project houses must have mezzanines that are higher than the maximum flood level in the areas in which they are constructed and have an area of at least 10m2. All project houses will have solid, reinforced structures made with high quality materials, starting with strong foundations. Already, during the construction of her new house, Mun’s neighbors had been coming to see what was going on, wishing to build similar kinds of houses through the project later on.

Although past storms and flooding have not been easy for Mun and others in her community with similar vulnerabilities, she is highly optimistic about the future: “I am extremely grateful for the support and happy about participating in the program. The program is very important for the beneficiaries and will help people change their lives. I can live longer because of it… maybe even 10 years more!”

Seventy-seven poor households in Quang Ngai province have been the first to receive housing support from the GCF-supported project, “Improving resilience of vulnerable coastal communities to climate change related impacts in Viet Nam.”

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