US Government Helps to Mitigate Flood Damage in Central Viet Nam

08 Feb 2001

HA NOI - To help minimize the annual loss of life and property caused by natural disasters in central Viet Nam, the Government of the United States - through its Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance - has granted nearly US$1 million to support the ongoing Government and UNDP project, Support to the Disaster Management System in Viet Nam.

"This additional contribution to the project supports the new programme of the Consultative Group of Donor Countries to Viet Nam to develop, in partnership with the Government, a well integrated framework to mitigate natural disasters in Viet Nam's central provinces," said Mr Edouard Wattez, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative. "The US fund will help implement a number of initiatives which were recognized as having the highest priority and great potential to mitigate natural disasters in the region."

The US Ambassador to Viet Nam, Mr Pete Peterson, echoed these sentiments. "After witnessing the terrible loss of life and physical damage flooding has caused in Viet Nam in recent years, we believe it essential that the United States participates in this multi-partner initiative," said Ambassador Peterson. The grant is an important demonstration of the growing development assistance program being implemented by the US Agency for International Development in Viet Nam, according to Peterson. "This disaster mitigation effort will both help prevent the human suffering caused by flooding and safeguard the investments Viet Nam is making in future economic growth in the central region," he noted.

During the four-year project, natural disaster zoning maps will be prepared to identify areas and populations most at risk of flooding in the seven central provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh. The mapping will show areas that are safe from flooding, locations where flood refuge buildings are needed, and areas where disaster warning is most urgently required.

In addition, flood alert systems will be installed on the river basins in the region most prone to flash floods. These systems will provide up to twelve hours advance warning of imminent flash flooding, to help protect lives, property and livelihoods. One of the systems will be installed in the Perfume (Huong) River Basin, to protect the city of Hue.

In order to disseminate disaster warnings to the largest number of people in the disaster prone areas of Viet Nam, a computer graphics based disaster warning and severe storm information system will be installed for the national television network. This will provide real time information, warnings and disaster preparedness training for the entire population of Viet Nam.

"To ensure effective utilization of the new technologies provided by this project, training will be provided for local disaster officials and grass roots communities," said Mr Wattez. "Appropriate materials will also be provided to this effect."

The original project, jointly funded by UNDP and the European Community Humanitarian Office, has been working since June 1998 to establish strategies for disaster preparedness, prevention, and mitigation in Viet Nam. The project has successfully increased the national capacity to respond to natural disasters; and trained relevant local officials to conduct training on disaster preparedness for school children in selected provinces.

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