UN, Australia and New Zealand Help Flood Victims in Central Viet Nam
Ha Noi -The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) will provide an emergency grant of US$80,000 through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Disaster Management Team in Viet Nam (UNDMT) to assist the flood victims in central provinces. Australia and New Zealand also pledged about US$200,000 to the relief effort.
The announcement was made by OCHA Deputy Director, Mr. Gerhard Putman-Cramer, while he was on a visit to Viet Nam from 8-11 November, aiming to improve Viet Nam’s capacity to respond to disasters.
Mr. Putman-Cramer has discussed the floods situation and immediate rehabilitation efforts with relevant Government agencies and members of the UNDMT and the Disaster Management Working Group, made up of UN agencies, Donors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). He praised the Group for its recent initiative to establish a Disaster Needs Joint Assessment Team that has played a significant role to help OCHA and Donors to identify the most urgent needs of the flood victims. OCHA, in close collaboration with UNDP, conducted a training programme for this Joint Assessment Team earlier this year to improve the Team’s skills in carrying out disaster needs assessments.
As recommended by the Joint Assessment, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) will provide US$143,000 through UNDP and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) for immediate rehabilitation of more than 200 collapsed houses in Quang Ngai province. Together with approximately 120 houses that will be rehabilitated with OCHA support, this emergency relief will help ensure that thousands of people’s lives and homes will not be further threatened by more floods predicted to reoccur in December this year. The New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID), through CARE International (CARE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will also assist farmers in Binh Dinh Province with US$60,000 worth of rice and vegetable seeds, to be implemented by CARE with support from the FAO to revive damaged crops.
Recently, the water levels of rivers in central Viet Nam reached the peak of historic floods of 1999 with water rising up to 2.08 metres above Alarm level III. As many as 52 people were killed, and 29 injured, in five floods-affected central provinces. Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh were the worst hit provinces with a death toll of 46. Over 40,000 houses were submerged, leaving thousands of people homeless. Nearly 12,000 ha of rice fields and 7,000 ha of subsidiary crops were inundated. The total economic damage was estimated at nearly 260 billion VND by the end of October 2003.
In response to the floods, the Disaster Management Working Group fielded in October two Joint Assessment Teams to Binh Dinh and Quang Ngai provinces to assess the situation and identify relief needs to help the victims with recovery. Members of the Teams were the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, UNDP, World Vision, Save the Children Alliance, CRS and Oxfam.
Emergency needs identified by the Teams include the provision of shelters to nearly 1000 families that lost their homes during the floods, the provision of food aid to avoid hunger until the April crop, seeds for the next crop and clean water to prevent disease outbreaks in the aftermath of the floods.
UNDP, the first agency to coordinate the Teams on a rotating basis, highlighted the need for an adequate rehabilitation system that could restore the people’s livelihoods, and rehabilitate social services and infrastructures.
UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Jordan Ryan said: “Generous contributions from donors such as Australia and New Zealand and timely coordination have enabled the Disaster Management Working Group to provide a much needed and effective supplement to the Government’s rehabilitation efforts. AusAID, UNDP and CRS will provide thousands of homeless people with shelter; NZAID, the Food and Agriculture Organization and CARE will assist the affected farmers to resume farming; the UN Children’s Fund, World Vision and Save the Children Alliance are helping to provide basic health care, clean water and sanitation facilities, and to help children get back to their schools. Such well coordinated harmonized efforts are essential for an effective disaster management response and we hope can be shared in other areas of activity as well.”