Remarks at the launch of the SCDM Project

21 Jun 2013

Speaker: Mr. Bakhodir Burkhanov, UNDP Deputy Country Director
Date:       Friday, 21 June 2012
Event:     Launch of the Project "Strengthening Institutional Capacity for Disaster Risk Management in Viet Nam, including Climate Change related Disasters”

Mr. Nguyễn Xuân Diệu, Deputy Chief of the Standing Office for the Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control; Deputy Director of the Water Resources Directorate;
Ms. Katherine Elliott, Australian Agency for International Development;
Representatives from the national government and provinces of Lao Cai and Thua Thien – Hue;
Colleagues and project counterparts:

Let me start by warmly welcoming you to the inception of the second phase of the project "Strengthening Institutional Capacity for Disaster Risk Management in Viet Nam”

The timing of our launch coincides with the adoption by the National Assembly of Viet Nam’s first-ever Natural Disaster Prevention and Control Law earlier this week. This is an important milestone and we would like to congratulate Vietnamese policymakers, including colleagues at MARD, for their efforts to strengthen disaster resilience and response.

The project we jointly launch today will deepen institutional capacity, especially supporting the role of the standing office for disaster risk management that will be set up following the approved Law. The project will scale up the Community Based Disaster Risk Management Programme across the country with a special focus on building resilience of communes in 20 disaster-prone provinces.

The project offers an innovative partnership model. It will harness the field experiences of national and international public and civil society organizations such as Oxfam, Vietnam Red Cross and Vietnam Women Union. The project will build on their extensive networks and technical expertise to develop successful implementation models in Lao Cai and Thua Thien – Hue, and replicate them to other provinces.

Ladies and gentlemen:

As we embark on this partnership to promote disaster risk reduction in Viet Nam, I would like to touch on a few success factors for this project:

Firstly, a comprehensive national risk assessment is key. In line with the adopted Law, it should cover hazard, exposure and capacities. The results of the assessment will help Viet Nam and its development partners better plan their programs and target communities most in need of assistance.

To accelerate the implementation of the CBDRM programme, the project needs to provide further training to selected experts from among 700 trainers who benefited from the first phase of the project. These trainers will then assist target communes to undertake vulnerability capacity assessment. The results of these participatory assessments will help communities produce their own disaster management action plans.

Secondly, effective disaster risk management requires a comprehensive information system that is publically accessible. This is stipulated in the approved Law. Easily accessible and reliable information is vital for decision-making in emergencies. Stakeholders, including communities on the ground, should be able to access the information they need to prepare for disasters and reduce their negative impact.

This calls for a close cooperation between MARD, MONRE and other stakeholders to work out a feasible mechanism for a unified comprehensive database for disasters and climate risk analysis.

Thirdly, further research and professional training are essential to addressing the changing landscape of disaster risks and hazards. Viet Nam has done remarkably well in its disaster mitigation record, but it now faces a new generation of disaster risks that are more volatile and severe. Sustaining and enlarging the good progress requires more nuanced strategies backed by quality analysis and data. Research will not only enable better understanding of hazards, but will create a stronger foundation for policies to effectively deal with a variety of existing and new risks. The ongoing study on extreme climate events is a good example of such policy-oriented research.

Capacities should go hand in hand with research and evidence. Given its high exposure to various calamities, Viet Nam needs a cadre of professional disaster risks reduction experts. There have been some early achievements in offering DRR training in select universities in Viet Nam. Good expertise also exists in neighboring countries and at various global centers of excellence. UNDP stands ready to facilitate a more systematic cooperation with these institutions for research and capacity development.

And finally, disasters do not respect sectoral or institutional boundaries. Effective risk management requires multisectoral preparedness and response with state institutions and civil society working side-by-side. A truly effective partnership is one that includes continuous dialogue within and across national institutions. Policy dialogue and information-sharing mechanisms are essential to bring decision-makers from all relevant institutions, as well as development partners and other stakeholders, to discuss issues and solutions to advance the disaster risk reduction agenda in Viet Nam. We are ready to support the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to formalize the National Platform on Disaster Risk Management as per the Prime Minister’s encouragement.

Colleagues and friends:

Disasters are much more than ever a development rather than simply a humanitarian concern. There is a growing consensus among the legislature, government and ordinary citizens in Viet Nam that solutions lie in better partnerships among all stakeholders.

I wish all project counterparts success in this important project. UNDP and other UN organizations will continue to support national institutions to address disaster risks and strengthen resilience of Vietnamese people.

Last but certainly not least, I would like to acknowledge the strong substantive cooperation and funding support of the Australian Agency for International Development in this project. AusAID has been an engaged partner of Viet Nam in sustainable development, climate change and disaster risk reduction, among other areas. We are happy to have their support in this endeavor.

I thank all participants for attending this inception meeting and wish you all good health and happiness.