Our Perspective

“Currently, the roof still flutters” – Insight into Typhoon Recovery in Khanh Hoa Province


On February 5 and 6, UNDP visited four communes in Khanh Hoa province in the South-Central region of Viet Nam. This was a region that three months prior was directly hit by November’s highly destructive Typhoon Damrey.

As we drove through the different communes, it was clear that relief and recovery needs were still plentiful. We took note of many houses without adequate roofs, many only sheltered by some canvas material held down by weighted plastic bags – a temporary solution but by no means resilient when faced with future storms. Although we did not see his house, we heard from one man interviewed that he was currently using a tree to pin down the roof to his house, which he acknowledged as unsafe for his family.

When asked to describe her experience when the typhoon hit, a woman in Van Khanh commune told UNDP: “At that time, me and my husband were staying at home and suddenly there were very strong winds and the roof of the house flew away. We were very afraid, so we brought the children to go to my mother-in-law’s house. But the water came into my mother-in-law’s house and it flooded as high as my neck. We were very afraid. We ran and brought our children to go to the neighbour, whose house has two floors.” She also added, “Currently, the roof still flutters.”

Other stories displayed similar levels of despair at the destruction of their homes but also revealed peoples’ resourcefulness and patience as they waited for further help. Three months is a long time to go without a proper roof above one’s head. Still facing the damage from the last typhoon how can people possibly recover their livelihoods and homes to be able to better withstand storms of a similar strength in the future?

Many of the people UNDP talked to had been fortunate to know someone that could give them a small loan to make necessary repairs soon after the typhoon. Many had also received some modest monetary and in-kind food support from commune distribution centres. While crucial, this immediate emergency support can only go so far, especially for the most vulnerable people such as poor, elderly, ethnic minority, and/or female-headed households who can have the hardest time bouncing back from disasters and difficulty in paying back loans.

Our UNDP mission was undertaken to monitor the disbursements of voucher and cash payments supported by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) at Commune People’s Committees around the province. The CERF grant support is another step to ensuring recovery is robust and meets the resilience needs of the future. Residents in each commune that met certain criteria based on the percentage of their houses that incurred damage sat patiently as they waited for Red Cross representatives to call their names one-by-one, process the necessary paperwork, and explain the value and use of the voucher or cash assistance. Recipients of the first disbursement events received 50% of the total assistance entitlement. As progress in repairs is made, recipients will return for the second half of assistance at another distribution round.

UNDP is currently exploring the use of information and communications technologies to monitor progress, assess beneficiary satisfaction, and help with quality control of the project. Harnessing the power of photography, GIS tracking, and quick, user-friendly surveys, UNDP can see and ensure that lives are transformed as homes are strengthened. Lessons from the current pilots could potentially be used to inform their similar application in other UNDP projects.

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