Transporting relief goods to people in flood areas in Quang Tri province in 2020. Photo: Tien Nhat.
  1. How does UNDP evaluate the dual risks of the Covid-19 epidemic and natural disasters for the Vietnamese people, especially the 5 disadvantaged groups, including the elderly, children, poor households, and people with disability and ethnic minorities?

    Disasters and epidemics do not discriminate and impact everyone: Floods and storms of 2020 impacted central provinces of Viet Nam, but poor households, elderly, children, people with disabilities and ethnic minorities were the most vulnerable. We see similar trends now with the impact of Covid-19, where these disadvantaged groups are worst affected, as these groups also make up a significant share of migrant workers, who are facing heavy impacts from the pandemic. The disaster season is starting soon again in central Viet Nam, and we can expect more typhoons, floods, landslides forcing people to evacuate to safe places, or to take shelter in crowded buildings. Meanwhile, we are witnessing the devastating outbreak caused by Delta variant of Covid-19. Therefore, communities will face multiple risk of disasters and Covid-19, while those disadvantaged groups will be impacted the most.   

    Impact is likely to be severe for vulnerable groups: After one year being devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic and successive floods and storms, we know from our local partners that poor households, near-poor families having small children, elderly people, those having chronic diseases or disabilities have extremely limited resources to fall back on. At the same time, the pandemic has placed a heavy burden on health care support and social assistance provided under the programs by the central and local government authorities as well as by the public and charity groups in the region.

    In addition, climate change has impacted the magnitude and intensity of natural hazards, adding to increased vulnerabilities of the most disadvantaged groups. Climate change is also helping other types of viruses to travel further and higher, including malaria and dengue fever.
  2. How does UNDP evaluate the proactiveness in natural disaster prevention and control, as well as Vietnam's efforts towards the goal of controlling the Covid-19 epidemic over the past time?

    Viet Nam has been very proactive in natural disaster prevention and control: The country has put in place very effective DRM mechanisms. The CCNDPC has provided strong leadership in emergency responses and has branches at all levels. The DRR Partnership established under the CCNDPC has members from key UN development agencies, INGOs and multi-lateral institutions. Meanwhile, the VNDMA has been acting extremely effective as the Gov designated agency.

    Disaster management has been high on the agenda: Over the past decades, as a leading UN agency, UNDP has provided strong support to Viet Nam in disaster management, with a total of $70 mil over the past 4 years. (1) Institutional capacity building has been one of our priorities over the years. UNDP supported technical capacity building for staff, providing equipment, developing DRR policies and legal framework, and recently support establishment of Viet Nam Disaster Management Agency. (2) community-level risk assessments, training and planning; (3) public disaster risk communications, notably the DRR Press Awards; (4) providing life-saving and recovery assistance. Early this year, we provided urgent life-saving assistance worth of $1.4 ml after the historical floods and storms in central Viet Nam.

    The Government has well linked disaster management and long-term resilience building: UNDP is proud that we have mobilized $60 ml to support Viet Nam for this purpose. We have been working on: (5) Constructing disaster resilient houses in coastal provinces; (6) Improving resilience of vulnerable poor households against natural disasters and climate change impact including prolonged droughts, severe typhoons and floods; (7) Planting forests and revitalization of coastal mangroves.

    Viet Nam was one of the global success stories in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Viet Nam’s trace and test approach with transparent public communications has been key to this success. It is still the most important immediate measure for addressing the current wave of cases and buying time to deliver vaccines. Viet Nam has moved quickly on the first phases of delivering the vaccine to frontline workers, healthcare staff and other priority groups. The key challenge now is accessing enough vaccines to protect the whole society and to pave the way for full economic recovery and reopening the country.

    I comment the billion-dollar fund which Viet Nam has established to procure vaccines from multiple sources. I also commend Viet Nam’s aspirations to promote innovation and technology transfer for domestic production of international and nationally developed vaccines. UNDP supports Viet Nam’s aspiration to become a hub for vaccine production serving both national and regional needs.
  3. What solutions does UNDP recommend to the Government, ministries, provinces and cities of Vietnam to control and minimize the risk of dual impacts from natural disasters and the Covid-19 epidemic?

    The Government’s 5K message on facemasks, disinfection, distancing, avoiding gathering and making health declarations provides an easy to remember method of reduce the risk of COVID-19 in every day life and also in disaster preparedness and response. Every individual needs to be mindful of their role, stay alert constantly, and practice 5k actions, with practical support, guidance and reinforcement from authorities and frontline workers at all levels. UNDP is initiating a tripartite partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Viet Nam Disaster Management Agency on a public awareness campaign, which is expected to bring key simple messages following this approach to individual households in the country, applying 5K prevention measures for potential emergencies in the upcoming storm season.

    Decisive measures are needed to help the transient poor cope with loss of income as social distancing measures are introduced to control the latest surge in the virus. Cash transfers can help workers meet their immediate requirements and discourage people living in affected areas from returning home, where they could potentially spread the virus. Provision of social protection in disease hotspots regardless of residence status has been an important innovation by Ho Chi Minh City authorities during the current outbreak and should be considered for replication elsewhere.

    As localities emerge from Directive 16, public works programs can be an effective method for providing support to vulnerable groups. Public works are effective because they are self-targeting, providing immediate employment and incomes to some of the most vulnerable groups.

    COVID-19 is accelerating our digitalization. It is extremely important that diverse needs of different groups are taken into account to ensure that all can benefit from IR 4.0, including home-based employment and flexible working hours for people with disabilities. All vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities, must be included in our adaptation plan for the New Normal.

    Digital transformation should be further explored in every aspect of life: The Government has evident successes of digital services, including e-government services, telehealth systems, health declaration and tracing systems. The country has giant high-tech corporations such as Viettel and FPT. Creating home-grown digital platforms and innovative digital ecosystem solutions where families, enterprises, schools, etc can operate virtually, without face-to-face contacts, to increase efficiency and reduce risks of contagion.

    Long-term investment and solutions are more effective: climate is changing and disasters will continue having their impact on the livelihoods and economic activities in Viet Nam, while Covid-19 will also be part of our daily lives for many years to come. Therefore, it is important to ensure that development investments are risk-informed and are designed to reduce vulnerabilities of the most disadvantaged groups against both natural hazards and pandemics. Socio-Economic development activities at the national, provincial and local levels should consider multiple risks from natural hazards, Covid-19 and climate change and ensure that all investments contribute to sustainable development and build resilience of communities against these risks.
  4. In the past time, what activities have UNDP and its affiliates conducted to support Vietnam in responding to and overcoming consequences of natural disasters and preventing and controlling the Covid-19 epidemic, especially for disadvantaged groups?

    In 2020, recognizing that communities in the Mekong Delta and South-Central Coast faced a double burden of socio-economic impacts from drought and saltwater intrusion and Covid-19, UNDP rapidly provided water tanks, soap and facemasks for 1,500 poor and near poor households. Through this support, highly vulnerable households in Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan and Ca Mau could practice Covid-19 preventive actions to protect their health.

    UNDP also provide rapid response support to lessen impacts of both drought and Covid-19: UNDP’s assessment in the first half of 2020 showed that dragon fruit farmers faced productivity impacts due to water shortages and  serious market disruptions due to Covid-19 impacting sales of dragon fruit. UNDP provided urgent support to more than 500 dragon fruit farming households in 15 cooperatives in Binh Thuan province to recover from Covid-19 impacts and build forward better through production inputs, energy saving LED lighting, drip irrigation, and applications of good agricultural practices.. UNDP also provided direct support through public work activities in Bac Lieu, Ca Mau and Ha Giang provinces, providing  short-term work and incomes to 2,953 poor and near poor families who lost livelihoods due to Covid-19 impacts, including in many localities impacted by drought and saltwater intrusion. In total, our work helped 22,600 people to meet essential needs and begin to recover their livelihoods. This support was made possible thanks to funding from the Government of Japan.

    Read the Vietnamese version published in newspaper here

--- Article text goes here ---

Icon of SDG 13

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Viet Nam 
Go to UNDP Global