As published in Viet Nam News on 10 February 2021

CENTRAL REGION — The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Department of Construction of Quảng Nam Province have handed over the first batch of resilient houses to poor households in celebration of Tết (Lunar New Year).

This is one of the activities of the UNDP project ‘Response to disasters in Việt Nam’ to repair 3,323 houses and build 20 new houses (10 in Quảng Nam Province).

Quảng Nam is one of the coastal provinces which suffers from strong storms every year. According to the province's statistics, after storm No 9 (Molave) in 2020, the total number of houses damaged was more than 27,000 and more than 26,000 houses were partially damaged, affecting the lives of thousands of people.

Nguyễn Văn Mạnh, head of the Infrastructure Management unit under the provincial Department of Construction said: “We are very pleased to cooperate with UNDP to build more safe houses which can withstand storms and floods for the poor to celebrate Tết, especially those seriously affected by natural disasters in 2020. We hope to continue to receive UNDP support in the future to be able to build more houses.”

Caitlin Wiesen, Resident Representative of the UNDP, sent Tết greetings to the households as she wrote: “We hope that in 2021, the Year of the Buffalo, these safe houses will be of great support for the families to overcome difficult situations. We wish you good health and luck, and especially reduced burdens caused by the storms and floods.”

"Building on the success of the project ‘Improving the resilience of vulnerable coastal communities to climate change related impacts in Việt Nam’ supported by the Green Climate Fund, the Government of Việt Nam and UNDP, 3,500 resilient houses which can withstand storms and floods have been built since 2017 in coastal provinces including Quang Nam, which prove to be very successful in protecting local people's lives and assets. We are delighted to hand over more newly built safe houses in the province before the Lunar New Year,” said Đào Xuân Lai, Head of Climate Change and Environment Unit of UNDP Việt Nam.

Also during this period, UNDP also collaborated with the Red Cross Associations in Quảng Nam and four other provinces to support local people affected by storms and floods. More than 1,500 out of 3,323 houses damaged by storms and floods have been repaired and reinforced to be more resilient, to help the poor and near poor households prepare for a new year.

Phan Công Ry, Vice Chairman of Quảng Nam Red Cross Association, said: “From the end of last October, the Red Cross Association received timely support from UNDP. We worked together to implement emergency assistance activities for the local people such as conducting training on house repair and reinforcing to withstand floods and storms, directly assessing damages, monitoring the process of house repairs.”

The project ‘Response to disasters in Việt Nam’ is funded by the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

The project helped to repair and reinforce more than 3,323 houses, and provide 3,323 gender-responsive household kits in five provinces including Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, Thừa Thiên Huế, Quảng Nam and Quảng Ngãi.

Safe houses campaign

The UNDP, online Dân Trí newspaper, and the Việt Nam Fund for Promoting Education have officially launched a crowdfunding campaign entitled: ‘Safe Houses Save Lives', to build 100 new storm- and flood-resilient houses for poor and near-poor families in the coastal province of Quảng Bình.

The campaign is part of a broader UNDP effort to support government response and recovery work in central Việt Nam.

In the first phase from now to April 2021, the campaign is focused on helping vulnerable families living in Quảng Bình Province, where some families living in Lệ Thủy District, which was one of the locations hit hardest by the record-level storms and flooding that swept through the region late last year, saw floodwaters rising higher than two metres up the walls of their homes.

Caitlin Wiesen stressed the importance of ensuring that society’s most vulnerable are not left behind as the Central region recovers from the impacts of floods and storms: “We believe that the more resilient houses are built, the less people will suffer from loss and damages when storms and floods strike, and the more quickly they will be able to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.”

Critically, with safe homes and protected property, fewer people will need emergency support in the future. It is estimated that 100,000 resilient houses are needed to meet the demand of vulnerable households in typhoon-prone coastal areas. 

“With action, we believe the goal can be achieved. UNDP invites all partners to join with us to build more storm-resilient houses to ensure that no one is left behind,” said Wiesen.

At the event, Phạm Huy Hoàn, Director of the Việt Nam Fund for Promoting Education, said: “I believe that this cooperation will bring about positive results, so that the domestic and foreign communities will help Vietnamese people reduce the damage caused by natural disasters and help them stabilise their lives."

So far, more than 3,400 low cost ‘resilient houses’ have already been built by a joint Green Climate Fund (GCF)-UNDP-Government of Việt Nam project since 2018 including more than 700 in Quảng Bình.

The resilient houses have been specifically engineered to include special features such as flood-proof floors that are 1.5m above the highest flood level to provide a safe refuge from rising floodwaters and strongly reinforced roofs that can withstand typhoon-strength winds. They proved their effectiveness during the severe floods and storms of 2020, when they saved the lives and livelihoods of not only their owners, but in some cases other members of the community as well. Their success garnered attention from the media, and they have since been specifically highlighted by the government as a model for wider replication.

During the launch event, the Korean non-governmental organisation World Share committed a financial donation to UNDP to build 39 homes in Quảng Bình Province as the first contribution towards the campaign. Dân Trí also committed a donation of VNĐ1 billion (US$43,480) at this launching event.

Dae-Hoon Jung, Country Director of World Share Việt Nam, noted: “This is the first phase of the contribution from World Share for the affected communities in Quảng Bình Province. As part of our newly established partnership with UNDP, we will continue with our assistance beyond house construction, and will support the livelihood recovery needs of these communities.” — VNS

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