Story and Photo: UNDP Viet Nam/ Phan Huong Giang
Viet Nam is in the top ten countries affected by climate change, according to the Germanwatch’s Global Climate Risk Index. The country has experienced more frequent and unpredictable extreme weather in recent years.
In 2017 alone, Viet Nam was affected by more than 16 typhoons, five of which directly battered its coastal provinces and caused severe floods, flash floods and landslides. More than 350 people lost their lives or were reported missing. Hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed, and dozens of villages were left isolated by floods.“There was a terrible flood last September. The water overflowed my window and roof flew away. Therefore, I had to go to the commune People’s Committee office for my safety”, said Pham Thi Tiem, a single, 54-year-old lady living in the Binh Chanh commune, in Binh Son District, Quang Ngai province.
“I get very worried when there is a storm or flooding. Because I have a disability, I cannot run as quick as the others,” said Tiem, tears rising in her eyes.
People here consider housing to be their most valuable asset, but it is also most vulnerable to natural disasters, particularly in the coastal provinces, the most disaster-prone region of the country. Therefore, storm resilient-housing is vital to saving lives and mitigating property loss.
Under the UNDP-GCF project -- ‘Improving the Resilience of Vulnerable Coastal Communities to Climate Change Related Impacts in Viet Nam’ -- the housing support will benefit the poor households based on government criteria. Priority will be given to ethnic minority households and disadvantaged families, the elderly, families of people with disabilities, households in extremely remote areas, the poorest districts of the Government's poverty reduction program, and other vulnerable people.
Along with Decree 48, that supports poor households in the central region to build houses that can withstand floods and storms, the project provides financial and technical support to build resilient homes.
Tiem now lives in what she calls a new, ‘resilient’ home where she sells tiny things to earn less than 100,000 Dong per month. She stores most of her furniture on the upstairs floor where she can stay safer during the flooding, and there is a big window that serves as an exit for evacuation.
Her house was built with additional resilient features such as strengthened bracings, reinforced windows, doors, sealing, and improved drainage and plinths.
“I am very happy and do not feel worried anymore. Thank you so much for the project’s support. Now when a storm comes, I will go inside the concrete roof room. When it floods, I will go upstairs”, she said.
“As a house is the single largest asset owned by individuals and families, building resilient homes is central to the adaptive capacity of most households in the coastal zones of Viet Nam,” said Ms Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Viet Nam Country Director. “Working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Ministry of Construction (MoC), UNDP is supporting the construction of 4,000 safe houses in five coastal provinces of Quang Ngai, Quang Nam, Quang Binh, Thua Thien Hue and Thanh Hoa over the next 4 years.”