Natural Hazard Risk
Vietnam is a rapidly developing country that is highly exposed to such natural hazards as droughts, earthquakes, floods, forest fires, landslides, sea water intrusion, typhoons, and volcanic eruptions. From 2012 to 2014, natural disasters caused about 240 deaths and $1.4 billion in economic losses.
Typhoons and floods are the most frequent and devastating events, causing fatalities and wreaking havoc on infrastructure and livelihoods. It is estimated the country faces an average estimate of 6-8 typhoons every year. An estimated 70 percent of the population live in coastal areas and low-lying deltas, and therefore have increased exposure to flooding risk.
The World Bank has ranked Vietnam as one of five countries most likely to be affected by climate change. Its 3,200 kilometer coastline crosses 28 provinces, 50 percent of which include major urban centers.
Over the last decade, Vietnam has shifted from ex-post disaster relief and response to ex-ante risk reduction through preparedness and resilience. In 2007, the government approved the National Strategy for Natural Disaster Prevention, Response, and Mitigation to 2020, and in 2012, it approved the National Strategy and a National Action Plan for Climate Change. Policies have been prioritized to develop a safe and inhabitable coastal zone and a national program supports community-based disaster risk management (DRM)––demonstrating political commitment to the resilience agenda.
To further advance the DRM agenda, the government’s priorities include:
- Integrating disaster and climate risk into development planning;
- Developing a financing platform for DRM investments;
- Promoting community-based DRM;
- Developing GIS and spatial databases, and data formatting standards for DRM; and,
- Establishing risk-financing mechanisms to mitigate the impact of natural hazards.
Since 2007, GFDRR support has focused on helping Vietnam develop a more comprehensive approach to DRM through resilience activities funded by the World Bank and direct engagement with the government. Today, Vietnam is one of the few countries in the East Asia and Pacific Region with an ex-ante DRM program financed by the World Bank.
Strengthening urban resilience has been central to GFDRR’s support in Vietnam. In 2014, at the request of the city of Can Tho, GFDRR and the World Bank conducted a CityStrength Diagnostic. This work has subsequently helped promote climate-resilient investments in low-lying coastal cities. In addition, GFDRR is supporting seven cities that are participating in a wider Mekong Delta project. The activities focus on risk-informed urban planning and investments and on developing and disseminating knowledge products tailored to a Vietnamese urban-resilience context.
GFDRR support has helped Vietnam access substantial World Bank investments in DRM, leveraging on-going and pipeline investments to ensure sustainability. The Managing Natural Hazards Project for Vietnam ($150 million) aims to strengthen weather forecasting, early warning systems, and government capacity for risk planning and mitigation. GFDRR is also helping identify gaps in drought risk management policies, programs, and investments.
Additionally, GFDRR is supporting activities to strengthen the Mekong Delta transport network, rural roads, and highways and to assess public–private partnership options. Partnering with the World Bank, GFDRR is supporting activities that use a community-engagement approach to determine the resilience of vulnerable rural roads, with an aim to help flood-proof the main national highway and minimize the risk of connectivity loss. GFDRR has also supported developing guidelines to screen small infrastructure upgrades for resilience to extreme weather.
GFDRR activities are supporting Vietnam’s transition toward an integrated DRM system. A government-led platform is being developed to coordinate the financing and implementation of DRM investments and activities, and emphasizes resilient dam safety regulations. Conducting a rapid assessment of coastal hazards, promoting open data, and strengthening capacity for hazard risk mapping and information systems design are among the supported activities.
GFDRR anticipates continued demand from the government to support:
- Instituting integrated, risk-informed urban planning, with comprehensive infrastructure upgrades that factor future urban populations;
- Integrating DRM measures into future World Bank projects;
- Strengthening long-term risk-financing mechanisms to decrease the government’s fiscal exposure to natural hazards; and,
- Improving social safety nets to provide livelihood support that helps high-risk groups recover quickly from disasters.