More than 500,000 people living in coastal zones in Viet Nam are annually affected by typhoons. Many of them are very poor and live in unsafe houses. Families like that of 77-year-old Mr. Pham Van Ton in Hai Loc commune of Thanh Hoa Province live in small unsafe houses they cannot afford to repair. Mr Pham’s wife is disabled, and he fears if he and his family take a loan they will be unable to repay it.
“Whenever a big storm comes, we are very worried that our house will collapse. We are so poor that we cannot have it repaired,” said Mr Pham.
According to the Long-term Climate Risk Index, Viet Nam is among the 10 most affected countries by natural disasters and national climate change projections suggest that extreme climate events are becoming more frequent and intense. Poor people in in coastal communities are especially at risk and lag behind in resilience. Each year, nearly 60,000 houses are destroyed or damaged by floods and storms, and this make it more difficult for the vulnerable families to escape the poverty cycle.
In recent years, due to population growth and the expansion of poorly planned shrimp aquaculture, the coverage and health of mangrove forests, which traditionally have provided a vital buffer against typhoons, has reduced significantly.
To help families like Mr Pham’s, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Viet Nam have recently announced a $29.5 million project named “Improving the resilience of vulnerable coastal communities to cimate change related impacts in Viet Nam.” As Viet Nam’s first approved project supported by the global Green Climate Fund (GCF), the project has been developed as a partnership between the UNDP, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Construction, seven coastal provinces together with the Ministry of Planning and Investment as the Nationally Designated Authority.
The project will help vulnerable coastal communities protect themselves from the front-line climate change impacts through safe housing with resilient design features. It will also help increase mangrove coverage to create a natural buffer between coastal communities and the sea as well as enhance climate risk information to guide climate resilient and risk-informed planning.
“This is a really exciting project with benefits to communities, benefits to the country, and benefits globally,” said H.E Howard Bamsey, GCF Executive Director, who joined leaders of MPI and UNDP to announce the project during his first visit to Viet Nam, 26-27 June 2017.
“It’s truly transformational, which is important to us at the GCF, because coastal communities develop much stronger resilience in the face of climate change impacts by using available national climate data effectively. Good practice in the use of climate data and strengthening livelihoods of coastal communities by restoring mangroves that have been lost in recent years can be applicable elsewhere in Viet Nam, in Southeast Asia and around the world.”
“UNDP has been working closely with the Government and communities to ensure that we have strong pipeline of quality projects that can make a measurable and meaningful contribution to meeting the Paris Agreement targets,” said Mr. Kamal Malhotra, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Viet Nam. He underscored UNDP’s full commitment to ensure the effective implementation of this project, aimed at “improving the resilience of vulnerable coastal communities to climate change related impacts in Viet Nam”.
The project has also been welcomed by people like Mr Pham, who look forward to safer, more sustainable future: “I wish that my family can live in a safer house and we have good health. It would be great to have such project in our community”.