Japan, UNICEF to Help Vietnam Enhance Resilience to Disaster Risks for Children

The exchange of notes was inked by Japanese Ambassador Takio Yamada and UNICEF Representative in Vietnam Rana Flowers in the presence of Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Hoang Hiep.

The Embassy of Japan and UNICEF Vietnam on November 17 signed an exchange of notes for a project on “enhancing resilience to disaster risks and climate change for children”, which runs in Vietnam from 2021 – 2026.

The US$5.7-million-project aims to build institutional capacity to support child-centered and climate-sensitive activities through policy advocacy to access 27,000 children under 18 in central Vietnam and the Mekong Delta, especially Soc Trang, Ca Mau, and Bac Lieu provinces, according to VOV.

Rescuers use a boat to move children to safe places amid the historic flood in the central province of Quang Tri last year. Photo: VOV

It will also improve water and sanitation services and conduct screening for severe acute malnutrition to make timely interventions in 2025.

Speaking at the event, Hiep thanked the Japanese Government and UNICEF for supporting risk reduction and other fields, including nutrition, healthcare, education and clean water supply, to meet basic needs of people in natural disaster-prone areas.

The signing of the document marked an important milestone in the close partnership among the Governments of Vietnam and Japan and UNICEF, he said.

Hiep further noted that his ministry hopes the Government of Japan and UNICEF will continue sharing experience and promoting Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in enhancing the resilience of natural disaster response projects and management system.

He also expected Japan and UNICEF to put forward recommendations for Vietnam, carry out behaviour-change campaigns, and enhance awareness of people and policymakers in disaster risk reduction in order to build a disaster-resilient society.

Flowers, for her part, said the climate crisis is a crisis of children’s rights. Vietnam is facing climate change-related disasters, like drought and saltwater intrusion in the Mekong Delta, as well as historic floods and landslides in central Vietnam last year, she said.

Many communities already hit by natural disasters are suffering adverse impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, she noted, adding that the project will address vulnerable issues in multiple areas, namely clean water, sanitation, nutrition, education and children’s protection.

Additionally, the project does not only consider children as a vulnerable group but also an agent of change for a green, clean and safe community.

National Highway 1A running through Thua Thien Hue Province is flooded, October 10, 2020. Photo: VNE

According to the UNICEP Children’s Climate Risk Index 2021, Vietnamese children and adolescents are at the highest risk of being affected by climate change.

In early November, the European Union and France also agreed to fund 26.1 million euros ($30.3 million) to enhance flood risk management capacity of Dien Bien Phu Town in Vietn

Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including heavy rainfall and associated flooding in the town in Dien Bien Province, which is frequently exposed to flooding from the Nam Rom River in spate, VNE reported.

The five year (2022-2026) project will improve the town's capacity to adapt to climate change impacts, in particular to the flooding of Nam Rom River. It is expected to reduce riverbank erosion, urban flooding and improve livelihoods of the riverine population. It will construct and operate hydraulic works along the Nam Rom (rehabilitation of the riverbank and river weirs).

Besides, it will assist the town in adopting nature-based approaches with eco-friendly engineering techniques and the development of spaces with more room for the river during high flooding periods.

The EU grant via the WARM Facility will be used to provide technical assistance to the project.

The support will build local stakeholders' capacity in project implementation and multi-disaster risk management.

The capacity-building exercise will include hazard and vulnerability mapping and promoting integrated urban development strategies.

The project will also provide local authorities with a better decision-making tool through hydrological data analysis and development of a hydrological and hydraulic model of the Nam Rom River system.

A family travels by a makeshift raft in the flooded Quang Tri Province, October 20, 2020. Photo: VNE

Two financing agreements were signed by Bertrand Walckenaer, Deputy General Director of the French Development Agency (AFD), and Dinh Toan Thang, Ambassador of Vietnam to France, in Paris on the occasion of the Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh's official visit.

The support includes a loan of 24.65 million euros from AFD for infrastructure development and a 1.5 million euro grant (non-refundable aid) for technical assistance through the Water and Natural Resources Management Facility (WARM) funded by the EU, according to a press release from the French Embassy in Hanoi.

"It will help address challenges and support the resilience of this city of 150,000 inhabitants," the release said.

In January, the UNFPA provided $180,000 in flood relief to elderly Vietnamese.

In particular, over 3,700 UNFPA Dignity Kits worth $180,000 were provided to the elderly in central Vietnam following a series of storms and tropical depressions that hit the region last year.

Early this year, over $28,000 were collected from over 110 Americans in a charity drive for flood relief in central Vietnam.

The campaign was organized by Ron Haeberle, the American photographer best known for capturing the My Lai Massacre in 1968, with assistance from Chuck Searcy, co-founder of Project RENEW, an organization that deals with unexploded ordnance left from the Vietnam War.

The swollen Nam Rom River in Dien Bien Phu Town in Dien Bien Province in 2017. Photo: VNE

Last year, central Vietnam was struck by a series of storms and tropical depressions, triggering heavy rains, flooding and landslides. Over 200 people were killed and property losses amounted to around VND30 trillion ($1.3 trillion). Hundreds of thousands of homes were either destroyed or damaged, affecting the lives of at least 7.7 million residents.

The Vietnamese government has provided around VND770 billion to the region as emergency relief. Many international organizations and countries like the U.S., U.K. and Australia also provided aid to assist the resumption of normal life, according to VNE.