Country steps up natural disaster prevention

Under the National Strategy for Natural Disaster Prevention, Response and Mitigation, 36 projects will be developed between 2009 and 2025, at a total cost of over VND215 trillion (US$11.95 billion), the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dao Xuan Hoc, said October 7.

The National Forum on Natural Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change opens in Hanoi on October 7 (Photo: VNA)

He was speaking at the National Forum on Natural Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change in Hanoi, which was jointly held by the ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Natural Resources and Environment.

The event was attended by more than 200 domestic and foreign policy makers, administrators and experts.

Addressing the forum, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said that the country needs to efficiently use the resources of the State, the public, and local and foreign organizations in preventing and alleviating natural disasters.

Measures to alleviate natural disasters must be included in social and economic development plans, Mr. Hai said.

Vietnam is considered to be among the five countries likely to suffer most from the climate change. As such, it is very important and urgent to prevent and ease impacts of natural disasters, he said.

While climate change is a future threat to many countries, Vietnam has been affected by ten storms in the East Sea so far this year, of which Typhoon Ketsana was reported to be the strongest in the last four years. It caused a total damage of over VND14 trillion ($780 million), the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Cao Duc Phat, said.

Since the beginning of the year, 300 people have been killed or are missing and 963 injured by the country’s storms, with total damage estimated at over VND24.4 trillion ($1.55 billion), Mr. Phat, who is also the head of the National Steering Committee for Flood and Storm Control, said.

In the past five years, natural disasters have killed about 400 people every year and caused a loss that accounts from one to 1.5 percent of GDP, he said.

Of the victims of natural disasters, farmers and the poor suffered the most, he added.

Provinces and cities are taking specific measures to implement the national program on natural disaster prevention and mitigation, which was approved by the Prime Minister in December 2007, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The north and north-central regions focused on “thorough flood prevention,” while coastal areas in central and southeast provinces adopted “both preventing and adapting to natural disasters,” the ministry said.

In the Mekong Delta, people try to “live alongside floods,” while in mountainous and Central Highland areas, the task is to “actively respond to storms and floods,” it said.

To prevent and alleviate natural disasters efficiently, Deputy Minister Hoc said maps of areas vulnerable to natural disasters should be produced; the alert system and the information and communication system needs to be expanded to hamlets and villages; the arrangement of residential areas must be improved, and flood drainage systems must be streamlined.

Awareness of the public on natural disaster prevention and mitigation should be enhanced so that they can take part in these projects in an effective manner, he said.

Knowledge related to climate change, respond to storms and floods, and mitigation of natural disasters will be included in school curricula, he added.

By Van Phuc Hau – Translated by Truc Thinh

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