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Viet Nam: Appeal No. MAAVN001 Programme Update No. 1

Viet Nam
Date de publication

This report covers the period 1 January to 30 June 2008.

In brief

Programme purpose: The 2008-2009 support programme aims to strengthen the Vietnam Red Cross Society's role as the leading humanitarian organization in Vietnam.

Programme summary: Activities around disaster preparedness and response, avian influenza preparedness and awareness raising, community-based first aid, and organizational development including volunteering were the main focus areas of the Vietnam Red Cross Society (VNRC) during this reporting period.

The VNRC support to those in need, "Tet for the poor" has become its traditional activity covered by local resources. On the occasion of the 2008 Lunar New Year, the VNRC distributed Tet gifts including cookies, rice or cash to people in need in 41 out of 64 provinces.

The VNRC worked hard to finalize the Red Cross Activity Law draft which was adopted by the National Assembly in June. The head of the International Federation regional office and the head of ICRC regional office, both in Bangkok met with the VNRC leadership and the drafting team to further explain on how Red Cross Law meets international standards, specifically in terms of respecting the Fundamental Principles.

Financial situation: The total budget for 2008 is CHF 1,664,276 (USD 1.54 million or EUR 1.03 million) out of which 34 per cent covered. Overall expenditure to date is 17 per cent for the same year.

No. of people we help: The 2008-2009 support programme seeks to assist 377,903 direct beneficiaries.

Our partners: Multilateral partners who have supported VNRC include: Swedish Red Cross, Japanese Red Cross, German Red Cross, Norwegian Red Cross, Netherlands Red Cross, New Zealand Red Cross, and Liechtenstein Red Cross. VNRC has also been supported bilaterally by the American, French, Spanish, and Swiss national societies. VNRC has also been working with government departments, namely in health and disasters, as well as with UN agencies, such as UNICEF, and non-governmental organizations.


Early in 2008, cold, harsh weather and diseases had far-reaching effects on the life of many parts of the population. More than a hundred thousand hectares of young rice and rice crops were destroyed in 16 provinces, including the typhoon-hit provinces of Thanh Hoa and Nghe An. About 12,000 thousand head of livestock in the Northern and Northern Central provinces died due to the cold. The prospects of livelihood became even bleaker with the occurrence of "blue ear" disease in pigs, killing 2,700 pigs all over the country.

By the end of April, Vietnam had experienced three acute diarrhoea outbreaks which affected about 4,000 people. Among these, testing since October 2007 has revealed that some 700 are positive for cholera. According to a local newspaper, about 1,800 people in the 19 provinces were hospitalized with cholera. Unsafe food and hygiene were identified as the main reasons. The government intervened strongly through dissemination of information on the dangers of poor hygiene, and employed close monitoring measures to curb the spread. However, the health ministry warned that acute diarrhoea could escalate into an epidemic this summer and asked provinces and cities to tighten control of food safety, especially street food and 'risky' food, and to raise people's awareness of food hygiene.

In immediate response to new needs arising from cold weather, the Vietnam Red Cross and its chapters provided warm clothes, blankets, salt, plastic tents, livelihood support and cash from its own stocks or with the help of local businesses to the most affected, particularly to residents in remote and mountainous areas. Response from the Hochiminh City Red Cross chapter was the first Red Cross intervention featured by national television. By March 2008, VNRC had raised VND 10.3 billion (USD 620,000) through local fundraising to assist the affected communities. While the VNRC headquarters has provided clothes and rice valued at VND 6 billion (USD 380,000) to the 15 worst-hit provinces, the government supported the affected with livestock (such as cows and buffaloes) and seed for agricultural activities.

In response to the need, the Spanish and the French Red Cross national societies also distributed rice, seed and fertilizer in the Thanh Hoa and Phu Yen provinces respectively.

During the first half of the year, avian influenza outbreak was reported in 12 provinces, claiming the lives of five people. The reason was mainly coming into contact with and/or eating infected poultry. A total of 26,000 poultry were killed to prevent the expansion of the outbreak.

In May, the VNRC joined the ranks of contributors towards the International Federation emergency appeal for the Nargis cyclone-affected people in Myanmar and released USD 20,000 (CHF 21,100) from its own resources.

While the unprecedented relief operation due to the lengthy cold spell has to some extent slowed down ongoing projects, support to VNRC follows the plan for 2008-2009 in areas where funding has been secured. Activities focused on disaster management, avian influenza, community-based first aid, and capacity building.

Disaster management

Global Agenda Goal 1: Reduced deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

Programme objective: VNRC fulfils its designated strategic and implementation role in the context of Vietnam's disaster management network

The plantation of mangroves which helps to reduce impact of coastal disasters, and disaster preparedness (DP) capacity building continued through the implementation of the Japanese Red Cross-supported coastal protection programme. The activities under this programme were implemented in parallel with the relief operations for 2007's typhoon Lekima.

Under the Japanese Red Cross-funded coastal protection programme, about 22,700 plants of sonnaria, casuarina and bamboo were planted. In some provinces, new plants died due to salt water contamination, a consequence of last year's flood. About 217 poor families, including families headed by women, able to participate in the mangrove plantation activities were selected. The VNRC's ability to mobilize community input is a cornerstone of the mangrove plantation effort. Training in planting techniques was provided to the beneficiaries and Red Cross staff in the project provinces. The selected families were also engaged in taking care of and protecting the mangrove. Additional value from the planting is income generated from fishing in the planted area. Regular monitoring to find solutions to difficulties and follow-up was carried out by the country office.

The VNRC played an active role in preparing people for future threats by providing communities with disaster preparedness knowledge. About 25,000 school pupils and 890 teachers benefited from 30 training courses on disaster preparedness (DP). The acquired DP knowledge is key to helping communities cope with the effects of climate change. Activities under the mangrove programme will continue until 2010.

Typhoon Lekima relief operations largely followed as planned. Rice and household kit distributions were completed in January. Under the International Federation appeal, about 28,000 families received food support whereby each received 30 kilogrammes of rice, and up to 13,450 households provided with family kits containing a mosquito net, a blanket, a water container, a water bucket and cooking utensils. Re-construction of houses started in April after a short interval for reviewing, planning and beneficiary selection. Houses are under construction in many provinces, and up to 1,000 houses are expected to be completed by end of July.

In total, more than USD 3 million (CHF 3.2 million) has been donated through the International Federation and partner national societies (PNS) to support those affected. The French and Spanish national societies have also been working bilaterally to provide rice and household kits in their targeted provinces. Apart from this, the national society also facilitated the training of 40 participants for the disaster response team. This training gave the participants an opportunity to better understand the Red Cross Red Crescent Fundamental Principles, to know how to gather information on damages and needs, to effectively organize relief distribution points in times of emergency relief, and skills in first aid.

Training in SPHERE standards was also provided to 25 participants including Red Cross members and members of the provincial committee for flood and storm control. Participants were given a better understanding and knowledge on the Humanitarian Charter and on minimum standards in disaster response.