The Mekong region is frequently affected by natural disasters associated with climate change such as floods, droughts and typhoons.
Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam often face common challenges and emerging risks including rapid urbanisation, climate change and environmental pressures along with health risks, rising inequalities, migration, gender discrimination and violence.
Cambodia: Large sections of the country are flood-prone, particularly along the Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake. It is also one of the least urbanised countries in Southeast Asia with over 80% of people living in rural areas in extreme poverty. Cambodia has the lowest sanitation coverage of 37% and the second lowest water supply coverage of 77% in the region resulting in a high child mortality rate directly associated with diarrheal diseases. Focus for 2019 will be on strengthening sustainable access to WASH facilities and positive behavioural change in three target provinces; capacity in pandemic preparedness; promoting road safety awareness campaigns; healthy aging as well as improved access to antiretroviral treatment (ARV) and care among migrants living with HIV/AIDS.
Lao PDR: Communities across Laos are affected by frequent small-scale, recurrent disasters, raising the level of vulnerability of poor populations and undermining existing coping mechanisms. The Lao Red Cross (LRC) aims to support the most vulnerable people’s basic needs by working with communities to improve their health and livelihoods and help them to prepare for and respond to disasters at the community level. The LRC communicates early warning information, provides emergency relief supplies including food and NFIs, and conducts village level assessments in coordination with the local authorities in times of emergency. Focus remains on the area of community-based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR) and school safety initiatives, youth enhancement in community, operationalisation and dissimination of Lao RC Law, community based health and first aid (CBHFA) and violence prevention in relation to health services as well as strengthen its capacity of the First Aid network in public and communities through promoting first aid services. Support from the CCST Bangkok to the national society focuses on its recovery interventions for affected population in Attapeu province following the dam collapse in July 2018.
Thailand: While Thailand has comparably strong disaster management systems and structures, the country remains at risk to major disasters including floods, tropical cyclones, and droughts.The Thai Red Cross Society (TRCS) endeavors to alleviate human suffering, promote international humanitarian law, and provide health services to the most vulnerable among children, women and the aged in four areas of medical and health-care services; disaster preparedness and response; blood transfusion services; and social welfare and quality of life promotion. The CCST’s support to TRCS will focus on strengthening community based disaster risk reduction including school safety interventions; improving GIS system (hardware and software) to inform decision makers of disaster relief assistance; its disaster response mechanism and providing technical support for integrating protection, gender and inclusion into its programming, potentially starting with youth-led activities.
Viet Nam: The country is in continuous risk of natural disasters, including floods, typhoons, landslides, and droughts. In addition, climate change threatens the Red and Mekong river deltas. The rising of the sea levels, increased salination in ground water (caused by low rainfall), and the infiltration of seawater, threatens to damage large areas in this fertile and productive region. Therefore, interventions in the field of community based disaster risk reduction, CBHFA, as well as water, sanitation, and hygiene are listed among the top prority for interventions in Viet Nam for 2019 where the CCST continues to provide support to the Viet Nam Red Cross Society.