According to statistics from the Vietnam Disaster Management Agency, over the past 20 years, the northern mountainous provinces have experienced more than 300 flash floods, mud and rock floods with an increasingly large scale and scope, causing a lot of damage on people, property and infrastructure. To prevent, avoid and limit damage caused by flash floods and landslides, forecasting and early warning plays a very important role.
Flash floods and landslides are becoming more and more complicated
Cao Bang is one of the northern mountainous provinces with mountainous terrain, high slopes, and often suffers from natural disasters such as hail, tornadoes, flash floods, landslides... causing a lot of damage. According to the Commanding Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control and Search and Rescue of Cao Bang Province, in 2020, natural disasters caused nearly VND 80 billion in damage and claimed three lives. In which, floods, flash floods, landslides occurred in all 10/10 districts and cities in the province, affected more than 6,000 houses. Many traffic works, schools, cultural houses, hospitals, irrigation works, clean water were damaged.
In Yen Bai, statistics show that the whole province currently has 1,166 locations where flash floods and landslides are frequent. Specifically, there are 682.44 km2 with high risk of flash floods; 182.4 km2 has a very high risk of landslides and 144.6 km2 is at high risk, so it is very important to require early warning of flash floods and landslides.
In Dien Bien province, in the past three years (2018 - 2020), there hasn't been a year without heavy damage to people and property caused by floods, flash floods and landslides. According to Dien Bien Provincial Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control and Search and Rescue, in 2020, natural disasters in Dien Bien killed four people and injured six; 3,849 houses were damaged or collapsed; 2,500 ha of rice, crops and nearly 100 irrigation works, bridges, schools were damaged… total damage was over 263 billion VND. According to Deputy Chief of the Office of the Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control and Search and Rescue of Dien Bien Province, Nguyen Duc Dang, despite actively propagandizing and warning about the risk of floods and flash floods in localities, natural disasters are becoming more and more severe and extremely unpredictable.
An increase in the density and intensity of landslides, rockslides and flash floods was also recorded in Lao Cai province. Data from the Commanding Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control and Search and Rescue in Lao Cai province said that in the past 10 years, Lao Cai has had 59 heavy rains; 27 flash floods, landslides along with many other types of natural disasters, killing 226 people, eight people went missing; 229 people were injured... Economic damage is estimated at more than 4,624 billion VND, an average of 400 to 500 billion VND/year.
Enhance warning capacity
According to the Vietnam Disaster Managemnet Agency, in recent years, the northern mountainous provinces are often affected by local heavy rains, causing flash floods, landslides, serious damage to life and property of people. Therefore, in order to actively respond to this type of disaster, along with the need to develop a system of warning maps and disaster maps, maps of evacuation locations, the appropriate development and use of real-time monitoring and early warning systems is essential. Sharing about the existing flash flood and landslide warning system in the northern mountainous region, Dr. Le Quang Tuan, Deputy Director of the Department of Science, Technology and International Cooperation, Vietnam Disaster Managemnet Agency said that developing early warning systems is very important and is the most proactive solution to reduce disaster risk. The forecasting and warning work has made certain progress, the national forecasting agency has issued forecast bulletins to the district level, regularly updating and supplementing the situation of natural disasters to serve the work of the directing the response; a specialized warning and monitoring system with the application of many prevention solutions, but there seems to be no effective solution to stop or minimize the impact and damage caused by flash floods and landslides.
Recorded in Lao Cai province, there are currently nine hydrometeorological stations; 53 automatic rain gauge stations; three natural disaster early warning systems are invested from domestic capital, while the disaster warning systems of Korea, the mud and rock flood warning station of Taiwan (China) are running trials... but Due to the complex terrain, scattered population, plus limited funding, the investment and installation of equipment and disaster early warning systems are only prioritized for key places...
In Cao Bang province, Deputy Director of the Sub-Department, in charge of the Sub-Department of Irrigation Ma Thi Huyen Linh, said that in order to gradually overcome limitations in disaster warning work for people to know and take the initiative in natural disaster prevention and control to meet practical requirements, the Provincial People's Committee needs to provide additional support about 90 million VND/year (operating and maintenance costs) for monitoring stations to operate to perform disaster warning tasks.
Lack of funding has been affecting the capacity to warn of flash floods and landslides in the northern mountainous provinces. However, in addition to financial difficulties, many provinces also face the shortage and unprofessionalism of natural disaster prevention and control forces. In many localities, instead of arranging full-time officers, this force is mainly part-time, leading to most of the staff not having basic training in disaster prevention and control, so it is difficult to deploy coordination between all levels and sectors in the locality. Along with that, the investment in equipping more facilities and tools to support the improvement of disaster prevention capacity at all levels, strengthening the activities of disaster prevention and control teams at commune, village and hamlet levels to proactively respond and rescue according to the "four on the spot" motto is still limited.
According to Deputy Chief of the Office of the Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control of Dien Bien Province Nguyen Duc Dang, to improve the warning capacity of flash floods and landslides, in 2020, the Provincial People's Committee has allocated 610 million VND to install equipment to serve the activities of the Provincial Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control; urged units to donate more than 20 billion VND to the disaster prevention and control fund; organized training to improve the capacity of forecasting and responding to natural disasters for nearly 1,500 people who are the people, officials, civil servants and the armed forces.
According to Dr. Le Quang Tuan, it is necessary to develop a real-time disaster warning system, based on continuous monitoring data, this requires a huge investment and needs to combine all four groups of solutions. including: Developing and using an early warning system associated with an online map of zoning risks and disasters of flash floods, landslides, etc., with clear running paths and safe shelters. on the map for people; promoting education, communication, training and drills for local authorities and people (hamlets, villages and communes) on the use of maps and early warning systems; including educational content on skills to recognize and respond to flash floods and landslides into primary education curricula in mountainous areas. Socializing investment resources, managing operations, subscribing to warning information about flash floods and landslides; strengthening guidance and mobilizing people to install and use people's rain gauge stations to forecast and warn about the possibility of imminent flash floods and landslides. Finally, the Government and authorities at all levels need to pay more attention to investing and implementing large-scale projects and schemes in order to develop a real-time monitoring and early warning system at national scale, smooth online connection from the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control to local authorities at all levels.