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Disaster Management Reference Handbook - Vietnam (December 2021)

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Vietnam is one of the most hazard-prone countries in the Asia-Pacific Region. With an extensive coastline of 3,260 kilometers (km), 2025.67 miles (mi) the country is regularly exposed to hydro-meteorological hazards including severe storms, cyclones, typhoons, floods, landslides, and coastal erosion. Vietnam is home to an estimated 98.2 million people in 2021, 70% of whom live in coastal communities with high exposure to storms and flooding, which climate change is intensifying.

Vietnam is ranked among the five countries globally likely to be the most impacted by climate change. With maritime Southeast Asia facing sea level rise four times faster than the global average, Vietnam’s low-lying coastline and low-lying delta regions are highly vulnerable to coastal erosion. Rising global temperatures will also increase the likelihood of heat waves in Vietnam, and, therefore, increase the probability of drought occurring in all of the country’s regions.

Since the enactment of the Law on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control in 2013, Vietnam has further systematized its Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and disaster response capability, referred herein as disaster management. Vietnam is implementing a multi-agency and hierarchical model for disaster management, which also incorporates elements of Community-Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM). The GVN coordinates its work at the national level under the umbrella of inter-ministerial and intra-ministerial steering committees, which are replicated at the provincial, district, and commune/ward-level. International partners and non-government organizations (NGO) further support the government’s disaster management system.

Vietnam’s effective response to the 2020 historical flooding in Central Vietnam reflects a maturing of the country’s disaster management system. Fourteen provinces were flooded after Vietnam experienced six consecutive storms and the strongest typhoon to make landfall in the country in 20 years. The GVN declared a state of emergency in seven of the fourteen affected central provinces, and the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, Daniel J. Kritenbrink, declared the events a disaster, paving the way for U.S. disaster relief assistance. Vietnam implemented a whole-of-government response, led by the Prime Minister in coordination with local and international partners. Twenty-seven organizations implemented about $US20.4 million in disaster relief assistance. The UN in its After Action Report assessed there was clear government leadership in response efforts.

Looking forward, responding to climate change is at the forefront of Vietnam’s disaster management policy efforts. The GVN recognizes that climate change, extreme weather, and natural disaster have become increasingly complicated, unpredictable, and has had adverse impacts on the economy and society. Vietnam has set a target of reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) by 9% by 2030 or by 27% with international support. Yet, Vietnam is one of the fastest growing per-capita GHG emitters in the world – increasing at about 5 percent annually. The Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) issued a directive in 2020 that signals there is top-level political will and commitment to addressing the challenges of climate change and strengthening disaster management in Vietnam.