Vietnam is turning the impossible, into the ordinary

Obstacles in daily life and especially in crises, are shared by all.

With its countless mountains and rivers and a meandering coast, Vietnam is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries in the face of natural disasters. And the effects of climate change are only intensifying the severity and frequency of catastrophe.

So what role do the most vulnerable people and communities play in this new landscape?

“If accidents do happen, the whole neighbourhood has the responsibility”, Ông Phạm Văn Tuấn.

There is no doubt that older residents are the most vulnerable. Despite this, they play an invaluable role in community resilience. The elderly are  the repositories of acquired knowledge and history. They can be the voice that commands respect.

The older people and disaster risk management

Ordinary tasks can be next to impossible for those who are visually impaired. But in the absence of sight, other senses become more acute. One’s world is mapped by memory.

“I am more than 60 years old, I was born blind. I am a fisherman, but now I mend nets”.

The blind people and disaster risk management

“If a community is not mindful of their specific needs, visually impaired individuals have no choice but to be  unnecessarily dependent on others. Persons with disabilities can suffer in times of stress. Disasters can cause new impairments or increase existing ones. And very often, contingency plans do not take the needs of the disabled into account.

Provisions for repetitive loud alarms and instructions, a buddy system and comprehensive drills allow these individuals to be more independent in the case of an emergency”.

Ông Hồ Xuân Lai, Coordination Office for Activities on Disabilities.

Persons with disabilities and disaster risk management

It becomes necessary for community-driven mapping and planning initiatives to build resilience for all.

The Netherlands Red Cross has been working in Vietnam since 1989. Together with the Vietnamese Red Cross, they have been at the forefront of disaster preparedness and community-based disaster risk  management projects, helping communities to adapt to climate change. With support from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), they have been working with government actors, communes and communities to strengthen their resilience in light of natural hazards, over the last 10 years.

Since 2007, ECHO and the Netherlands and  the Vietnamese Red Cross National Societies have been involved in preparing communities to take care of their most vulnerable members, especially focusing on persons living with disabilities, the elderly and poor and ethnic minority groups. These groups are extremely vulnerable during disasters and require the support of others, as well as tailor made information and education on how to be prepared.

This story is part of the Disaster Resilience Journal. The Disaster Resilience Journal is an interactive documentary that examines how individuals, communities and countries around the world are building resilience in a landscape of climate change, and social, economic and cultural shifts. Discover the set of 42 stories, games, maps, interviews and quizzes that make up the Disaster Resilience Journal at:

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