A young women holds her son standing in a drought field in Mekong Delta Soc Trang Province (Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) - Vietnam is urged to strengthen the role of women in climate change adaptation and natural disaster risk management, heard a roundtable workshop held in Hanoi on September 5.

The call was made in the context of climate change and natural disasters becoming more complicated in the coastal country.

Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development showed that natural disasters, including drought, saltwater intrusion, torrential rains with whirlwinds, and prolonged severe cold weather in the first six months of this year, killed 37 people, injured 108 others, and causing damages estimated at 16.9 trillion VND (757 million USD). The damage during the first six months of this year is nearly double than that of the entire 12 months of 2015.

Nguyen Thi Tuyet, Vice President of the Vietnam’s Women Union, said no one else but women had to prepare foods as well as the necessaries of life before, during and even after a storm or a flood for a whole family. They, especially farmers, also directly planted rice and crop.

Therefore, women should receive more promotion to participate in committees of flood and storm prevention and control, or natural disaster control at local levels, Tuyet said.

From making plans on climate change adaptation, natural disaster prevention and control to running those plans, all need the involvement of women, she said.

Shoko Ishikawa, UN Woman Country Representative in Vietnam said women were playing an important role in dealing with climate change and disasters. They are the first ones to take care of family members when disasters strike.

Disaster risk reduction planning and adaptation to climate change would not be successful without including the perspectives of women. Community resilience to disasters could not be achieved without increasing the resilience of women, she said.

“We need to capitalise on women’s resourcefulness as we tackle the challenges of climate change,” she said.

Mary Robinson, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on El Nino and Climate, said at the roundtable workshop that climate change is becoming very serious in all countries.

“It was very encouraging for Vietnam as clearly the country did understand the value of ensuring the full participation of women […in coping with climate change] to make the community more resilient [to climate change],” she said.

If you wanted to change the behavior in a family, it was more likely the woman - a mother, who would be able to change that behavior, and be able to make the family more resilient, she said.

How to implement

Tuyet, from the women’s union said to do it, the Government was needs to assign an agency to take responsibility in managing all programmes or projects related to improving women’s role in climate change adaptation and natural disaster prevention and control.

Only when the agency is established, would the programmes and projects be smoothly run, without scattering and overlapping, she said.

Nguyen Van Ngan, from southern Ben Tre province’s Agriculture and Rural Development Department, said it was necessary to provide short training courses for local women in planting rice and crops to adapt to climate change impacts as well as natural disasters.

Which kind of trees should be planted, which kind of animals should be raised to better adapt to climate change. Local women need to be told, he said.

Tran Quang Hoai, Deputy Head of Water Resources Directorate under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said authorised agencies were asked to conduct overall assessments on models piloted throughout the country so far to raise women’s resilience to natural disasters. After that, we would multiply good models.

Vietnam is one of countries most vulnerable to, and most affected by climate change and natural disasters. The Global Climate Risk Index 2015 for the period 1994-2013 ranked Vietnam in seventh place. With the majority of the population living in low-lying river basins and coastal areas, it is estimated that more than 70 percent of the population are at risk of multiple hazards.-VNA