A 4.5 million USD project, funded by the Japanese Government’s ODA, to mitigate damage by natural disasters in Vietnam ’s central region, was launched in Hanoi on July 9.

The project, “Building Disaster-resilient Societies in the Central Region of Vietnam”, is to be implemented in Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Ngai and Quang Nam provinces over five years (2009-2013). It aims to increase the capacity of local authorities and the community at large in mitigating the effects of natural disasters.

According to a member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, Hideaki Oda, public awareness of flood control is the most important factor to achieve success, along with a range of efforts undertaken by local authorities.

Central Vietnam has a similar topography to Japan, observed Japanese experts in natural disasters and climate change. As a result, they suggested the region implement synchronous measures, including strengthening management by authorities, increasing local people’s awareness and pouring more investment into ‘disaster-resilient’ infrastructure projects in order to ensure sustainable natural disaster mitigation.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dao Xuan Hoc said his ministry is the standing agency supporting the Government’s implementation of its national natural disaster mitigation strategy by 2020, the core of which is increasing the people’s awareness of the issue, encouraging them to take responsibility for anti-disaster preparations upon themselves.

Known as the most disaster prone region, and with a high rate of poverty, Central Vietnam suffers from numerous types of natural disasters, with annual floods being the most severe. These natural shocks can erase decades of hard-won development and exacerbate poverty and inequality.

Natural disasters represent a major obstacle to the achievement of sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals in a country like Vietnam , where 70 percent of the population is vulnerable to water related disasters./.