Severe drought in the Central Highlands (Photo :VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Competent authorities should work to raise public awareness as well as improve their forecasting capacity against natural disasters in the context of extreme and unpredictable climate change, Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong said in a letter penned for the 72nd anniversary of the Traditional Day on Natural Disaster Prevention (May 22).

Speaking at a ceremony held in Hanoi on May 22 to mark the event, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Hoang Hiep described the preparedness against natural calamities as a primary mission for the whole year, and asked relevant organisations to raise citizens’ awareness of the work to ensure safety during flood seasons.

Information technology should be deployed to disseminate necessary information to the community, he said, stressing that it is crucial to prevent natural disasters and mitigate their consequences.

Within the framework of the ceremony, the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) rolled out a flood-resilient housing design contest.

Previously, the steering committee had also launched the National Week for Natural Disaster Preparedness and Control in Hai Phong city on May 14, aiming to encourage all-level authorities, organisations and people to stand ready for disaster combat.

The communications work has been prioritised with a focus on vulnerable groups like the elderly, people with disabilities, women, children, and ethnic minority people.

The increasing intensity and devastation of natural disasters have left critical losses of human life and assets in Vietnam, thus badly affecting local livelihoods as well as the country’s sustainable development.

Vietnam recorded historic calamities in 2016 with prolonged drought and saline intrusion in the Mekong Delta region, and floods in the central region that caused economic damage worth more than 39.7 trillion VND (1.69 billion USD). Meanwhile, natural disasters left 264 people dead and missing, and cost the country some 60 trillion VND in economic losses.

Although natural disasters in 2018 were not as fierce as those in the previous two years, they still left 224 people dead and missing, as well as caused 20 trillion VND in economic losses. –VNA