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  • ThThanh Ngo and Tho Nguyen

Community Engagement as a Powerful Tool for Urban Disaster Risk Reduction (kèm bản dịch Tiếng Việt)

Above: On the way to the Community Safe Shelter. Flood Early Warning System in Quy Nhon. Photo: ISET-Vietnam

Urban Community-Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) was proved to be a topic of high concern to our UCR-CoP participants as the meeting room was packed on Friday last week (Mar 18, 2016) in the first UCR-CoP event of 2016. Two success lessons in community engagement for urban disaster risk reduction were shared at the meeting: (1) Early Flood Warning System in Quy Nhon city; and (2) Co-management of Urban Flood and Erosion in Can Tho city. As usual, members also had a chance to share and update their work during the Sharing Corner section.

“What does CBDRM in urban areas look like” in comparison with CBDRM in rural areas was the question raised by Dr. Stephen Tyler (ISET-Vietnam) at the beginning of the meeting. Most disaster risks issues arise in peri-urban areas where infrastructure is still poor, while the level of investment and population density are high. Below are two examples of urban CBDRM efforts.

Reducing flood risk to residents in the lower Ha Thanh and Kon Rivers, Quy Nhon city – Ms. Nghiem Phuong Tuyen, ISET-Vietnam

Early Warning System Drill on October 2015 in Quy Nhon. Graphic: ISET-Vietnam

In Quy Nhon city, the impacts of climate change have been felt more and more acutely, especially for the people who unfortunately had to suffer the damages of extreme flood events during the last two decades. The project “Reducing flood risk to residents in the lower Ha Thanh and Kon Rivers, Quy Nhon city” aims to address the existing gap in the early flood warning system (EWS) for Quy Nhon city so that local people are better able to prepare and respond to floods. The success of the EWS are attributed to a number of factors, including high technology and equipment, support from the local government, and the participation of local community.

The effectiveness of the EWS in helping local people respond to floods is largely thanks to direct engagement of the local people themselves in various stages of the project. Installing and operating the EWS was in fact the easier task. Meanwhile, getting the approval from the local government and engaging local people turned out to be the biggest challenge as the project aims to build the first EWS model that allows flood warnings to reach the community at the same time they reach local government officers. For more information about the project, please see the presentation from Dr. Tuyen Nghiem in the event page here. For more information about the project, please visit here.

Co-management of urban flood and erosion in Can Tho city, Vietnam – Mr. Ky Quang Vinh, Director of Climate Change Coordination Office of Can Tho city (Can Tho CCCO)

Mr. Ky Quang Vinh provided an overview of riverbank erosion situation in Can Tho city, the challenges and difficulties when applying community-based approach in the urban area, and lessons learnt from the project.

The engagement of local communities in riverbank management plays an important role in controlling erosion. High tide, rainfall, waterway transportation are key factors contributing to the increase of riverbank erosion in Can Tho, affecting the lives of people living by the rivers. The project organized multiple Shared Learning Dialogues (SLDs) to promote the participation of local community, especially those who live by the riverbank. The local community participates in making decisions regarding the measures of riverbank control to apply, provides ideas and suggestions, contributes materials and labor for the construction, develops regulations, and takes the key role in operation and maintenance of the work in accordance to these regulations.

Above: Biological River Embankment in Can Tho. Photo: ISET-Vietnam

The biological river embankment was built and is working well in protection against erosion. This success is the result of a joint effort between the local community and other stakeholders, including the local government, scientists and the donor. However, this was a challenging process that required a great amount of time and effort. Please see the presentation from Mr. Ky Quang Vinh in the event page here. For more information about the project, please visit here.

At the Sharing Corner session, Ms. Chau Lai from the American Red Cross (ARC) shared with UCR-CoP participants about their Urban Disaster Risk Reduction (UDRR) works in Quang Ngai, Tam Ky and Ha Tinh. ARC is also working with ISET and the Disaster Management Center (DMC), an agency under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam to develop UDRR guidelines.

Mr. Jerome Faucet from the German Red Cross shared their DRR work with GIZ in Tuy Hoa and Quy Nhon to develop methodology for using GIS software to train local technical working groups, and to draw maps to support DRR planning and evacuation. They have recently received new funding from DIPECO to continue developing the method to combine science-based maps and community-based maps.

Ms. Lisa Buggy from COHED updated members on their Heat Stress project: MOLISA has approved to include Heat Stress as a component in Labor Safety training. There will be a Heat Stress webinar, organized by on March 30, 2016. More information on this webinar can be found here.

Ms. Huyen Le from Swiss Cooperation Office for Vietnam (SECO) is working on a project funded by World Bank on Urban Development and Resilience in Can Tho. She felt that the lessons learnt from today’s event would be very useful for this project.

Mr. Phil Graham from Belgian Development Agency shared their work again with new members on Climate Change Adaptation program—Integrated Water Management in Urban Development in 3 provinces (Ha Tinh, Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan). He was interested in today’s theme especially the EWS presentation because there is EWS component in their program as well.

Mr. Miguel Coulier, Climate Change Consultant and is currently conducting a consultancy (commissioned by CARE Vietnam) on urban resilience targeting migrant populations, DRR, climate change adaptation in Hai Phong, Can Tho and Hanoi. He was looking forward to meeting all members to share lesson learnt and discuss relevant issues.

The event was organized at Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Hanoi on March 18, 2016. It was also joined virtually by participant from ADB Manila. This is potentially a great way to enable interested participants to engage with UCR-CoP events without having to travel long distances. Also joining the event were CCCO Can Tho, representatives from agencies of the Ministry of Construction, and representatives of various NGOs, universities, and consulting agencies in Vietnam.

For more detailed information of the workshop presentations please refer to the Events page.

All UCR-CoP members will receive the detailed notes of workshop contents and related discussions. Many thanks for participating and sharing at the workshop and we hope to see you soon at our next meeting.

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