For low-income families in coastal areas of Vietnam, storm and typhoon damage is a constant threat to life and well-being. However, there is a way for them to escape the vicious cycle, involving proper financial and technical support for storm-resilience housing. Nguyen Anh Tho presents experiences from Da Nang City.
Why are Poor Communities Most Vulnerable to Natural Hazards?
Early in the morning of October 15, 2013, Typhoon Nari made a landfall on Da Nang on the central coast of Vietnam. For eight long hours, constant violent winds, peaked at Category 1, up to 130 kilometres per hour, battered the city, and the accompanied heavy rainfall caused flooding in many areas. Da Nang was not the city experiencing the worst impact of this monstrous storm, yet twelve people were injured, 122 houses were destroyed, 178 houses partially collapsed, and thousands of roofs were ripped off. Key urban services such as power and water supply, transport, lighting and communications were also heavily disrupted in several areas of the city.
For any family in Vietnam, housing is typically the single most valuable asset. A Vietnamese saying goes ‘Safe housing, sound livelihoods’ (an cư, lạc nghiệp), which represents a strong belief that good housing is the foundation of a good and stable life. However, it is a sad reality that most poor and near-poor households live in fragile housing units, often in areas prone to the impacts of natural hazards such as storm, flooding, erosion and landslide, and thus are highly susceptible to the destruction or damage by these hazards.
An event like Nari is not an exceptional situation for Da Nang. The last equivalent storm was Typhoon Xangsane in 2006, the next in the line was Category 2-3 Typhoon Molave in 2020, and that is not including a number of times when the