Author: Sternin, S.
Vietnam is a relatively disaster-prone country. While there are a wide range of natural disasters, the most important disasters in Vietnam over the past 10 years have been water-related disasters, in particular storms and floods. There are, however, emerging threats of new types of disasters, many of them linked to increasing development and urbanization. These include, amongst others, forest fires, contamination of water sources, and droughts. UNICEF regularly updates a profile of ongoing and potential disasters, in which the only emergencies with the top rating of 5 that are not water-related are not addressed under emergency programming. UNICEF has implemented a wide range of emergency programming over many years, aiming to ensure that women's and children’s basic rights are ensured during emergency situations in Vietnam. As part of the current 5-year program planning cycle, a mid-term review (MTR) is being conducted.
UNICEF’s emergency programming takes place primarily in central and southern Vietnam, and takes place primarily during the 'disaster season' which begins in September and ends in November/December. Because this MTR is being conducted in July, and due to time constraints, it was not possible to conduct field visits to directly evaluate the emergency programs. Rather, this review makes use of the various studies, evaluations, and over 30 trip reports filed by UNICEF staff over the past years to evaluate the results of the past 2.5 years. In addition to reviewing internal UNICEF documents, the programs are also evaluated in the overall context of emergency programming in Vietnam with which the author, an external consultant, is professionally familiar. One additional constraint to note is that due to delays in 2003, emergency activities for the year have only just begun and thus little information is available on activities in 2003.
Findings and Conclusions:
In the context of increasing efforts in the area of emergencies by the Vietnamese government and other international organizations, UNICEF has been able to strategically position itself to implement a wide range of programs that not only address disaster-affected children and women’s rights and immediate needs, but also complement other organizations' interventions and create links to ongoing development programming which, in turn, help build capacity for more sustainable management of natural disasters in Vietnam. Over the past 2.5 years, a complete management structure for the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of multi-sectoral emergency interventions has been introduced, which has been successful in facilitating the delivery of timely and high quality interventions in the face of the flood and storm disasters that have struck central and southern Vietnam since 2001.
A wide range of activities in the areas of Child Protection, Education, Health and Nutrition, and Water and Sanitation have been realized by the efforts of staff members in those sections as well as the contributions of the entire UNICEF team in both northern and southern Vietnam in areas such as Planning, Operations, and Communications. The breadth of UNICEF's interventions is difficult to summarize: support has been provided to childcare centres, schools, health centres, and households; to groups of women, local disaster management professionals, school children, and doctors; in the form of material contributions ranging from food to water purification equipment, and capacity building on topics ranging from child protection to intensive healthcare in emergency settings. UNICEF has provided immediate relief, contributions towards rehabilitation, and support for preparedness activities.
Areas for improvement identified by UNICEF staff range from macro strategic considerations on the relative emphasis on relief versus preparedness to micro-level comments on selecting more diverse and durable toys for recreation kits. While many of these recommendations are already being integrated into activities planned for 2003, a comprehensive review by an external consultant is helpful in consolidating the various recommendations and presenting them in a format that facilitates tracking and implementation. It is anticipated that many of the recommendations contained in this MTR will be integrated into UNICEF's Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) for 2003-2005. This will help ensure that UNICEF continues to be a driving force for the sustainable attainment of women's and children's rights, both in emergencies and, by extension, in Vietnam's ongoing development process.
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Emergency – Response