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Viet Nam joins the world to celebrate International Disaster Risk Reduction Day

Ha Noi, 12 October 2011 – Policy makers and international development organisations gather today in the capital city of Ha Noi in an appeal for a shared commitment to position children and young people at the heart of disaster management as Viet Nam joins the world in celebration of the International Disaster Risk Reduction Day October 13.

“We need to have a positive change of awareness in children’s and young people’s contributions to disaster risk reduction, preparedness and response, particularly at the community level,” says Mme Nguyen Thi Ha, Secretary of the Central Youth Union in her opening remarks. “At the same time, we through actions advocate for children’s participation and involvement in disaster management.”

Featuring the theme of “Step up for disaster reduction – Making Children and Young People Partners for Disaster Risk Reduction,” the Nguyen Sieu school event is organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control (CCFSC), the Youth Union, the United Nations and international non-governmental organisations such as Plan International, Save the Children and Live and Learn.
The event is attended by over 500 children from five secondary schools in Ha Noi and a group of Hmong children coming from Yen Bai and Quang Tri provinces, various government officials from Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Education and Training, Ministry of Information and Communication, Ministry of Finance and various international organisations. The children, divided into five groups discussed five check points of the globally agreed Children’s Charter and Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction, which at the end of the event is signed by participating official as a token of their commitment.

Developed recently by the United Nations, Plan International, Save the Children and World Vision through consultations with more than 600 children in 21 countries including Viet Nam, the Charter aims at 1) raising awareness of the need for a child-centred approach to Disaster Risk Reduction and 2) stronger commitment from governments, donors and agencies to take appropriate steps to protect children and utilise their energy and knowledge to engage in these common efforts.

“This year’s observance of the International Day for Disaster Reduction recognizes the vital role of children and young people,” states the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in his message on the International Disaster Risk Reduction Day. “The message is clear: Disaster risk reduction should be an everyday concern for everybody.”

“For Viet Nam, it is encouraging that the Government has remarkably acknowledged the disaster risks that the country is facing and taken a number of important actions to address them,” says Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Representative in her opening remarks on behalf of the international partners. “Disasters impact significantly and negatively on child welfare and cause internal displacement. Children are particularly vulnerable, and girls seem to suffer most.” 

“Let us all make our commitment to ensure that in a very near future, there will be no child and family across the country unprepared to shelter safe from natural disasters and children all over the country are part of our preparedness and response plans,” says Sylwander. (Click here to read the full remarks by Ms. Sylwander)

Viet Nam has been named one of the countries most threatened by disasters and climate change effects, particularly in forms of increased intensity and frequency of flooding, typhoons and prolonged droughts. According to the 2011 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction launched in July in Viet Nam by the United Nations and MARD, the estimated economic loss risk associated with floods and tropical cyclones is increasing in all regions of the world. The proportion of the world's GDP exposed to tropical cyclones tripled in absolute terms, over the period 1970 - 2010 to more than US$1.9 trillion.

In Viet Nam, in the period from 1990 to 2009, an average of 457 people died each year because of disasters. The estimated annual economic loss is equivalent to 1.3 per cent of its GDP, equivalent to US$3.6 billion of 2010 GDP. Climate change and the degradation of the ecosystem have increased the exposure and vulnerability of people and societies to multiple hazards and consequent disaster risks.

The Report has advised that Viet Nam should develop a more comprehensive legal framework and enhance the institutional capacity for disaster risk management in order to deal with not only natural hazards but also emerging risks. Also it is important to recognize that Viet Nam's economic growth and social development gains are being threatened by climate change and natural disasters. Thirdly, it is essential to increase government funding and introduce innovative risk-financing mechanisms.




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