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Traditional Knowledge and Experience in Natural Disaster Prevention

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C55A5819Ha Noi, October 13, 2015 - “Knowledge for Life”, or use of traditional knowledge to complement scientific approaches in natural disaster prevention and mitigation, was the focus of the anniversary of the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction and seminar today held by the National Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and the United Nations.

Viet Nam is among 20 countries worst affected by climate change impacts. In recent years, natural disasters have become more complex and unpredictable in scope and intensity having killed 500 people and eroded 1.5 per cent of the nation’s GDP per annum on average. According to Viet Nam’s Intended Nationally Decided Contributions, announced on October 12, damage caused by natural disasters may be equivalent to 3 to 5 per cent of the nation’s total GDP by 2030.

The first 10 months of 2015 has illustrated increasingly erratic weather patterns with unseasonally large floods in three central provinces, a punishing cold spell in Sa Pa, acute heat in northern and central regions, serious droughts in the south central coast, historically high rainfall in Son La and Quang Ninh, severe landslides in the Mekong Delta and salt water intrusion, according to a National Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention report.

Mr. Hoang Van Thang, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said these events increased the importance of correctly utilizing traditional knowledge and experiences to complement scientific knowledge in assessing natural disaster risks and in developing and implementing policies and plans to help mitigate such risks.

“This year’s theme also emphasizes the multi-sectoral approach that adapts to local contexts to improve each individual, families, and society’s resilience to natural disasters,” said Mr. Thang.

At the seminar, the committee commended five communes and three individuals for their contributions to the use of natural disaster prevention knowledge to build safer communities in Viet Nam under Project 1002.

Dr. Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator and UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Resident Representative in Viet Nam, mentioned the use of smart phone applications and video clips in sharing traditional knowledge and experiences. “Knowledge of early warnings signals in nature can be vital to ensuring early action is taken to mitigate the impacts of both slow and fast onset disasters such as droughts, heatwaves, and storms and floods”.
Meanwhile, UNDP experts used the seminar to update participants on Viet Nam’s Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX Viet Nam) and natural disasters prevention in the international context of Sendai Framework and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Dr. Mehta praised Viet Nam’s efforts in natural disaster prevention, especially in mobilizing 1,700 communities to actively participate in natural disaster mitigation during the past five years in the National Programme for Community-based Disaster Risk Management.

She also put forward several recommendations for continued efforts to increase Viet Nam’s resilience to natural disasters. She stressed the importance of innovative policies and mechanisms that adapt to the increasingly unpredictable and rising weather extreme events, and the private sector’s role in realizing climate change mitigation plans.

“Innovative solutions, such as the natural disaster insurance package or early warning applications to help people prepare for crop protection and evacuation, can help reduce material and human losses, and, at the same time, shorten the post-disaster discovery period,” said Dr. Mehta.

For more information, please contact:
Nguyen Viet Lan, UN Communication Team
Tel: 84-4-38500158, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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