International Day for Disaster Reduction celebration focuses on local knowledge

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C55A5819Ha Noi, October 13, 2015 - The use of traditional knowledge 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 preventing and mitigating the risks

Dr. Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator and UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Resident Representative in Viet Nam, said local knowledge could be even more effective in enhancing the country’s resilience when complemented by advance technologies. “Innovative tools such as smartphone apps and video clips can be used to capture the best of traditional knowledge and experiences in disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and make them accessible to everyone,” she noted.

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), natural disasters prevention in the international context of Sendai Framework and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

On this occasion, the National Committee commended five communes and three individuals for their contributions to the use of natural disaster prevention knowledge in building safer communities in Viet Nam. The committee also announced a video contest to widely share local knowledge in prevention and mitigation.

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