Belgium continues to support Vietnam in natural hazard management

Belgium will support natural hazard management capacity building for mountainous areas in Nam Tra My District, Quang Nam Province.

A landslide in Tra Leng Commune, Nam Tra My District, Quang Nam Province, in October 2020 (Photo: The Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control)
A landslide in Tra Leng Commune, Nam Tra My District, Quang Nam Province, in October 2020 (Photo: The Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control)

The Embassy of Belgium in Hanoi has announced that the VLIR-UOS funded project “Capacity building on disaster management for the mountainous region of Da Bac District, Hoa Binh Province” was approved for expansion to Nam Tra My District, Quang Nam Province.

The project will be implemented by the Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources (VIGMR) and the Belgian partner Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) with a duration of 20 months from 2021-2022.

Kristien Verbrugghen, VLIR-UOS director, said “We are enthusiastic that the societal impact of university capacity building, based on a scientific partnership between Flemish and Vietnamese academics, has been acknowledged by the Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation Meryame Kitir, given the invitation to extend the scope of the research area upon demand from local authorities in order to cope with the effects of recent landslides. This is an illustration of the real impact on society of evidence-based project results generated by VLIR-UOS projects”.

As long-standing partners in development cooperation, Belgium and Vietnam have been nurturing bilateral ties in various sectors.

This project highlights the continued support of the Belgian Government to Vietnam to effectively respond to the challenges of climate change and natural disasters such as flooding and, more specifically, devastating landslides in the central region of Vietnam, such as in Quang Nam Province in October 2020.

“After offering urgent humanitarian aid to the affected population, Belgium also wanted to contribute to solutions for disaster management and reduce the risks of disasters for the people in the future. The obtained results of this project will be also crucial for the agricultural sector – in which Belgium and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development are in close collaboration to implement the Strategic Partnership Agreement on Agriculture signed in October 2018,” said Belgian Ambassador to Vietnam Paul Jansen.

With climate change, Vietnam is increasingly affected by natural hazards. In mountainous terrains, increased precipitation combined with changes in land use and population pressure have induced the occurrence of slope instability. These landslides generate large, although poorly documented, impacts on the lives and livelihoods of rural populations.

This project aims to go beyond the traditional scientific assessment of landslide hazards by implementing real-time documentation of the occurrences and impacts of landslides jointly with local communities. With this participatory approach suitable disaster risk reduction practices adapted to the local context will be designed.

According to Nguyen Quoc Dinh (VIGMR), the project’s manager, the project will help to link scientists in different fields and managers to comprehensively consider the relationship between natural and human hazards, including the role of policy and culture, and will involve all stakeholders (individuals, organisations, and government bodies) to make recommendations.

The project will contribute to building and improving the understanding of the dangers of natural disasters for the people and authorities, and aims to strengthen the proactive response to natural disasters in some areas of Nam Tra My District, Quang Nam Province.

The project is a stepping-stone towards longer-term cooperation between local management levels and scientists through the establishment of a local observer network to help local authorities in the decision-making process for natural disaster prevention and management.