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Vietnam Must Improve Flood Resilience as Extreme Weather Hits Central Coast, Say Experts

HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM — Vietnam’s rainy season has hit low-lying central areas, causing flash floods, landslides, inundation of thousands of homes, and crop destruction.

Experts say the severe impacts of the monsoon season have become the new norm as rapid urbanization, upstream dams, and poor drainage systems exacerbate the country’s vulnerability to climate change.

Areas from the northern to the southern parts of the country have struggled to cope with heavy rains through October, but a cluster of locales have been hit the hardest, including the central coastal city of Da Nang, and the adjoining Quang Nam and Thua Thien-Hue provinces. In mid-October, officials put the natural disaster risk at its highest level in the three locations.

Nearly 5,000 people were evacuated from Da Nang, Vietnam’s third-largest city on October 14. That day, flood waters reached as high as 1.5 meters in some areas of the city. Da Nang education officials closed schools October 16 because of flood threats, keeping 276,000 children home.

The stormy weather also has led to fatalities. Nine people died amid floods and landslides in September, according to the National Steering Center for Natural Disaster Prevention. In October, a 61-year-old and a 13-year-old in coastal locales were found dead after being caught in floods, and four South Korean tourists died after their car was swept away in a flood in the Central Highlands city of Dalat.

Although there are efforts to promote flood resilience, current programs fail to address the magnitude of the issue, Nguyen Hong Quan, associate professor at Vietnam National University and leader of the Institute for Circular Economy Development in Ho Chi Minh City told VOA.

“The current strategy and solutions are not enough to cope with [flooding]. We need much more than that,” he said. “It is very complex. It is not an easy task.”

Upstream dams

Vietnam is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change, with a 3,200-kilometer coastline and much of its population of 100 million in low-lying cities and river deltas.

“The country faces many climate-related hazards, including rising sea levels, extreme rainfall, and storm surges,” wrote Vo Quang Tuong, lecturer at Ho Chi Minh City Open University who specializes in hydrology, by email.

Source : VOA News

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