Asian countries are at different stages of institutional development
with respect to disaster reduction. Some, such as Japan, have a long-established
system of disaster management. Stimulated by the International Decade
for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), other countries (such as Viet
Nam, see box) have either strengthened existing frameworks or are formulating
new ones (UNESCAP and ADB 1995).
Despite some recent achievements, significant measures and actions still
remain to be taken at the regional and national levels to reduce risks
and losses due to disasters, namely:
- the impact of environmental degradation needs to be examined - raising
awareness about the dangers of environmental degradation among the governments
and people is of utmost importance;
- deforestation should be stopped;
- mitigation and preparedness measures already undertaken must be strengthened;
- actions are needed to reduce poverty levels with a view to maintaining
the resource base and protecting biodiversity; and
- rural development is a prerequisite for reducing the migration of
people to cities and coastal areas.
|Being prepared: Viet Nam's disaster reduction
Viet Nam has a long tradition of disaster mitigation. When the
United Nations General Assembly designated the 1990s as the International
Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, Viet Nam responded by organizing
a National Committee and strengthening the role its Central Committee
for Flood and Storm Control (CCFSC) plays in disaster mitigation.
The CCFSC has developed programmes, plans and measures for disaster
reduction in coordination with other relevant organizations, directed
the implementation of disaster mitigation activities and coordinated
actions with relevant international organizations.
In the late 1990s, Viet Nam experienced a number of extreme events,
including Typhoon Linda (1997) in the southern coastal area. Although
the human and economic losses were tragic, agencies at all levels
strengthened their search and rescue capacities, resulting in tens
of thousands of evacuations. More than 5 000 people were saved by
these efforts. Once the typhoon abated, the government provided
assistance to the local fishing communities. As a result of this
and other disasters, the government took policy decisions for each
part of the country, including improving flood resistance and protecting
populated areas, by strengthening the system of dykes and flood
diversion structures in northern Viet Nam, policies to prevent and
mitigate flood damage in central Viet Nam, and the Mekong River
Delta policy which is designed to prepare measures for living with
floods and minimizing their damage.
In recognition of these achievements, the United Nations awarded
Viet Nam the Certificate of Distinction for Disaster Reduction on
11 October 2000, the International Day for Disaster Reduction.
Source: UNEP 2001