Viet Nam is extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts given its extensive coastline and river deltas, and highlands. In every ten people, seven living in inadequate shelters have to face the risk of typhoons, torrential storms and flooding, which hit Vietnam annually. The worst sufferers of the disaster impacts are the communities and people in the rural areas.
Huynh Minh, who has spent all his life in rural area of Mekong Delta, shared, “Things have changed drastically over the last few years. In the past, we suffered six months of salt-water intrusion, but now, this has expanded to seven months because of reduced rainfall. This means that we have less time to grow his rice crop and that the quality of the crop is also affected.”
To strengthen the disaster-resilient capacity of vulnerable communities in Quang Nam and Dong Thap provinces, Habitat Vietnam in a partnership with DFAT (Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) and Habitat Australia, undertook a holistic PASSA (participatory approach for safe shelter awareness) within a two-year CBDRM phase III project. PASSA is an approach that gives control over planning, decisions, and investment resources for local development projects to community groups allow creating partnerships where different actors provide adapted support based on the demands from the community itself.
This approach has changed the traditional way of working of the local government, in which the problems are solved from top to bottom (government-people) and built confidence in disaster preparedness for local communities. During the project implementation, villagers were trained on safe shelter and actively developed communal improvement action plans based on community priorities and available resources with gender consideration and PWD inclusion. 87 vulnerable households were served through improved housing conditions, and four action plans of disaster preparedness were developed by community members with the support from DFAT and Habitat Australia.
“PASSA is new but very meaningful for us, it brought the opportunities for the villagers to join the process meetings, where they can raise their voices, contribute their ideas, opinions for the action plans and engage with the community groups;” Thia (one of 100 iconic women worldwide and a key member of PASSA group in Hung Thanh Commune, Dong Thap province) shared, “People have changed their mind thoughts on safe and unsafe housings. Previously, many of them thought that living on the river edge was cool and airy, but now they realize that it might be vulnerable and risky for their families. Some households are planning to renovate their homes to make them stronger, safer, and more disaster resilient by utilizing the knowledge they learned.”
At the end of the project, over 7,000 people benefited from renovated infrastructures and facilities and awareness-raising events in two disaster-prone provinces in Vietnam. With the achieved results of the project, the local authorities have expressed interest in applying this approach to improving housing safety and other social-economic issues. Cuong, Vice Chairman of Hung Thanh Commune People’s Committee, said, “The PASSA integration meetings ensure more sustainability than the current practice of the commune, which just focuses on propaganda when storms are about to happen. Hung Thanh commune will continue to apply this approach in the coming time to strengthen communication and raise awareness on housing safety for people so that they can be proactive in responding to storms.”