Shifting to more proactive drought response in Viet Nam

Shifting to more proactive drought response in Vietnam


“That was an unusual drought that lasted for the longest time ever”, said Ms H’Vui who is one of the project beneficiaries, remembering the drought that occurred in 2015-2016. “We only had one cow, but she died because we ran out of fodder and water for her. We waited in line to collect water, but there were too many people gathered at the public well and there wasn’t enough water for all of us. We heard from authorities that we might be seriously affected, but almost ignored the warning. If we knew that it would affect us this badly, we would have saved water.”

Learning from the extreme drought that affected large parts of Viet Nam in 2015-2016, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Save the Children International in Viet Nam jointly ịmplemented a project entitled, “Drought forecast-based financing (FbF) for food security, livelihoods and water, sanitation and hygiene in Viet Nam”. It was supported by the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.

The project has helped communities effectively prepare for drought by introducing FbF and Early Warning Early Action (EWEA) systems. An FbF/EWEA mechanism aims to reduce human suffering and loss by acting in anticipation of an extreme event in the window of opportunity between the event’s forecast and its occurrence, rather than responding to it after it has occurred. The mechanism is based on risk analysis and forecasts that utilize triggers, which signal when early actions should be employed. Importantly, the mechanism enables access to funding for early action and preparedness for response. This project specifically pilots how an FbF/EWEA approach can be translated into the context of Vietnam and how it can be institutionalized into the country’s disaster management framework.

The project’s first phase identified three result areas: forecasting and early warning, developing early action plans and institutionalization of FbF. Key outputs of the project have included the identification of drought risks in the two pilot provinces of Ca Mau and Gia Lai, a drought forecasting index, a list of early actions for drought, and insight into possible financing mechanisms, all of which are indispensable building blocks in constructing an automated system for forecast-based early action to mitigate the impact of disasters. These achievements are important steps towards establishing an EWEA mechanism for drought in Vietnam. A number of important lessons learnt have been identified through consultations with project stakeholders in preparation for the second phase of the project, which will focus on institutionalization of the FbF/EWEA approach into the national response mechanism.

“Hearing the early warning about the forecasted drought, I am extremely encouraged because our authorities and the project will support us in finding the right way to respond”, Ms H’Vui shared earnestly. As part of the project, cash grants were distributed to vulnerable households like that of Ms H’Vui to help them improve their drought preparedness. Ms H’Vui stated that she “will spend the distributed money and family savings to buy a new cow”.