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Aug 31, 2021 / 21:34

Belgium continues to assist Quang Nam in management of natural hazards

It is the continued support of the Belgian Government to Vietnam to effectively respond to the challenges of climate change and natural disasters.

Belgium has continued to assist the central province of Quang Nam in the management of natural hazards through the expanded VLIR-UOS funded project.

 The mountainous region of Da Bac District, Hoa Binh Province. Photo: The Embassy of Belgium in Hanoi

According to the Embassy of Belgium in Hanoi, the project “Capacity building on disaster management for the mountainous region of Da Bac District, Hoa Binh Province” was approved to be expanded to Nam Tra My District, Quang Nam Province. 

The project, funded with EUR35,000 (nearly U$41,400), will be executed by the Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources (VIGMR) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), the Belgian partner, in 20 months (2021–2022). 

This project emphasizes 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 the devastating landslides in the central region of Vietnam, the likes which occurred in Quang Nam Province last October.

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, is acknowledged by the Belgian Minister for 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.” 

The Belgian Ambassador to Vietnam Paul Jansen said: “After offering urgent humanitarian aid to the affected population, Belgium also wanted to contribute to solutions for disaster management and to reduce the risks of disasters for the people in the future.”

He added the results obtained from 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.

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

This project aims at going 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. 

“The project will help 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, organizations, and governments) to make recommendations,” Dr. Nguyen Quoc Dinh, VIGMR Project Manager said.

The project contributes 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. 

It 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/management.

“Local policymakers, risk managers, and communities-at-risk are at the core of our project. They contribute in designing the research, collecting data, and developing meaningful research outputs, leading to more sustainable impact,” VUB Professor Matthieu Kervyn said.