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Vietnamese lady rebuilds her life at the age of 74

Survey and discussion with Ms Niu. Photo credit: DWF

Disasters hit the most vulnerable the hardest. As the International Day of Disaster Reduction is approaching, we pay tribute to survivors who have come out stronger from their tragedies. Our partners at Development Workshop France (DWF) share the story of an elderly couple who got help to rebuild their homes. 

Guillaume Chantry, DWF Project Coordinator

Ms Niu, 74, vividly remembers when Typhoon Wutip hit her home in Vietnam back in October 2013: “there was a large storm, house was entirely unroofed and doors blown off, and we were wet and cold.

Initialy, she and her husband Lan tried to repair their home as best as they could, with little building skills of their own and no financial support. They live from the crops of a small rice fields (only 2 'sao', the equivalent of 1 000 square meters), vegetable garden and pension of retired workers (€70 per month).

In 1988, after a labor accident, Mr Lan had to stop working, and Ms Niu managed to take care of the family. Their two children had to stop school after their ninth grade.

In spite of a strenuous life and the hardships endured during the war, they always thought that as a family, caring and sharing, they could overcome all obstacles. But after the numerous storms that hit central Vietnam since 1985, their small house built in a traditional style, was in dire need of proper refurbishment.

Given their vulnerable situation, the French NGO, Development Workshop France (DWF), used funds provided by the EU’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) to assist families such as Ms Niu and Mr Lan. After an initial survey, Ms Niu was ranked first on the priority list put together by the Commune. A DWF team discussed with Ms Niu how to improve her home. She received both technical and financial support to reinforce the house including strengthening the roof structure and roofing, the veranda, doors and windows. New roof tiles with concrete ribs were installed by local builders and Ms Niu’s family contributed to the placing of new floor tiles and a proper toilet.

Now in their old age, Ms Niu and her husband - together for 43 years, finally have a safe house to live in which can withstand the rain and storm seasons.

The ECHO funded project “Rebuilding typhoons Wutip and Nari affected communities in Central Vietnam” implemented by DWF in three provinces of Central Vietnam (Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue) helped 800 families to rebuild or strengthen their homes that were totally or partially destroyed by typhoons in September 2013. The most vulnerable populations were the main focus of the project: elderly, disabled, and female-headed families.

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