Vietnam October 2011: This month multiple powerful storms have caused havoc in the Philippines and have also lashed the coastal regions of northern and central Vietnam. The storms are testing the measures taken in the past years to reduce the risks of such disasters and the preparedness of the local population.
The Nga Bach commune in Thanh Ho province has for months been mobilised to stay alert and prepared. Villagers met with local officials to map out the most serious potential threats facing the village, including the possibility of the nearby river bursting its banks, and high winds damaging public buildings and private homes. "Evacuation routes were checked, storm shelters stocked and all early warning systems such as loudspeakers and information billboards upgraded" explains Mr Houng Dinh, the Vice Chairman of the People's Committee of Nga Bach Commune.
This project supported by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) and implemented by the NGO CARE- International has also been providing assistance to famers whose rice paddies have been damaged by the salt water brought in by typhoons and floods. By switching from rice to sedge cultivation which requires a delicate mix of fresh and salt water, farmers are able to restore their livelihoods even when their fields are swamped with salt water from the nearby sea. The sedge grown here is of such high quality that it is exported to China and as far afield as South Korea. Farmers now earn up to four times more from sedge than they did when they cultivated rice.
With the help of ECHO and its partner, farmers have been able to turn this negative effect of frequent storms into an economic opportunity, thereby strengthening the resilience of their community.
Photo Story by: EC/ECHO/Mathias Eick, 2011