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Vietnam Today

WB: Disasters shave 1.5% off GDP annually

Released at: 17:21, 13/10/2017

WB: Disasters shave 1.5% off GDP annually

Illustrative image (Source: tuoitre.vn)

Conference hears that cost of rebuilding can outweigh cost of investment in disaster resilience.

by Ngoc Chi

Disasters cost Vietnam an average of around 1.5 per cent of its GDP annually, the World Bank told an international conference on October 13 marking International Day for Disaster Reduction.

The conference took place in the context of Vietnam’s northern region experiencing severe floods. Flashfloods and landslides struck Son La, Yen Bai, and nearby provinces, resulting in 44 dead or missing and economic losses amounting to $55 million.

In September, Typhoon Doksuri, the most powerful storm in recent years, killed nine people in central Vietnam, destroyed 193,000 houses, and caused losses of up to $385 million.

Over early October, torrential rains in northern and central provinces took water levels to historic highs. More than 80 people have been reported either dead or missing, and the economic losses are staggering.

In the event of major disasters, the cost to GDP can be as much as 4 per cent. More than 300 lives are lost on average each year, and agriculture is considered the sector most vulnerable.

According to experts at the conference, Vietnam could mitigate the risks posed by natural disasters by implementing an integrated disaster risk management strategy.

The country faces several key challenges in disaster risk management, however, including institutional fragmentation, ineffective processes for coordinated sectoral planning, and the absence of a cost-effective strategy for financial protection.

Participants discussed options to address the challenges, including clarifying and consolidating disaster risk management responsibilities across agencies and establishing robust systems for disaster preparedness and response.

Global best practice shows that effective planning and implementation begin with the right policies and the conference heard of examples in disaster risk management from different countries and sectors.

“The government has already made considerable efforts to respond to climate disaster risks but more still needs to be done,” said Mr. Achim Fock, acting Country Director of the World Bank in Vietnam. “Natural disasters can undo decades of development and the costs of rebuilding can be more than the costs of investment in disaster resilience.”

The conference also presented the key findings from “Toward Integrated Risk Management and Resilience for Drought and Saltwater Intrusion in Vietnam”, a report that studies the prolonged drought of 2015 and 2016 and illustrates the need for integrated disaster risk management.

A new program of technical assistance for resilience in the food agriculture sector, an activity supported by the Multi Donor Trust Fund for Food Price Crisis Response, was also launched at the conference. 

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