HA NOI (VNS)— Economic damages caused by natural disasters during 2008-12 accounted for 1.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, 0.5 per cent higher than the 2003-07 period.
The damage was estimated to be VND74 trillion (US$3.5 billion) during 2008-12, according to the Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and Deputy Chairman of the committee Hoang Van Thang said, "Poor implementation of infrastructure construction plan to mitigate natural disasters was the reason for the increase."
According to the committee, standards for building infrastructure in flood-and-storm prone areas were issued but had failed to adapt to climate changes that was having a strong negative impact on the areas.
Vice Chairman of the National Search and Rescue Committee, Lieutenant General Tran Quang Khue said that a flash flood swept away a village of northern mountainous Lao Cai Province in 2008.
But no damage was reported for Chinese villages nearby, he said. It was believed that China had built bridges and drains to manage the flood water, he said.
"The programme to reduce and mitigate natural disasters should regulate that infrastructure built for socio-economic development must meet disaster standards," he said. Transport works should not be obstacles to draining floodwater and hydro-power plants should not be obstacles to irrigate crops, he said.
Nguyen Xuan Dieu, a member of the Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control, said road construction in some localities hadn't taken account of dykes and drainage systems and vice versa.
For example, dyke systems in the provinces of Bac Ninh, Hung Yen, Phu Tho and Vinh Phuc have been broadened to serve demands, he said.
And the provinces' dyke systems connect with Ha Noi's dyke system which hadn't been expanded, leaving it prone to flooding, he said.
Also, Khue said, most houses in the central region were not strong enough to withstand floods and storms.
Dyke construction from northern Quang Ninh Province to central Quang Nam Province was behind scheduled, he said.
The committee warned that the provinces would face serious consequences due to climate changes if they failed to finish their dykes as scheduled.
Mekong Delta woes
Damages from natural diseases since the beginning of the year have cost southern Soc Trang province VND67 billion (US$3.3m) loss, officials have estimated.
The Mekong Delta province has suffered significant soil erosion recently, affecting more than 6,000 hectares of rice paddies, landslides and other unusual weather patterns.
The steering committee of flood and storm prevention of Ke Sach District has asked village and commune authorities in the district, one of the most affected areas due to its location near the Hau River, to consider relocating households where necessary.
Ke Sach District People's Committee Deputy Chairman Huynh Anh Dung said authorities were also looking at increased inspections of waterway vessels, with a view to adding emergency rescue equipment and rechecking important dyke sections. — VNS