Cities not ready for climate change: experts

April 17, 2017 - 09:00

Most Vietnamese cities lack the capacity to confront climate change challenges, experts say, calling for greater preparedness efforts.

A flooded alley in District 12, HCM City. High tides broke sewer No. 4 in the district’s Thạnh Xuân 25 Street during the rainy season in October last year, flooding the neighbourhood and disrupting the lives of residents. — VNA/VNS Photo Mạnh Linh
Viet Nam News

HA NOI – Most Vietnamese cities lack the capacity to confront climate change challenges, experts say, calling for greater preparedness efforts.

Cities have to be ready to adapt to new situations and unexpected developments, ensuring essential services to residents at all times, they add.

Surveys done by the Urban Development Agency under the Construction Ministry have found cities in mountainous areas particularly vulnerable to natural calamities.

In Lào Cai City, capital of the eponymous province, and Gia Nghĩa Town, Đăk Nông Province in the Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) region, it was found that transportation facilities and potable water supply systems were not equipped for emergency situations.

The studies also found that the early warning systems for storms and flashfloods were not completed in several cities.

In the Tây Nguyên region, urban areas like Gia Nghĩa Township have not been able to supply residents with clean water during prolonged drought, badly affecting daily life and production.

Urban development plans prepared by local administrations failed to include solutions for climate change impacts, the agency found.

Major cities, too

For instance, HCM City has been suffering flooding on a regular basis because 72 per cent of the land area is lower than sea level. About 12 per cent of the city’s residents, 47 per cent of them poor, are hit hardest by the flooding.

From 2005-2011, the central city of Đà Nẵng was hit by 14 storms that destroyed about 15,000 houses and 26,623ha of forests.

According to the Institute for Social and Environment Transition (ISET), about 300 coastal urban areas have been suffering climate change impacts, including flooding, saline intrusion, and big tides; and nearly 150 urban areas in the mountainous areas have been affected by land erosion, flash floods, and drought.

Experts emphasise that not factoring climate change in the urban planning process has not just made cities more vulnerable, it has also worsened the impacts.

In many urban areas, infrastructure development has not kept pace with increasing population. For instance, most areas do not have separate drainage systems for rainwater and wastewater, and in some cases, existing systems are so degraded that they meet just 60 per cent of demand.

“Climate change is unpredictable and variable,” Nguyễn Hồng Tiến, head of Technical Infrastructure Department under the Construction Ministry told Nhân Dân Cuoi Tuan (The People) Weekly.

“Meanwhile, urban cities’ infrastructure works have not been designed and built to respond to specific natural calamities,” Tiến said.

“According to weather experts, new records are likely in terms of temperature and rainfall as well as frequency of natural calamities in the coming years. So the losses suffered would be much worse if preventive measures are not prepared,” he said.

Bạch Tân Sinh of the Institute for Science and Technology Strategy and Policy said there were many shortcomings in getting urban areas adapt to climate change in Việt Nam.

"These include lack of capacity among local administrations, lack of investment and weak knowledge and awareness among both officials and the general public," he said.

"At present, there is no regulations on associating measures of climate change adaption with the socio-economic development in general and urban development plans in regular," Tân said.

Tiến called for the development and application of advanced space and remote sensing technologies to get early warnings about natural disasters as well as development of infrastructure adaptable to climate change impacts, including natural disasters. -- VNS