|Trần Quang Hoài, director of the Directorate for Disaster Management, speaks at the Lower Mekong Initiative Disaster Response Exercise & Exchange held in the central province of Thừa Thiên Huế on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy of the US Embassy
HCM CITY — Concerted efforts are needed to enhance cooperation between the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Việt Nam and the US in a number of areas, including education, energy security, food security, agriculture and health, Trần Quang Hoài, director of the Directorate of Disaster Management under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said.
Hoài spoke at the opening ceremony of the Lower Mekong Initiative Disaster Response Exercise & Exchange held in the central province of Thừa Thiên Huế on Tuesday.
Hoài said the event was especially meaningful in the context of the historic flooding that severely affected Huế and central provinces.
The four-day event is an annual US Pacific Command sponsored, multi-national exercise intended to enhance integrated sub-regional cooperation between the countries. This year’s emphasis is on flood response in the Lower Mekong region.
Typhoon Damrey made landfall in early November in Việt Nam, claiming 123 lives while destroying thousands of houses and important infrastructure with damages estimated at almost one billion US dollars.
Caryn R. McClelland, deputy chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Việt Nam, said: “The event is important since storms and disasters do not adhere to manmade borders or jurisdictions. Often, we see how neighboring countries must work together to solve regional issues.”
The humanitarian assistance/disaster relief exercise brings together more than 100 disaster management experts from a wide range of government and international organisations.
Major exercise activities include subject matter expert presentations, working group activities, a site survey and a Table-Top Exercise.
Working groups will focus on event themes, and participants will work together to promote communication and information sharing.
During the working groups, attendees will take part in panel sessions on specific topics and interactive events that encourage collaboration.
During the site survey, they will travel to saline-intrusion dam near the mouth of the Hương (Perfume) River in the vicinity of Huế, which will serve as a segue into the Table-Top Exercise.
During the Table-Top Exercise, representatives from member states will work together to develop a regional solution in response to a common disaster scenario.
Launched in 2009, the Lower Mekong Initiative is a multi-national effort intended to build local capacity and encourage effective regional collaboration across borders in an effort to overcome regional challenges.
In 2011, Việt Nam hosted a Lower Mekong Countries Disaster Management Workshop.
The first event in HCM City offered emergency preparedness and collaboration activities, and is now hosted each year by one of the six member states. — VNS