Vietnamese villagers experience first-ever disaster simulation exercise
Local government officials in Quang Nam province trained the community on mitigating disaster risks and “evacuated” more than 250 people with the support of HFH Vietnam
HO CHI MINH CITY (April 22, 2015) Although they live in a flood-prone region, villagers of Que Phu commune in central Vietnam had not heard of disaster simulation until an exercise supported by Habitat for Humanity Vietnam took place. Local authorities carried out disaster simulation activities in the commune located in Que Son district, Quang Nam province, with the support of a consultant hired by Habitat.
A total of 256 people from the commune and 13 local government representatives were involved in the simulation exercise. Earlier, staff of HFH Vietnam conducted training from November 6 to November 7, 2014, for representatives of the local government on carrying out a simulation exercise.
On November 26, a siren sounded to warn villagers of a “disaster”. It the first time that such a simulation exercise was conducted in the commune since Vietnam became independent in 1975. Villagers were taught to reinforce their homes a few days before evacuation and learned to evacuate from their homes promptly and calmly.
With a few essential possessions, more than 200 villagers including the elderly, women and children left their homes and walked 2.5 kilometers, or 45 minutes, to a building that was turned into a safety shelter.
When there are no disasters, the building that is constructed by the local authorities is used for cultural activities or meetings. The local government had committed to using the building for evacuation purposes during disasters. The building can house up to 400 people who can take refuge for several days until a storm or flood subsides.
It was not only the villagers who showed enthusiastic support for the simulation. Four other communes Que Phong, Que Chau, Que Xuan 1, Que Xuan 2 which plan to conduct their own disaster simulation exercises, also sent representatives to learn from Que Phu’s experience. Officials from the commune level to the provincial level were positive about the exercise and lent their support by planning and organizing the simulation with the help of the Habitat consultant.
The simulation exercise was part of a 22-month community-based disaster risk mitigation project in Quang Nam funded by Habitat for Humanity Australia.
Habitat for Humanity began working in Vietnam in January 2001 with its first project in Danang City in the central coastal region. As of June 2014, Habitat has enabled more than 13,300 low income Vietnamese families to improve their living conditions through decent homes, clean water and safe sanitation. HFH Vietnam has also provided training in areas such as disaster preparedness, financial education, and hygiene practices to more than 56,000 individuals. Visit habitatvietnam.org for more information.