Disaster mitigation for marginal communities has become one of the most significant development goals of the 21st century. Vietnam has been reported one of the five most vulnerable nations in the world to climate change and so serves as a useful case study in developing appropriate housing solutions after disasters. In addition, some local communities in rural areas of Vietnam still keep strong vernacular traditions in their housing which need intense consideration before employing any new techn
Risk reduction for housing is always one of the most important goals for post-disaster recovery. Risk is fundamentally perceived by three factors: Hazard, Vulnerability, and Exposure (Arambepola, 2002) or Population (Dao and Peduzzi, 2003). Hazard is a climate event, such as a flood or typhoon, potentially causing death, injury, damage of property, or environmental destruction. High risks only exist when highly vulnerable conditions or great exposures of valuable elements to a hazard are maintained. Disasters is likely to happen in cases of highly vulnerable conditions interacted with hazards (Awotona, 1997).
In 2004, risk was defined more precisely in the Pressure and Release (PAR) model where vulnerability was seen as a continuous progress from root causes to unsafe
conditions through dynamic pressures (Wisner et al., 2004). Root causes come from economic, demographic and political systems that stipulate the flows of resources to different groups of people in society (Wisner et al., 2004). An inadequate provision of or a limited access to resources is more likely to lead to an increase of vulnerability.
In rural areas of central Vietnam, people usually live closely to their livelihoods (rice field, lakes, lagoons, or vegetable gardens) and their sites are functionally attached to their socio-historical background. Moving or removing their homes to totally new locations is practically impossible for such economic and cultural reasons. Furthermore, the severely affected area of natural disasters often covers many provinces of Vietnam settled by a great population which make them difficult to escape from disasters. Thus, confrontation to disasters and finding solutions to cope with disasters is the only responsive way in central Vietnam.
More evidently in India when new lands were given for relocating communities in the hazardous areas after two earthquakes (1991, 1993) and one cyclone (1999). The relocation split communities into two or more clusters of housing due to the limited availability of lands (Kalra, 2009). In addition, the new location is far from their
traditional fields and water sources which affect adversely their livelihoods. In terms of planning, new patterns of housing resettlements are different from precedent social and cultural fabrics, unfamiliar to people and make them build themselves a separate cluster of housing nearby on given relocation lands (Kalra, 2009). Therefore, a relocation with many adverse effects to local communities has been used as a last solution (Kalra, 2009) after all other options are impossible.
Reported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), two of the four most frequent and risky hazards in the Southeast Asia are flood and typhoon in Vietnam (two others are tornado and flood-tide in East Timor) (IFRC, 2010). Even flood and typhoon have occurred frequently in the Philippines and Indonesia also, but their levels of risk is ranked as medium whilst higher levels of risk is given to Vietnam (IFRC, 2010). It is because of the geographical disadvantage of Vietnam’s location since the country is situated in one of five storm beds in the Asia-Pacific region where many tropical cyclones originate annually (JANI, 2008), usually followed by heavy rain and flooding (Donald and Michele, 2011), to which the long coastline of central Vietnam shows more exposure. In Vietnam, typhoon is seen as the most hazardous disaster with enormous loss an damage in human life and property, followed by flood and landslide respectively (Huy and Shaw, 2010). Therefore, potential hazards from floods and typhoons are
obvious and unavoidable.
Natural disaster and housing have a close linkage in developing countries where, according to Ahmed (2011), housing is considered as the most valuable property for people. In order to cope with extreme climate events, they tend to take their individual actions, such as constructing stronger houses as in their mind or moving to safer places (Davis, 1978). Over two decades ago, badly constructed homes were already known as one of the root causes to increase level of risk to natural disasters (Davis, 1978). According to Lyons (2009), housing is exposed the most damage and loss from natural disasters and represents significant decreases in national economies (Ahmed, 2011). In addition, Gilbert (2001) claimed that, available funds for post-disaster recovery in the world have not increased, but the proportion spent on post-disaster housing reconstruction has significantly gone up (Lyons, 2009).
In Vietnam, for a very long time, people have strongly believed that housing is the first priority in their life, followed by mean of subsistence or livelihood. It means if people want a stable life or a better future, they need to have a house to live first. Therefore, people usually put the highest investments on their housing construction, repair, or improvement whenever financially affordable. This makes housing become one of the most valuable assets of Vietnamese people.
According to the national target-program to respond to climate change developed by
Vietnams’ Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment (2008), there has been a
considerable escalation in the number of floods and typhoons recently with difficult forecasts of their frequencies, severities and movement directions. An estimated of 80-90% of Vietnam’s population is affected by floods and typhoons (Vietnamese
Government, 2007) where central Vietnam is noticed as the most disaster-prone region of the country (Tinh et al., 2010). The provinces of central Vietnam have received the most adverse effects from natural disasters as compared to other regions of Vietnam (Nhu et al., 2011) and suffered five to seven extreme natural disasters yearly, mainly typhoons and floods (Tinh et al., 2010).