Many poor households in coastal areas are able to access a project to strengthen their housing for when storms and floods hit.
Four hundred and twenty five poor and near-poor households in Da Nang have received assistance to upgrade, fix or build storm-resistant houses under the “Storm Resistant Housing for a Resilient Da Nang City” project. The initiative was one of 12 winners of the “Idea of the Year” prize, organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December in Lima, Peru. All projects focused on four main fields: poor urban development, supporting women, financial support for environmentally-friendly investments, and information technology.
Storm resistant houses are specifically designed with stronger materials than traditional houses. The roof has an overhang that uses reinforced concrete to reduce the impact of severe gusts of wind. Rooms also designed with a reinforced concrete frame that provides shelter in a severe typhoon. Another difference in storm-resistant houses and regular houses is thicker walls, at 16cm to 20cm instead of 11cm, which enable them to better withstand storms and flooding.
According to Mr. Tran Phong, a technical leader at the US’s Institute for Social and Environmental Transition (ISET) in Vietnam, which was part of the project, most poor households use bamboo and plastic in their housing but these simply cannot withstand storms, so all housing materials need to be replaced by reinforced concrete. The walls and roof beams are connected by a wall bracing system designed to ensure that the house is able to resist the impact of winds from four directions. “We also make sure that houses in flood-prone areas have attics where families can escape to, and those in coastal areas have secure doors and windows,” Mr. Phong was quoted as saying.
Thanks to the design, all of the 245 houses in the project (except for one still under construction) withstood the effects of Typhoon Nari, which hit Da Nang in 2013. Conversely, in 2006 typhoon Xangsane resulted in the complete collapse of almost 1,300 houses and the partial or total loss of roofs of 13,000 houses in Son Tra district alone. Families frequently struggle to recover from storm damage to their homes due to low incomes and rising costs. Mr. Pham Van Tam, a fisherman in Tho Quang ward, Son Tra district, said that before receiving support from the storm resistant housing project his house was often damaged by typhoons. “Fortunately, since we received support from the Da Nang Women’s Union, my family feels safe when the storm season approaches,” he said.
With a total budget of $639,820, including nearly $420,000 in sponsorship from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Storm Resistant Housing for a Resilient Da Nang City project is a cooperative effort between the Da Nang Department of Foreign Affairs, the Da Nang Women’s Union, and ISET. Urban poor living in eight vulnerable wards in Da Nang are now better prepared to cope with storms, which are increasing in frequency and intensity due to climate change. The project aims to build more than 420 houses resistant to storms and floods by 2017.
Most poor households can easily access funds to upgrade or build houses to storm- and flood-resistant standards, according to Ms Le Thi Thu Hanh, Deputy Director of the Da Nang Department of Foreign Affairs. The beneficiaries of the project will be households who can access affordable loans for housing reinforcement as well as gain new skills and experience, which they will promote within their communities to build awareness of storm resistant housing and generate additional demand for credit access. The Women’s Union will also be a key beneficiary as it will develop skills for managing and scaling a fund for storm resistant housing and emerge as a key agent of change for climate change resilience in poor and vulnerable households. “The project has been limited by capital and human resources, but local people themselves have attempted to expand the project around the city,” she added. Thanks to these efforts, the project was recognized on December 12 by Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.
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