By Ly Nguyen
It is a success story of Red Cross partnership that modestly continues year after year; one that has made a difference in the lives of many coastal communities in Viet Nam, including this year during the onset of typhoon Son Tinh.
For nearly 16 years, the Japanese Red Cross Society has been funding a mangrove reforestation project run by the Viet Nam Red Cross. The project, which aims to reduce the vulnerability of communities to disasters, has been carried out in six coastal provinces and successfully resulted in more than 1,600 hectares of mangroves.
In early November, 11 members of the Japanese Red Cross Society Kita-Kanto delegation took the opportunity to visit the project in Viet Nam.
Maniwa Kenichi, leader of the delegation, said they were pleased to see the success of the project first hand. “Our visit will also help the Japanese Red Cross determine how we can continue supporting the project,” he said.
Mangrove forests help balance the ecosystem. They protect river mouths and coastlines from erosion control, provide sea dyke protection, and prevent the accumulation and decomposition of pollutants and expansion of mud flats towards the sea.
When Typhoon Son Tinh hit at the end of October in the Bang La Commune of Hai Phong, some houses lost their roofs and many mangroves were destroyed. Nevertheless, the mangroves had protected the dyke from being broken by strong waves.
Without this protection, residents say, the damage would have been far worse.
Mangrove forests, a rich source of crabs and shrimp, also provide poor families with additional means of livelihoods through aquaculture and honey production.
Hoang Luong, a Viet Nam Red Cross staff member in Hai Phong said the mangrove project has contributed to consolidating the disaster management capacity of the organization. As part of the mangrove project, the Viet Nam Red Cross has organized training in three areas: emergency response planning for key staff, disaster risk reduction and climate change impacts, and emergency response.
In order to increase community awareness about the benefits of mangroves, the Viet Nam Red Cross has also collaborated with the Department of Education and Training to organize learning courses for primary school teachers and students.
“Our plan now is to build safe communities around mangrove plantations. It is a great approach to disaster risk reduction,” said Mr. Dang Minh Chau, Viet Nam Red Cross International Relations Department Chief. “And we are pleased to continue this strong partnership with the Japanese Red Cross Society. It is one of our strengths as part of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.”