Program: Collaborative Research for Common Regional Issues (CRC)

Field: Natural Disaster

Principal Investigator: Assoc. Prof. Dr. NGUYEN Danh Thao

Sending University: Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (HCMUT)

Japanese Co-Investigator: Prof. Dr. Tomoya SHIBAYAMA

Japanese University: Waseda University

Year: 2013


Vietnam stands on an ancient geological foundation at the edge of the Euro-Asia continent. The country is
delineated by 3,260km of coastline, which annually suffers from the severe effect of natural disasters. In the last
decade (1999-2008), coastal natural disasters in Vietnam, such as typhoons, floods, droughts, sea level rise, and
erosion of dunes and dikes, have caused significant economic losses. This damage has been estimated to be
equivalent to 1.5% of the annual GDP, and there have been over 7,500 casualties resulting from them during this
period. The effect of natural disasters in Vietnam on human settlements has become increasingly more severe in
terms of magnitude, frequency and volatility and there is the need to formulate a national strategy for natural
disaster prevention, response and mitigation.
Furthermore, it is expected that in the future the development of coastal areas will continue and this is expected to
progressively increase coastal vulnerability. Climate change will likely increase risk and vulnerabilities in coastal
areas, making it imperative to understand how infrastructure should be planned for. For example, a breakwater
constructed for today’s conditions could be under-designed for the conditions of tomorrow.
For instance, the nuclear power plant project in NinhThuan Province (center of Vietnam), for which the central
government has shown a strong commitment, requires a careful investigation of the disaster risks and possible
prevention and mitigation measures. However, the present level of disaster evaluation and mitigation measures
available are far from adequate, as the applicants pointed out in a previous study.
The present research aims to investigate and assess the current natural disaster vulnerability of coastal areas in
Vietnam and Thailand. After that, an action plan for disaster prevention and mitigation will also be proposed. The
leading members of the project (in Vietnam, Thailand and Japan) are actually already involved in a project that
will form the starting point of the project proposed for the AUN/SEED-Net. This project (from the friends of
SATREPS, which is a research program of the Japan Science and Technology Agency) has involved building a
large network of Vietnamese and Japanese scholars, civil servants and other officials to improve disaster risk
management in Japan (Project period: Nov 2011 – Mar 2012). This SATREPS project aims to assess the
vulnerability of coastal areas to natural disasters and to improve the expertise of Vietnamese local, regional and
national civil servants and academics. In fact, the field surveys were carried out at a few cities in the southern part
of Vietnam (PhanThiet, Mui Ne, Can Tho, and Ba Dong), and one joint seminar with the local authority of
PhanThiet was held on January 2011 (see Figures 1 and 2). However, as the project period was limited in time (5
months) the activities carried out were only preliminary, and should be followed by more detailed research and
training activities. The applicants are thus proposing that AUN/SEED-Net funds the continuation of this project,
to expand it from the southern area of Vietnam to encompass the complete coastline of the country as well as for
the case of Thailand. The project will also significantly enhance the technological capabilities of various
institutions in the region.
The focus of the project will be in training the next generation of leaders, and as such it is important not only to
increase their expertise but also to carry out an assessment of what is the current state of disaster preparedness
along the coastline. This assessment will be carried out with respect to seven broad topic areas:
1. Economic development
2. Coastal erosion
3. Coastal disasters
4. Climate change
5. Coastal zone management
6. Disaster prevention measures (Source: Application to CRC 2013)