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Remarks by Kamal Malhotra United Nations Resident Coordinator, Viet Nam at UN Data Layering for Disasters Workshop

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Event: UN Data Layering for Disasters Workshop

Date: 25 June 2019

Venue: C1 GOUNH

  • Mr. Nguyen Truong Son – Deputy General Director, Viet Nam Disaster Management Authority
  • Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative
  • Colleagues from the UN Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience Group, Data Verification Group, INGOs and Viet Nam Red Cross
  • Distinguished guests,

On behalf of the UN Country Team in Viet Nam and the UN's Disaster Response Management Team, I would like to welcome all stakeholders to this workshop to share the outcomes of the "Data Layering for Disaster Preparedness Project".

Viet Nam is ranked, globally, as one of the countries that is most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This was recognized by the Prime Minister in his recent conversation with me and in his speech last week at the National Conference on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control where he said that Viet Nam is one of the ten most vulnerable countries in the world. I know that the people in this room today are probably more knowledgeable than anyone about how this reality plays out year after year in terms of natural disasters. Recently, we have witnessed the extensive El-Nino induced drought and salt water intrusion in 2015-2016, and the intense storm seasons of 2017 and 2018 - these disasters highlighted the devastating impacts of both slow and sudden-onset natural disasters in Viet Nam, and how the most vulnerable groups such as the poor, children, women, and ethnic minorities often are amongst the most severely affected.

The UN has been working in Viet Nam for over 40 years, seeking to contribute to a Vietnamese society which is greener, healthier, better educated, and more inclusive and empowered to reach its full potential within the overall framework of the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Meeting the challenges posed by the impacts of climate change and natural disasters requires a broad range of responses across sectors, levels of government, and organizations. With these objectives in mind, the work of 18 UN entities operating in Viet Nam is brought together through the common partnership framework, the "One Strategic Plan" for 2017-2021, which strives for a United Nations which works for all, tirelessly striving to Leave No One Behind.

Disaster Response Management is one of the areas where the UN can truly excel as One, acting together to use the talents and expertise of the UN Agencies in Viet Nam to bring about timely life-saving assistance. The UN in Viet Nam carried out two large-scale responses under the Central Emergency Response Fund from 2016 to 2018, which saw us working closely with the Government, NGOs and Viet Nam Red Cross and other partners to reach more than half a million beneficiaries. Activities addressed the most urgent and live-saving needs for water and sanitation, health, nutrition, food security, and shelter to ensure that those facing the most severe impacts of droughts and typhoons could avoid falling into crisis, recover and rebuild their livelihoods.

What followed the response efforts were some processes in which we as a One UN family looked back to examine what worked and what needed improvement in how the response was carried out. While there were many lessons learned and activities initiated to improve future responses, one of the key messages received was that speeding up the delivery and efficiency of assistance to more vulnerable beneficiaries was essential.

Working with a small budget under the UNDG (now UNSDS) /DOCO (now DCO) Delivering Together for Sustainable Development Facility (DTF), this project set out to find ways to reduce the crucial gap between the time when a storm makes landfall and when high-level officials have the information they need to make informed decisions about whether to give the green light for action. In the era of social media and digital technologies, there is an essential need to improve data preparedness, real time data collection and use of geographic information for timely monitoring of humanitarian impacts, tracking of early action, and targeting resource needs. This project represents a collective effort across the One UN to gather the necessary data in all 63 provinces and build, refine and test the tools to use data more effectively, speed up processes and get assistance in place as soon as possible. It is therefore with pleasure that we share these tools today.

I wish to acknowledge the efforts of all UN staff and agencies that supported the Data Layering for Disaster Preparedness Project which was led by the UN Disaster Response Management Team's working group under the leadership of UNDP which did a lot of the work and should be congratulated for this. This project shows that significant strategic impact can be made with very modest resources, something I have seen in many projects that I have initiated, such as this one and I am therefore happy to witness this result again. I understand that it is Jenty's last few days in UNDP Viet Nam, or her last week, so allow me to particularly highlight her contribution to this project and more broadly and wish her well in her new assignment. On behalf of the UN in Viet Nam, I would also like to thank the Viet Nam Disaster Management Authority for our excellent continuing partnership. With the support of the people of Viet Nam, and in collaboration with all partners whom I also wish to thank, we will continue to strive for a United Nations which works for all, tirelessly striving to Leave No One Behind.

As we unfortunately move into a future which is likely to have more frequent and intense hazard events, I welcome the efforts of all key relevant partners who have gathered here today to learn from the past and to forge stronger partnerships for the future.

Xin Cảm Ơn!