A Visible and Empowered Woman in Disaster Risk Reduction

A Visible and Empowered Woman in Disaster Risk Reduction

Publication info

Lien Ha Thi Kim, CARE

My name is Ms. T. I am a poor 60-year-old single, disabled woman who has lived in the isolated coastal commune of Nga Bach, Vietnam for the last 50 years.

The community I am living in has long suffered from floods, storms and drought. During the flood season, most of the households here have no electricity or running water. People also find it difficult to have sufficient fresh water for cultivation because of the sea water intrusion into their fields. The commune has a high rate of unemployment and the youth are migrating to the main cities for a job.

When I was young – during the Vietnam War – I had an accident that affected my back bone. As a result, I could not work and had to fully rely on my parents, sister and brother’s income. Then time passed and my parents died, my sister and brother married and left the house. I stayed alone. I was very sad and often cried.

After a giant storm hit in 2004, my house was damaged and the roof was taken away. Floods damaged my cupboards, furniture, bed and other household goods. My food was completely wet and spoiled. I cried all the time, and I wished I had a husband to share my distress with him.

In 2011, thanks to CARE and the local Women’s Union, I had the opportunity to participate in seven trainings and workshops on disaster risk reduction, known as DRR, and the prevention of diseases during flood and storm seasons. I learned many things about disasters and what I could do before, during and after them to regain control of my life.

I worked with the Women’s Union to plan and organize 18 communication sessions for other women in the nine villages of my commune. I was interested in participating in performing plays on DRR and disease prevention. Through the project, I was able to support other single women like myself and other vulnerable people in the community. I gained knowledge and skills on DRR prevention while involved in awareness raising activities in my community.

I found my life more meaningful, looked at things more positively and forgot my loneliness and my sorrow. I became an agent of change in mobilizing ther women in the neighboring commune of Nga Bach.

I thought that the awareness-raising activities on DRR and prevention of disease were very useful and practical for all members of my community - women, men and children. I now believed that if at the time of the storm, I had some knowledge on DRR, my house would not have been damaged like that.

With the support from CARE, we also had more places to get safe water and new roads that could be used to evacuate people rapidly during emergencies. People in the community contributed to the costs of these mitigation activities. They participated to the construction of the roads through their time and provided funding to buy the cement.

When another big storm hit our commune in 2011, I followed the messages I had learned from the project: listening to the radio, stocking up on food and strengthening my house against the wind. I also supported other people, some who were evacuating to safer areas and others strengthen their houses. When the storm came, people were safe and no houses were damaged.

This project changed not only my life, but the lives of 30,000 people living in the three coastal communes of the district of Nga Son. I was proud to have been able to contribute to the success of the project and now people in my commune have gained the tools and skills to be better prepared to respond to the next storm and floods.

Ms. T, 60, stands with her bicycle next to her dog. The CARE-DIPECHO Project in Thanh Hoa provinces has improved opportunities and skills for her and the people in her community. They have been trained to be better prepared to respond to storms and flood, as well as access to safe water points and new concrete roads for evacuation.  © 2012 Lien Ha Thi Kim/CARE