Vietnam's economic reforms have helped many poor families to replace fragile shelters with houses built using materials
regarded as "solid". This substantial family investment remains at risk of damage or destruction by annual disaster
events - storms, floods and typhoons - because basic principles of safe building are not applied, nor is preventive action
taken by communities and individual families to safeguard the home and public buildings against unnecessary damage.
Failure to do so puts people at much greater risk of loss and injury.
Over two decades, Development Workshop France (DWF) has worked in Viet Nam to promote a culture of preventive
action to reduce risk of damage. Based on ten key principles of storm-resistant construction, some of which
have been drawn from traditional techniques, DWF trains local builders and technicians and undertakes a wide range
of awareness raising actions in and with communities to promote hands on preventive safety in poor villages. Once
sceptical, local governments now actively support the programme, which also strengthens local organizational and
This paper reviews the approach and the lessons that can be learnt from the DWF Viet Nam experience and that
of similar DWF preventive actions in other disaster contexts. It considers the opportunities and constraints to enable family
and community preventive action to become a core and ongoing feature of disaster management practice at community
and national level.
Keywords : Vulnerability Reduction, Hazard, Prevention, Typhoon, Climate Change.
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