The Mekong region – consisting of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia – is frequently affected by natural hazards such as floods, droughts, and typhoons. With a majority of the population in these 3 countries mainly relying on agriculture, their means to earn a living are often impacted by recurrent disasters and irregular seasonal patterns.
Therefore, the EU funds projects that focus on enhancing community resilience and disaster preparedness, at both local and national levels. And when a disaster strikes, the EU supports the delivery of emergency relief items such as housing repair kits, hygiene kits, drinking water and unconditional cash grants to the most vulnerable communities.
What are the needs?
Storms, droughts, and landslides destroy homes and income opportunities and leave communities requiring shelter, food or medical assistance. Outbreaks of diseases such as dengue and malaria, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, put an additional strain on local health services.
Providing access to the affected populations living in remote areas can represent a challenge, especially when road infrastructure is damaged or not accessible for motor vehicles.
In Cambodia, 90% of the poor live in rural areas where seasonal monsoon rains and flash floods cause recurrent and widespread destruction.
In the neighbouring country,Laos, deforestation, illegal logging and dam breaks make people even more vulnerable to these recurring natural hazards. Disasters also take place against the background of widespread poverty, especially in rural and inaccessible mountain areas.
With its long coastline, tropical cyclones and storms are a regular occurrence in Vietnam. The local capacity to withstand and respond to natural hazards has been substantially enhanced in the last decade. However, emergency support is needed whenever large-scale disasters strike.
How are we helping?
In 2022, the EU committed €2.5 million to support disaster preparedness programmes in several Southeast Asian countries with a part of the funding strengthening disaster preparedness in the Mekong region.
These programmes aim to protect the most vulnerable population by (i) reducing risks to be affected by natural hazards or (ii) improving local and national response capacities.
The programmes explore new financing systems, disaster prevention and preparedness actions or initiatives to strengthen social protection.
The EU regularly funds humanitarian assistance to address the needs arising from recurrent natural hazards in the Mekong Region.
In 2020, the EU allocated €1.9 million to address the pressing needs of people affected by severe floods in the lower Mekong region.
EU humanitarian aid ensured unconditional cash transfers to help affected families cover their basic needs. The aid also included access to clean water, sanitation facilities and the promotion of good hygiene practices.
Following a drought and saltwater intrusion that affected large parts of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta in 2020, the EU provided €60,000 in humanitarian funding. This allowed a swift distribution of drinking water and ensured adequate hygiene practices among affected communities.
In 2019, the EU allocated €200,000 to address the most pressing needs of families affected by tropical storm Podul and tropical depression Kajiki that struck southern Laos.
In August 2019, when many parts of southern Vietnam were affected by floods, the EU committed €100,000 to provide crucial assistance to those most in need.
Since 2009, the EU’s total humanitarian aid to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos exceeded €41 million, including €36 million for disaster preparedness activities.
Last updated: 28/01/2022
Picture: © European Union, 2020 (photographer: Peter Biro)
Facts & figures
Funding for disaster preparedness:
€2.5 million in 2022 for Southeast Asia
€36 million since 2009
EU humanitarian funding:
More than €41 million since 2009