Promoting Climate Resilient Infrastructure in Northern Mountain Provinces of Vietnam


Vietnam is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. It suffers from typhoons, floods, droughts, landslides, and forest fires. Flooding triggered by typhoons and storms is the most prevalent natural disaster. In the decade up to 2005, storms caused 6,000 deaths, destroyed 320,000 houses and almost 9,000 boats, and resulted in capital stock loss of more than $2.5 billion, representing about 5% of gross annual capital formation.

This UNDP-GEF/SCCF project (2012 - 2017) aimed to address these obstacles through four specific outcomes which collectively seek to build long term resilience into the planning, design and implementation for rural infrastructure within the challenging geographic environment of the northern mountain provinces of Vietnam:

  1. Mainstream climate change adaptation into rural infrastructure policy and planning ;
  2. Enhance capacities for climate resilient infrastructure planning in northern mountain provinces;
  3. Support adoption of low-cost physical measures to climate-proof rural infrastructure; and
  4. Disseminate best practices and lessons learned. 

Project details

Based on historical averages, 4-6 typhoons currently reach Vietnam each year and batter the eastern seaboard over much of its 3,260-kilometer length. Typhoons cause storm surges and extensive loss of land through wave-induced erosion. The storm surges extend for considerable distances inland, flooding valuable land with salt water and causing loss of life, damage to agricultural production, infrastructure and disruption of livelihoods. The sea dykes constructed over most of the exposed length of coastline are vulnerable to damage by wave action and overtopping; and near-coast infrastructure including bridges, roads, schools, market places, and irrigation works are damaged or out of use during and after typhoons, storm surges and floods.

These problems are expected to worsen in the coming decades with the ever increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which accelerates climate change. Among the impacts predicted are sea level rise, an increase in the number and intensity of typhoons, and greater variability of rainfall. A recent study on the potential impacts of sea level rise on 84 coastal developing countries shows that a 1-metre rise in sea level would affect approximately 5% of Vietnam’s land area and 11% of the population, adversely impact 7% of agriculture, and reduce GDP by 10%. The government allocated 280 million VND (approximately $15.5 million) in early 2006 for sea dyke upgrades in localities often hit by storms and floods. This amount would marginally improve resilience to climate change impacts but is a concrete recognition of the urgency of the need to adapt.

Broad coastal zone policy has been developed in Vietnam and capacities of several provinces have been enhanced in terms of integrated coastal zone management. However, the effects of climate change have not been fully integrated into these efforts, and awareness of the likely impacts of climate change among policy makers, local planners and communities remains limited. National and local regulation regarding zoning, spatial planning and construction standards do not yet reflect the changing reality of increased typhoon activity and related storm surges, sea level rise, and enhanced drought in the central coastal zone.

The GEF/SCCF project aims to address these obstacles through the mainstreaming of climate risk reduction into policy formulation and coastal zone management as well as associated infrastructure development planning; capacity development to increase understanding of current and emerging climate risks and promote resilient decisions at central and local planning levels; and the demonstration of ways to effectively 'climate-proof' coastal area infrastructure with a view to systematically develop and apply climate resilient building codes and standards.

A central element of the project is to examine climate change related risks with local communities and officials, and to make the experiences gained from the climate-proofing of critical coastal area infrastructure work for vulnerability reduction at all levels, using entry points of policy and regulatory revisions as well as climate-resilient development planning. It does this in the context of substantial baseline efforts in policy development, coastal infrastructure development, and capacity building efforts of UNDP and ADB in Vietnam, which jointly make up a coherent program to address climate change.

The Government's 5-year socioeconomic development plan (SEDP) for 2006-2010 has a strong results orientation with performance indicators and gives priority to disaster-stricken regions in recognition of the link between vulnerability to natural disasters and persistent poverty. Reducing vulnerability is to be achieved by (among others) preventing and mitigating natural disasters. Embedded in its disaster risk management strategy is the concept of including measures to prevent and minimize the effects of natural calamities as a regular part of development programs and projects.

The Government of Vietnam is currently finalizing the National Target Program to Address Climate Change and Sea Level Rise (NTP), which outlines, among others, strategies to adapt to climate change impacts. The NTP calls for numerous responses to climate change, including  three points that the proposed project is directly aligned to support: (i) development and implementation of pilot projects to respond to climate change; (ii) strengthening the capacity of organizations and policies for climate change and specifically sea level rise; and (iii) international cooperation to implement the program.

The Government's approaches to disaster response, so far, focus on warning and structural measures. This is also expressed by the emphasis on infrastructure focus among the adaptation measures identified in Vietnam's initial national communication under the UNFCCC, which enumerated the following strategies in the coastal zone:  

  • Full protection: implemented all-sided protection measures to maintain present situation, effectively respond to sea level rise. This option requires to make all dykes higher and to strengthen coastal management. To prevent salinity intrusion, pumping for drainage and making land foundation higher would be very necessary.
  • Adaptation: reform infrastructures and habits of people living in the coastal zone to adapt to sea level rise. To accept some losses, paying special attention to build "adaptive" infrastructures and transfer to suitable farming techniques.
  • Withdrawal (also called "avoidance"): avoid natural impacts of sea level rise by resettlement, moving houses, and infrastructure from threatened areas. This option would also include natural mitigation from inundation area inland.  

Provinces are improving various coastal infrastructure as per the second element listed above, though not necessarily cognizant of additional risks and design needs that result from changing climatic conditions. This infrastructure construction happens partly with international official development assistance (ODA), including an ADB/ADF loan for upgrading infrastructure quality and availability in the coastal zone of central provinces. The proposed GEF/SCCF financing project intends to directly support such efforts, adding attention to climate proofing selected and representative infrastructure according to internationally developed methodologies, and building capacities for such planning and action in the pilot provinces where this happens as well as the central level. The project will also help translate lessons learned into adjustments to national and local strategies and regulations, especially regarding location and construction standards of selected types of small scale coastal infrastructure.

Source: UNDP Vietnam Project Identification Form (March 20, 2009)

Signature programmes: 
Climate-related hazards addressed: 
Level of intervention: 
Primary beneficiaries: 
Rural and urban citizens in critical economic areas subject to the adverse impacts of climate change, primarily in coastal zones.
Implementing agencies and partnering organizations: 
Viet Nam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
Provincial People’s Committees of Viet Nam
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Asian Development Bank (ADB)
Viet Nam Ministry of Construction
Project status: 
Financing amount: 
3,400,000 (as of November 2011)
Co-financing total: 
148,565,000 (as of January 2013)

Key results and outputs

  • Outcome 1: Climate Change Adaptation integrated into coastal zone management policies, plans and regulations
    • Output 1.1: Documented review of existing coastal zone development policies and provincial plans for their vulnerability and resilience effects to  projected climate change risk
    • Output 1.2: Updated coastal zone management and development policies to promote increased resilience of critical infrastructure in vulnerable coastal areas
    • Output 1.3: Development and approval of regulations to ensure that climate risk projections are included in the formulation of infrastructure zoning, design and construction
  • Outcome 2: Enhanced capacity to understand emerging climate hazards and address them through strategic risk reduction measures at the sectoral and local planning levels
    • Output 2.1: Enhanced technical capacity to integrate climate scenario information into coastal development planning with key sectoral ministries
    • Output 2.2: Awareness of climate change impacts in affected coastal communities enhanced and potential adaptation options for increased resilience of vulnerable small to medium sized infrastructure promoted
    • Output 2.3: Regular dialogue established between policy-makers and communities on the impacts of climate change on critical infrastructure in vulnerable coastal areas 
  • Outcome 3: Demonstrated and developed lessons learned from climate proofing of selected coastal area infrastructure
    • Output 3.1: Design of existing standards for coastal area infrastructure examined against different levels of vulnerability and risks
    • Output 3.2: Demonstration activities on the costs and benefits of climate proofing the most vulnerable coastal area infrastructure
    • Output 3.3: Selected coastal area infrastructure  - including rural roads, small-scale water supply and sanitation, irrigation schemes, and coastal protection measures climate-proofed for demonstration and replication purposes
    • Output 3.4: Codes and best practice manual in climate proofing of coastal area infrastructure developed and disseminated
  • Outcome 4: Experiences generated contribute to the Adaptation Learning Mechanism (ALM)
    • Output 4.1: Project lessons captured, classified and evaluated
    • Output 4.2: Adaptation knowledge and experiences from the project documented and disseminated within Vietnam, in the Asian region and beyond

Source: UNDP Vietnam Project Identification Form (March 20, 2009)


Climate-smart investments help save lives and properties in Northern Viet Nam

"Every year when the rainy season comes we live in worry. Worry about the harvest, worry if we can travel...Sometimes I need to go shopping for food and supplies but I can't because a landslide has blocked the road". To help communities cope with the impacts of climate change , in 2012 the Government of Viet Nam began working with the UN Development Programme and Asian Development Bank on a GEF-funded project, ‘Promoting Climate Resilient Infrastructure in Northern Mountain Provinces of Vietnam’.

Monitoring and evaluation

Project Start:

Project Inception Workshop: will be held within the first 2 months of project start with those with assigned roles in the project organization structure, UNDP country office and where appropriate/feasible regional technical policy and programme advisors as well as other stakeholders.  The Inception Workshop is crucial to building ownership for the project results and to plan the first year annual work plan. 


Day to day monitoring of implementation progress: will be the responsibility of the Project Manager, based on the project's Annual Work Plan and its indicators, with overall guidance from the Project Director. The Project Team will inform the UNDP-CO of any delays or difficulties faced during implementation so that the appropriate support or corrective measures can be adopted in a timely and remedial fashion.


Project Progress Reports (PPR): quarterly reports will be assembled based on the information recorded and monitored in the UNDP Enhanced Results Based Management Platform. Risk analysis will be logged and regularly updated in ATLAS.


Annual Project Review/Project Implementation Reports (APR/PIR): This key report is prepared to monitor progress made since project start and in particular for the previous reporting period (30 June to 1 July).  The APR/PIR combines both UNDP and GEF reporting requirements.  

Periodic Monitoring through Site Visits: 

UNDP CO and the UNDP RCU will conduct visits to project sites based on the agreed schedule in the project's Inception Report/Annual Work Plan to assess first hand project progress.  Other members of the Project Board may also join these visits.  A Field Visit Report/BTOR will be prepared by the CO and UNDP RCU and will be circulated no less than one month after the visit to the project team and Project Board members.

Mid-Term of Project Cycle:

Mid-Term Evaluation: will determine progress being made toward the achievement of outcomes and will identify course correction if needed.  It will focus on the effectiveness, efficiency and timeliness of project implementation; will highlight issues requiring decisions and actions; and will present initial lessons learned about project design, implementation and management.  Findings of this review will be incorporated as recommendations for enhanced implementation during the final half of the project's term.  

End of Project:  

Final Evaluation: will take place three months prior to the final Project Board meeting and will be undertaken in accordance with UNDP and GEF guidance.  The final evaluation will focus on the delivery of the project’s results as initially planned (and as corrected after the mid-term evaluation, if any such correction took place).  The final evaluation will look at impact and sustainability of results, including the contribution to capacity development and the achievement of global environmental benefits/goals.  The Terminal Evaluation should also provide recommendations for follow-up activities.

Project Terminal Report: This comprehensive report will summarize the results achieved (objectives, outcomes, outputs), lessons learned, problems met and areas where results may not have been achieved.  It will also lie out recommendations for any further steps that may need to be taken to ensure sustainability and replicability of the project's results.

Learning and Knowledge Sharing:

Results from the project will be disseminated within and beyond the project intervention zone through existing information sharing networks and forums. 

The project will identify and participate, as relevant and appropriate, in scientific, policy-based and/or any other networks, which may be of benefit to project implementation though lessons learned. The project will identify, analyze, and share lessons learned that might be beneficial in the design and implementation of similar future projects.

Establish a two-way flow of information between this project and other projects of a similar focus. 

Source: UNDP Vietnam Project Identification Form (March 20, 2009)



Keti Chachibaia
Regional Technical Advisor
Bui Viet Hien
Country Officer