HANOI, VIETNAM – 5 August 2013: Heavy rains and flash floods caused by tropical storms this month are causing considerable damage to rural infrastructure in northern Vietnam. Projected impacts from climate change threaten to make conditions in poor mountainous areas even worse in the near future.

“The current extreme rainfall from tropical storm Jebi has caused widespread destruction of roads, bridges and other rural infrastructure in Son La and Bac Kan provinces,” says Jeremy Carew-Reid, ICEM Director General. “This illustrates the challenges that local communities and governments face when heavily engineered structures are destroyed or damaged. Often budgets, equipment and materials are not available for repair.”

An ICEM project, Promoting Climate Resilient Rural Infrastructure in Northern Vietnam (2013 – 2015), is aiming to demonstrate alternative, low cost engineering solutions to help communities build and protect climate-resilient infrastructure, using locally sourced materials and bioengineering techniques.

The project team plans to demonstrate the new solutions on two roads and two rivers in Bac Kan, Thai Nguyen and Son La provinces. Baseline fieldwork and community consultations have been completed at all four sites.

ICEM environmental engineer, Cameron McLennan, said: “It is vitally important to understand how local communities have been managing erosion with traditional bioengineering approaches. For example, we are collaborating with communities to understand better which plants have the deepest roots, which also mean they have better soil stabilisation properties.”

“Bioengineering uses local materials, plants and skills as much as possible, so indigenous knowledge can be incorporated into the design of more formal erosion control and slope protection projects. Local communities will then identify with the measures and will be better able to maintain and repair their eroded roads, bridges, fields, slopes and river banks, if they become damaged by heavy rainfall and increasingly severe tropical storms.”

> More information on the project to promote climate resilient rural infrastructure in northern Vietnam
> More news updates from this project