Making the Mekong River Delta more flood resilient

Project description

Title: Mekong Urban Flood Resilience and Drainage Programme
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Viet Nam
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Construction of Viet Nam (MOC)
Overall term: 2013 to 2020


Viet Nam is among the countries most seriously impacted by climate change. According to the World Bank, Viet Nam loses around two to six per cent of its annual gross domestic product (GDP) to natural hazards. Up to 70 per cent of Vietnam’s population is at risk of being significantly affected by natural disasters, such as typhoons and flooding. The Mekong Delta region is particularly vulnerable to climate change and flood-related disasters. At the same time, it is home to 20 per cent of Viet Nam’s population. Thus the high vulnerability to flooding negatively impacts the economic development, not only of the region but also of the whole country. During a flood in 2013, 280 people died and damage and destruction to approximately 160,000 buildings and 25,000 km of roads was reported.

Two simultaneous developments, namely climate change and rapid urbanisation further increase the negative impacts of floods on cities. In response, the Prime Minister of Viet Nam recently approved the strategic development plan to improve the flood management and drainage sector until 2030 with a vision for a sustainable development of the sector by 2050. There is still a lack of regulations, procedures and human and financial capacities at national and sub-national levels to implement measures that effectively deal with these risks in a sustainable way.


In three cities in the Mekong Delta, Ca Mau in Ca Mau Province, Rach Gia in Kien Giang Province and Long Xuyen in An Giang Province, Vietnamese authorities have improved urban resilience against flooding. People’s homes, quality of life and sources of income are now better protected.


The programme aims to build on existing urban planning, disaster management, early warning systems, and climate change adaptation by exploiting synergies between these fields. This is achieved by cooperating with the national government and local authorities to update the national policy and provincial regulations as well as flood modelling and multi-hazard mapping, combining and integrating sectoral and thematic efforts of different organisations and donors active in the project areas. Improving cross-sectoral and institutional co-operation will set the framework for a more integrated urban flood management approach and help to implement the national legal and policy framework. The project is co-financed by the Swiss State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO).

National Level – Legal and Policy Framework and Integrated Urban and Drainage Planning

Support in development of climate and flood risk sensitive national and local regulations, integrate flood risk management in urban planning and budget processes.

Typically, urban planning in Viet Nam is not effectively responding to emerging flood risks. Cities in Viet Nam overly rely on drainage systems that are not able to cope with the rapid urban development. The lack of operations and maintenance (O&M) of drainage systems exacerbates this problem. In the event of flooding, low situated areas are particularly prone to be affected. In many cases, these areas have a high population density. As a result of support from the programme, the government has adapted the national development plan for flood management and urban drainage systems.

Provincial Regulatory Framework, Flood Risk Modelling and Analysis, and Urban Planning Support

The Programme is supporting three provincial Departments of Planning and Investment in integrating climate change, flood management and early warning systems into the provincial socio-economic development plans (SEDP) for 2019, the main planning instrument. This will help ensure that the issues regarding flood resilience become a part of government planning and budgeting at different levels of local government, which is essential for long-term sustainability.

Provincial Disaster Risk Management

Urban flooding in the Mekong Delta can be reduced, but not completely avoided. The Programme is supporting the cities Long Xuyen, Rach Gia and Ca Mau to reduce the negative impacts of floods. This will be achieved through the timely access to data on weather events and critical water level increases. Through the use of early warning systems the costs and risks of flood events can be significantly reduced.


Main Outcomes:

  • The local environment, health and well-being of 32 million people living in urban areas is improved thanks to better flood proofing in accordance to the national development plan to 2025, vision to 2050 and other policies and decisions.
  • On provincial level the Programme has improved livelihoods and quality of life for 3.4 million people including marginalised groups. Children are kept safer.
  • Over 1.5 million people and their livelihoods have a reduced risk of being impacted by floods and storms through updated urban drainage plans.
  • With 3.40 Euro (the price for a cappuccino), we make a person’s live safer and protect livelihoods

Additional information