Category Archives: Articles published by CDKN

Trees, cattle and power dynamics in Colombia

What do trees and cattle have in common? Read my new CDKN article on this issue.

Nowhere are development vs. climate change dilemmas and synergies clearer than in the Colombian cattle business. This land intensive system has been responsible for 90% of forest loss in the Amazon region from 2005 until 2010 –mostly in the Southern department of Caquetá, according to a report of the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) and the Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI), published with CDKN´s support.

It is likely that, in post-conflict Colombia, new challenges will grip people´s attention. Facing tough development questions while being true to international environmental and climate commitments will be one of them.

 

FEATURE: Where does Bangladesh climate policy go, after Paris?

CDKN’s Miren Gutierrez investigates the development trade-offs under hot discussion in Bangladesh as the country contemplates delivering its national climate commitments, following the Paris conference (COP21). 

As countries continue devising their climate action plans, aid for developing countries in order to mitigate and adapt to climate change remains on the negotiating table. For nations like Bangladesh–very much at risk from rising sea levels and other hazards—this is a key and complex issue.

Bangladesh is one of the planet’s most densely populated countries, situated over the large delta where three of Asia’s biggest rivers–Brahmaputra, Ganges and Meghna— meet. While cyclones and flooding have always been a part of life, they now appear more frequent and less predictable. River erosion has intensified and the sea levels have risen, carrying salty water farther inshore. In many places, life as people knew has disappeared.

For example, Bangladesh relies almost completely on groundwater for drinking provisions. Pumping water causes the land to sink; so as sea level rises, the risk of flooding increases even more. The country’s climate scientists have concluded that ‘by 2050, rising sea levels will inundate some 17% of the land and displace about 18 million people’, according to the report ‘Borrowed Time on Disappearing Land’, published in 2014 by The New York Times.

In the face of such challenges, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warned in 2014 that, although Bangladesh was working on plans to face climate change, ´new and additional resources will be needed for their implementation´.

In the wake of the Paris Climate Conference, the dilemma is not only about the sums that are to be committed as aid, but also how much of this aid is to be translated into policy and practices to cut emissions by shifting to green energy and conserve carbon reservoirs.

However, both challenges require different strategies and perspectives.

Bangladesh’s climate plans include adaptation and mitigation strategies, but will that be enough? And are they compatible? Adaptation is country specific, or even local specific, ‘but mitigation demands collective efforts of global communities,’ says the paper ‘Climate change, sea level rise and coastal vulnerabilities of Bangladesh with adaptation options’ authored by Lokman Hossain and Mohammed Kamal Hossain.

“If Bangladesh stops its total CO2 emissions at once,” conclude the same authors, the problem (climate change) will remain at the same extent, because it is an outcome of excess greenhouse gas emitting countries. Bangladesh is not self-sufficient to face such a large scale problem, either. So, global initiative should be taken to save the country, as it is a global problem, to a greater extent.”

As preparation for the climate summit, all countries worked on their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The objective was to create a new international climate agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that puts the world on a path toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. Developing INDCs was a process that identified these efforts, and analysed where there was potential to increase ambition domestically so all countries can work collectively towards reducing emissions.

But what do INDCs actually mean to a country like Bangladesh? Were they just about fulfilling an international requirement? Not quite.

“Sometimes you need to tick a box if you want to have your foot on the door. But once that is done, let´s talk about what others have to offer,” said Kashmala Shahab Kakakhel, an expert and a board member of CAN international. She is the former head of the CDKN initiative to advise the government of Bangladesh in preparing its INDCs.

“Bangladesh is one of the best examples globally of community-based adaptation. They have been taking care of themselves. It also leads the Least Developed Countries (LDC) group in issues such as loss and damage and climate finance. It comes to no surprise that premier (Sheikh Hasina) committed in NY, at the UN climate summit (last year), to realistic INDCs,” added Kakakhel.

Indeed, after every cyclone or flood, people in Bangladesh have rebuilt their homes, they have learned to grow rice and other crops in new ways, they have tried new farming methods to deal with salty water, or they have moved further inland and migrated.

Further efforts are being requested of Bangladesh, but “the idea is that your INDCs don’t hamper your growth, and Bangladesh is committed to becoming a Middle Income Country by 2021… Bangladesh can invest in renewables, put in place mitigation strategies with adaptation co-benefits, etc. and still prosper along an economic trajectory that commits to not go above the 2 tons per capita limit,” said Kakakhel.

INDCs were expected to work combining parts of a top-down system (in which countries together aspire decrease global emissions enough to control mean global temperature rise to 2 degrees C), with a bottom-up system (in which countries set forth their contributions in the framework of their priorities, conditions and capabilities). As a result, it is hoped that INDCs, combined, create a productive response synergy between national and international decision-making on climate change.

In the case of Bangladesh, “the bottom up approach refers to the individual actions on the ground that are good practice for replication at country level. Initiatives that, accumulated, result in a reduction of emissions,” she said. “For example: energy efficient systems in transport systems or LED lighting or the one million households that use solar[1]. While the top down approach consist of reviewing the total net emissions and an objective of where it needs to be to meet targets collectively. And then walk backwards towards those targets.”

Bangladesh has access to climate finance through the Climate Change Trust Fund (government) and the Climate Change Resilience Fund (multiple donors), which could help channel funds towards climate strategies.

But according to Kakakhel, this is not only a question of funds. “There is the transfer of needed technology, intellectual property rights, but also the level of preparedness in the country. Bangladesh needs money, but has to know for what. If you don´t plan properly and allow people to build houses in a flooding zone, it is not a question of putting the blame on climate change. You have to take ownership of your problems.”

For Nazneen Ahmed, of BRAC Institute of Governance and Development, Bangladesh´s efforts to shift to low-carbon growth are already “evidenced by the formation of the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) and also in the formulation of a number of plans and policies. For example, Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2009, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Master Plan 2030, and the Renewable Energy Policy 2008 that targets 10 percent of total electricity generation from renewable sources by 2020.”

However, how Bangladesh intends to exactly reduce greenhouse gas emissions “becomes unclear particularly in the face of the Rampal power plant issue,” she adds in an op-ed in The Daily Star. “This is because the potential threat Bangladesh poses to the Sundarbans by allowing the construction of the Rampal power plant contradicts its INDCs statement to the UNFCC, in which it recognised ecosystem conservation as a mitigation action – subject to the availability of external resources – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The 1320 megawatt coal-fired power station at Rampal Upazila –a joint partnership between India´s state owned National Thermal Power Corporation and Bangladesh Power Development Board— has generated criticism as the proposed project is been planned on an area close to the world´s largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.

In its INDC, Bangladesh projected the costs of ecosystem-based adaptation and conservation measures for 2015 to 2030 to be $3.5 billion –a figure which the country is probably expecting to meet with foreign aid. ´If natural ecosystems like the Sundarbans, which constitutes around 50% of the country’s reserved forests, are lost as a result of short-sighted and expedient policies like the Rampal, what would Bangladesh´s stance be in the global aid discourse?´ wonders the expert.

Ahmed warns also about the importance of the Sundarbans as a significant carbon sink, since the carbon storage capacity per square kilometre of coastal marine habitats, including mangroves, is 50 times higher than that of tropical forests, according to a report by IUCN.

Bangladesh is also developing coal power plants that are supposed to be “carbon neutral” as part of its climate change strategy and action plan (known as BCCSAP), and they have been added to the country’s INDC. However, Climate Home reports a slow progress in a January report.

Like in other countries, the implementation of the INDC is indeed a challenge in Bangladesh that has to do with developing without compromising both the economic and social development, future livelihoods and the environment.

Meanwhile UNDP is supporting the development of a National Adaptation Programme (NAP), which will be integrated with its INDC and BCCSAP; GIZ is revising the BCCSAP and updating it, adding more localised vulnerability assessments; and CDKN is supporting development of mitigation related sectoral action plans for energy, industry and transport sector from INDC, says Areej Riaz, Country Programme Manager at CDKN and Climate Finance and Readiness focal person at LEAD Pakistan.. “Although this shows momentum, there are many externalities yet to be considered,” she concludes.

Image: Bangladeshi woman, credit Amir Jina, flickr.com

[1] The Bangladeshi government aspires to deliver electricity to all households by 2021. With financial support from the World Bank and other donors, it intends to generate 220 megawatts of electricity for around 6 million households by 2017 by way of a solar home system programme.

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FEATURE: Resilient housing – A flourishing sector

FEATURE: Resilient housing – A flourishing sector

CDKN’s Miren Gutierrez looks at the potential for the prebuilt housing sector to increase the resilience of its products to climate change.

Modular, prebuilt homes are in fashion to the point that, in the United States, the demand for prefabricated housing is forecast to expand 15% annually through 2017, according to a 2013 report. Some of the expertise in the prebuilt housing sector is also dedicated to exploring new ways in which a house can withstand climate-related disasters.

The housing problem is no longer quantitative, but qualitative, according to the Global Compact Cities Programme. The organisation notes that “people tend to constantly improve and adapt their dwellings in order to better accommodate their changing needs.” Because housing is “a process, not and end”, say authors Sandra Moye-Holz and Constanza Gonzalez-Mathiesen in a report about Chile’s case published by the Global Compact Cities Programme.

But what does it all entail? Do all hazards pose the same sort of challenges? Is resistance the same as resilience? Tuan Anh Tran notes in a book about “Developing Disaster Resilient Housing in Vietnam” that there is a lack of consensus in defining resilient housing and a gap in academic literature on this vital matter for many communities around the globe.

For example, with regard to flooding, one of the most destructive climate-related disasters, Planning Practice Guidance  notes that “flood-resilient buildings are designed and constructed to reduce the impact of flood water entering the building so that no permanent damage is caused, structural integrity is maintained and drying and cleaning is easier”, while “flood-resistant construction can prevent entry of water or minimise the amount that may enter a building where there is short duration flooding outside with water depths of 0.6 metres or less.”

Picturing a flood-resistant house, one can think of most constructions along the channels of Venice, which are protected by double, water-resistant barriers. But what does a resilient house look like?

Under the Sheltering from a Gathering Storm project, with CDKN funding, the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-International (ISET-International) –an organisation that works with local partners to build resilience— launched in 2012 a “Resilient Housing Design Competition.”  It called for innovative storm resistant shelters for low-income households, and the winning model selected to be constructed was analysed for its resistance to typhoons, including strong winds and heavy rainfall.

Characteristics of these resilient houses include: the ability to absorb shocks; reinforced spaces that can protect inhabitants even if other parts of the house are destroyed or flooded; escape gateways; the employment of water-resistant materials in sections that are likely to be hit by floods; redundancy and modularity that allow the interaction of different components of the building; solid structures; simple forms easily built locally with local materials; and a flexibility allows expansion and adaptation when needed.

(Double click on the graphic below to increase its size for ease of reading.)

da nang
Source: A CONCEPT OF RESILIENT HOUSING DA NANG, VIETNAM, ISET

The competition involved local architecture schools and professional businesses, and called for climate-adapted shelter designs that are low cost, technically effective and culturally acceptable; the best-judged shelters were the subject of the cost-benefit analysis research.

“Shelter accounts for the highest monetary losses in climate-related disasters and is therefore a significant cost for governments, the private sector and non-governmental organisations working on disaster risk reduction or post-disaster reconstruction,” according to findings from the CDKN project.

The Sheltering From a Gathering Storm: Typhoon Resilience in Vietnam – one of three case studies in this project— focuses on key issues related to housing and providing insights into the economic and non-financial returns of adaptive, resilient shelter designs that take into consideration hazards such as typhoons, flooding and temperature increases.

The two-year research programme targeting peri-urban areas in India, Vietnam and Pakistan –where cities face risks from typhoons, flooding and extreme heat— identified practical solutions for resilient shelters and the long-term economic returns of investing in such shelter structures. The project was led by ISET-International in partnership with Hue University (Vietnam), Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (India), ISET-Pakistan and ISET-Nepal.

The Vietnam report concludes that some of the innovative housing solutions are affordable and economically viable, and replicable in other regions. In spite of this, since families with low incomes have limited resources, new public policies are needed to provide subsidies, promote micro-insurance, require multi-hazard construction standards, bridge low-income communities with experts, and improve awareness.

In Pakistan, in 2010, about 12 million homes were destroyed or damaged by heavy monsoon rains, according to a report by the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC). This is especially serious at the household level, since “the shelter is often the single largest asset owned by individuals and families, and the failure of shelters to protect people from hazards is a significant risk to lives and livelihoods,” according to the CDKN project.

Resilient housing is even more important when post-disaster response and relocation is considered. According to HPN, “normally, only 10 to 20% of housing needs are met, frequently with temporary rather than more permanent housing. To cite a few examples: one year after Cyclone Sidr the number of dwellings built by aid agencies in Bangladesh (2007) represented 7% of need; in Padang, Indonesia, after the 2009 earthquake it was 14%; and in the Pakistan floods (2010) it was 2.5%.”

In Da Nang, Vietnam, the community was involved in the “Resilient Housing Design Competition  and participated in voting for the winning designs. “This helped to create awareness of the possibility to build homes which could withstand recurrent storms at little additional cost,” says a CDKN guide[1]. A total of 244 climate-adapted houses were built. And the structures “withstood Typhoon Nari, which hit during the course of the project, and minimised human and economic losses compared with other homes.” The Da Nang city government has since introduced a policy that means all housing plans in the city should apply resilience principles.

[1] The guide’s title is “What does it take to mainstream disaster risk management in key sectors?” And the Da Nang case is already part of the literature on the subject.

Image credit: DFID

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OPINION: After Paris – “Going from intended to implemented, that is the question” says Margaret Kamau, Kenya

Kenya aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 relative to Business As Usual. This goal is subject to international support in the form of finance, investment, technology development and transfer, and capacity building. Margaret Kamau, CDKN´s Country Engagement and Project Manager talks to Miren Gutiérrez about what this target means for her country.

 

The Paris Agreement created an ambitious mandate for the global community. Does it change the national conversation in Kenya about action on climate change? If so, how?

Well before, for much of 2015, there has been quite a momentum in Kenya around preparations for COP21 [Editor: 21stConference of the Parties for the UNFCCC], the INDCs [Climate plans which countries submitted to the conference] and the Paris Agreement. A number of stakeholders were quite involved in the ‘road to COP’ process. I think that this kind of momentum has carried on in 2016.

From meetings that we had this February and March, we can tell there is a bit of uncertainty about “what next” with regards to the Paris Agreement. But the Government of Kenya is taking steps to clarify this. For example, in mid-February there was a meeting on the post-Paris situation with a wide range of civil society organisations and other stakeholders, where the government was able to explain what the next steps were and what the COP21 meant.

In two weeks, there is another stakeholder consultation session, now addressed towards developing the next steps after Paris. Now we are waiting to hear what the government has planned and what they need support for. I know they are also looking at the implications for Kenya’s growth and sustainable development. So I think the main influence COP21 has had is creating momentum before, during and after the event.

Ban Ki Moon visits geothermal plant, Kenya, courtesy UNEP

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon visits a geothermal power facility in Kenya; courtesy UNEP.

Are these consultations with civil society and stakeholders binding in any way, has the government been gathering their feedback, or are they just informative?

They have been mainly for information purposes, not to get feedback or to pass clear information on what the next steps are. But I believe the intention of the government is that the next meeting is to be more action oriented. Kenya’s civil society has challenged the government to take action to implementing the agreement. But not openly in the media.

As for coverage, media articles and news stories on climate change tended to be published before and during COP21, with different sectoral approaches. Since the Paris conference, we haven’t seen as much. Although that is not necessarily negative…

Kenya indeed submitted an ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’ (INDC). What will it take to get from ‘intended’ to ‘implemented’? What are the big opportunities and challenges?

That is the question. In terms of implementation, we believe the next step the government should take is to lay out the key priority actions in the climate action plan, and take them forward. There is the realisation that the actions contained in the INDC have been ongoing actions. So it is about accelerating investment to support implementation in those areas.

The big opportunities are first at a sectoral level. The energy sector, the forestry sector, the transport sector have all seen significant growth in the last few years. So those would be quick wins: sectors where there has been ongoing work.

In the energy sector, for example, there is already significant investment [in low carbon energy], but there is room for more. The next steps would be: identifying the actions, the key people and institutions to take those actions and accessing the finance required.

Another opportunity would be leveraging the momentum that the Paris Agreement has created to make sure that all stakeholders are aware of it, and employing this ongoing interest and buy-in for activities.

Finance presents both an opportunity and a challenge. We have different financing opportunities, such as Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which may be accessed to implement the country’s NDC. A Kenyan entity has just been accredited as the National Management Authority to access direct funding from the GCF. These are opportunities that the government is already taking.

NAMAs are being developed for the bus rapid transit system, another one for a grid of renewable energy and waste management. A geothermal NAMA was developed and is explored in CDKN’s Inside Story on Climate Compatible Development.

In addition, there is bilateral and multilateral funding: the governments of the UK and Japan and institutions such as the World Bank are funding elements of the NDC as well.

In the finance arena, the Government of Kenya has faced hurdles in producing investment plans and proposals that actually attract funding. Here, some investment may be needed in enhancing capacity for proposal development. A current CDKN project is supporting the government to write an adaptation proposal for the GCF. We are responding to a direct government request to help them fill a gap.

Other challenges include coordination. Over the past years, I think the government has improved its coordinated approach towards climate change and development. This has been particularly evident recently during the INDC process. But coordination across government remains a challenge which they continue to address.

Nairobi skyline credit Jonathan Stonehouse

Skyline of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital; courtesy Jonathan Stonehouse

The Paris Agreement calls for limiting average global temperature rise well below 2C, as close to 1.5C as possible. Kenya’s emissions are not huge, but they are growing fast – what hope to see economic growth and human development with lowered emissions in the specific case of Kenya?  

Using the energy sector is a good example. We have seen a significant increase in investments in the renewable energy sector, particularly in geothermal and wind power. About 50% of Kenya´s electricity[1] comes from renewable sources, and this is a number that is increasing on a daily basis. We think that this it is not actually hampering economic growth, because before geothermal power became the focus, hydroelectric power was being produced from dams. Obviously, that meant that during the power crisis electricity was quite erratic because of the reliance on hydropower [Editor: linked to reduced rainfall and river levels – the CDKN Inside Story explains further]. So the focus on this new generation of renewables is actually supporting growth because it is a more reliable source of power and businesses now have more reliable sources of power.

In agriculture, initiatives such as the one led by COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) to reduce agricultural emissions across Kenya and several other African countries will help combat climate change while addressing food security, from the policy level to the farm level.

We have seen initiatives and interventions to improve forest cover and to improve forest conservation resulting in a better environment for people and the communities living around forests. And this translates to improved human development and better economic growth. So far it has not limited economic growth either.

This will continue being a trend for the next couple of years. We still have untapped solar and wind resources. We are expected to have a large 300 megawatt solar farm in the next few years, which will only reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and promote economic growth.

kenya ihub courtesy UNDP

Technology hub, Kenya; courtesy UNDP.

If you check most INDCs from developing countries their emission reduction targets are subject to technology development, international climate finance and capacity building. What would happen if these ‘means of implementation’ do not flow? 

Countries like Kenya have taken some steps towards building internal capacity and using domestic financial national resources to put in place climate change initiatives. This is evident in some government-enabled food security projects, as well as in the setting up of research institutions, industrial research institutions, with technology development. If the means are not put forward, it is not to say that countries such as Kenya will not take action anyway. But the view is that action will be slower because obviously there are other pressing needs that the domestic budget needs to serve. It won’t be a large allocation for a long time, so this will slow the process in achieving sustainable development.

Why are some countries more successful than others in attracting international resources to support climate compatible development? Does their ability to negotiate have anything to do with it? How would you rate Kenya´s performance so far?

Definitely the ability of a country to negotiate in the international arena plays a huge role in attracting climate finance. But also, one thing that stands out looking at these countries have taken initiatives on their own. Brazil, Mexico and Morocco may have allocated domestic resources towards climate change initiatives. And this can help make a case before they go and negotiate climate finance. I believe part of making the case is showing what you can do with our own resources. I think that these have been countries that have been successful in doing this, and when they go to international arena they are not just asking for money. They are saying: this is what we have done and now we need more money to grow this pilot initiate.

Finally, Kenya not very well known for its negotiation power, but I think being part of the African Group of Negotiators has helped Kenya and fellow African countries to try to negotiate collectively. But [its influence] could be improved with further international support.

The SDGs have many climate-related components, as well as a dedicated climate goal. What are some of the ways that the SDGs will influence the planning and practice of development in Kenya in the coming years?

There has not been a lot of communication on the SDGs locally, since the New York summit last September. CDKN helped convene an SDG dialogue process in 2014 – to provide a platform for Kenyan voices in developing the goals. And what came out of this process is that Kenya would need more integrated planning, not just for key economic sectors, making integrated planning a habit if the SDGs are to be achieved. Kenya is also in the process of writing up a green economy strategy, which looks at how to maintain sustainable development while growing the economy.

 

Image: Kenya, courtesy DFID.

[1] Kenya is looking to geothermal energy to power its growth and reduce reliance on imports. As of 2015, geothermal accounted for 51% percent of Kenya’s energy mix (up from only 13% in 2010). Kenya´s also investing on wind, with Africa’s largest wind farm (310 MW) set to provide another 20% of the country´s installed electricity generating capacity. Those two combined will help Kenya generate 71% of its electricity with renewables in the future, according to CleanTechnica.

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FEATURE: Da Nang – A rising star, menaced by extreme rainfall

Miren Gutierrez uncovers the measures taken by a CDKN project to protect residents in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang from worsening rainfall in a changing climate.

Da Nang is one of the major port cities in Vietnam, and a commercial and transportation hub on the Central Vietnam. With its easily accessible port, at the opening end of the Han River, Da Nang is the leading industrial heart of central Vietnam, and according to Vietnam News, it has set raising targets of its industrial production value. This city is also an international tourist attraction. As a result, its GDP per capita is one of the highest in Vietnam.

Da Nang is also very vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events, such as typhoons and flooding.

According to 100 Resilient Cities, “for years, the city has been developing innovative models to enhance resilience to climate change… And despite the challenges, Da Nang has become an attractive destination in Vietnam for foreign investment. By late November 2013, Da Nang had attracted 279 foreign projects, totalling over US$3.31 billion.”

However, the tourism and service industries are likely to suffer “significant losses” when extreme weather events, such as typhoons and floods, strike the city, “if preventive measures are not carefully considered and incorporated,” says Phong Tran, the Vietnam Technical Lead of the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition (ISET).

Phong, a technical lead of ISET-Vietnam, has more than 15 years working on climate change resilience and disaster risk reduction in developing countries in the Asia and Pacific, particularly in Vietnam. ISET collaborates with local partners to build resilience and catalise adaptation to social and environmental change.

Rapid development in Da Nang is increasing flood frequency and severity in the city during extreme rain events. “Climate change will increase the intensity of extreme rainfall events in and around Da Nang,” says a report published by the Climate Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) in 2014. In 2007, for example, “a moderate rainfall event caused significant flooding in the city; flooding was clearly exacerbated by rapid development and urbanisation occurring in the floodplain.”

By the end of the 2020s, the CDKN report says, climate change could increase the rainfall intensity of such events by 3 to 24%.

In 2012 ISET, with funding from (CDKN), undertook a 2-year long analysis research project to evaluate the economic costs averted from building to storm resistant standards in Vietnam. TheSheltering From a Gathering Storm research programme, also implemented in India and Pakistan, targeted peri-urban areas in Vietnam to identify solutions for resilient shelters and the long-term economic returns of investing in such shelter structures.

The problem was that construction standards based on historical experience would not prepare houses and infrastructure for future events, which are to be more frequent and intense. “If the city continues to expand into low-lying areas without taking a multi-activity flood risk reduction approach and multi-hazard resilient construction, damage and possible loss of life may be severe even in areas of new construction,” concludes the CDKN report.

Da Nang sits on a long piece of lowland coastline, with the city centre resting along the Han river. Flooding occurs frequently and typhoons are yearly occurrences. The poor households of the city face insufficient access to housing and other services, such as health care, transport and education. This project helped “build and retrofit” –that is, adapt— hundreds of houses for the poor, says Phong.

But what is a storm-resilient house, exactly? Storm-resilient construction methods include “closed concrete frames” –single-piece concrete frames that are easy to assemble and are very resistant—; “ring beams at foundation and roof levels” –supports connecting walls and increasing the load capacity of the walls—; detached veranda, strong connections between roof parts, and tightened windows and doors,” says Phong.

There are also mitigation co-benefits in resilient building. Features included in resilient houses are “openings on both sides,” for example, which “enable natural cross ventilation and natural lighting inside the house and, thus, reduce energy consumption for artificial cooling and lighting equipment (fans, lightbulbs),” he adds.

The expectations from this project include –according to Phong— “wide replication of safe housing construction practices”, as well as “increased public awareness on safe housing”, the engagement of “a wide range of stakeholders in building a resilient housing system” with the support of the city; and “the mainstreaming of risk reduction measures” in granting building permits in vulnerable areas, he says.

On October 15, 2013 typhoon Nari landed in Da Nang city. Storm winds and heavy rainfall led to flooding, thousands of homes were damaged and many people were injured. According to the report of Da Nang City People´s Committee, the damage amounted to up to $40 million.

“No damages were incurred, however, in the homes built as part of the Storm Resistant Housing for a Resilient Da Nang City project,” says a report published by ISET in the aftermath of the typhoon.

The Storm Resistant Housing for a Resilient Da Nang City project has been funded by Rockefeller Foundation and administered by ISET, in partnership with the Da Nang Women’s Union, and it linked with the learning derived from the Sheltering From a Gathering Storm research programme, co-funded by CDKN.

“The retrofits were a great success and showed great added value,” says Kenneth A. MacClune, President and CEO of ISET.

“Beneficiary households strengthened their houses and prepared carefully to cope with the typhoon, therefore their houses were all safe. Meanwhile, many houses and public structures in their area, even right next to them had their roofs blown away and they suffered heavy damages,” says the ISET report on the consequences of Nari.

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