After a typhoon-filled year, coastal communities in Vietnam have been left devastated by the impact of the hurricane-like storms on their homes and livelihood. In order to provide them with more resilient and sustainable housing, the UN Development Program (UNDP) is building storm-proof houses in Vietnam’s coastal cities.

Some of the country’s most vulnerable people live in Vietnam’s coastal cities in makeshift houses on rivers or other water bodies. The UNDP program is an attempt at providing these vulnerable peoples with storm-proof houses in order to stop them from falling into poverty. So far, the UN program plans to build 300 homes by the end of this year and a total of 4,000 by 2020 in five coastal provinces of Quang Ngai, Quang Nam, Quang Binh, Thua Thien Hue, and Thanh Hoa. The homes will be provided to the coastal communities free of charge.

Vietnam experienced one of its worst typhoons on record when Typhoon Damrey hit the Asian nation, killing 106 people in 2017. Many of the people living in the country’s coastal cities often fall into poverty following the typhoons that regularly slam into Vietnam. After a storm, individuals spend most if not all of their money on repairing their homes, sometimes selling off businesses or possessions and, accordingly, falling into debt. Currently, the UNDP, Red Cross and Women’s Union have been working together to repair some 5,300 homes that have been damaged by the typhoon.

The houses are designed with simplicity and have two rooms inside, focusing more on the robustness of the home’s structure, which uses cement. They also include a mezzanine or sub-level floor inside the house to prevent flooding as well as reinforced roofs. As for the residents’ old homes, they are often used as storage facilities or shelter for the residents’ animals.

Jenty Kirsch-Wood, a senior technical advisor at UNDP, said to Place she thinks that “there is a really strong link between poverty and being able to accumulate assets, and housing is one of the major assets.” Providing storm-proof houses protects these vulnerable peoples from the dangers of riding out a storm, but also spending life savings on repairing their homes only to have it torn down during the following storm.

Vietnam experienced approximately 16 typhoons in 2017 alone, according to Reuters. The Asian nation is prone to experiencing violent typhoons due to very precise changes in water patterns. But what adds to the storms’ devastation is the mass flooding that has been occurring in Vietnam post-storm for the past two decades.

The UNDP’s housing scheme is part of a $29.5 million project under the UN Green Climate Fund. To ensure the scheme’s efficiency, priority for housing will be provided to ethnic minorities, disadvantaged families, the elderly, and the disabled in Vietnam. Aside from constructing these houses, the Fund will be used to help in the regeneration of mangrove trees, which help protect coastal cities from flooding.

Flooding elsewhere in the world is pushing cities to incorporate flood prevention into their plans for the years to come. In New York City, which suffers from climate change-induced flooding, architecture firm DFA has proposed building several high-rise buildings on the Hudson River to brace for future flooding.

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