In the last 15 years, Vietnam has seen rapid economic growth, resulting in many positive changes, but also creating challenges. The country’s transformation to a middle income country is threatened by environmental degradation, climate related risks, and limited access to health and social services by the vulnerable population, among other factors. Much of Catholic Relief Services’ work with partners centers around education in different areas including disaster recovery and risk reduction.
Changing climate and more frequent and severe storms are impacting vulnerable farmers in Vietnam, whose 2,000-mile coastline puts it at high risk for storms, floods, droughts and rising sea levels. As a result, families can lose their farms, homes and livelihoods, making it difficult to survive.
Truong Tung is helping families identify these risks and develop plans to protect their businesses, homes and families through CRS’ disaster risk reduction programs. As the Country Manager of CRS Vietnam, Tung ensures farming families receive quality training and knowledge to be prepared for typhoons and other natural disasters. With more than 25 years of education and experience in international development, Tung understands that knowledge is power and can mean the difference between survival and losing everything. Through the CRS disaster risk reduction program, families learn improved farming practices, receive information about upcoming climate changes and weather patterns, share knowledge and receive specialized instruction for their farms. In school, children learn ways to help mitigate the impacts of flooding in their homes through a curriculum developed between CRS and the local schools.
With this knowledge, farming families are less vulnerable and can protect their families, homes and other assets. They are able to maintain stable access to food and income and avoid falling back into a cycle of poverty.
Tung has worked for many organizations in Vietnam that help people escape poverty. His own experience shaped his desire to work on programs aimed at reducing poverty and alleviating hunger. Vietnamese himself, Tung experienced hunger as a child after the Vietnam War ended.“My dream during my childhood was about food and I wished I could do anything to provide people with food,” Tung says. “I wanted to work for CRS because I feel they bring significant impact to the lives of vulnerable people in Vietnam.” He loves working with his team to support local communities affected by natural disasters and says, “It is our responsibility to ensure every dollar is spent to make positive changes in the lives of vulnerable people.”