DIE WELT (Germany)
In Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, floods are a regular part of life, with more than a half million people affected in the past year alone. Even more troubling, authorities in the worst-hit province, An Giang, note that most of the victims are children, German daily Die Welt reports.
Take Nghia, 7. In his village, Binh Hoa Trung, houses, schools, rice paddies, roads and bridges were submerged for more than two months. When school re-opened, the road to get there was still unusable – and Nghia was afraid of going by boat, especially after his school bag fell in the water.
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Floating market on the Mekong Delta (Doran)
Other kids were also afraid – so one 11-year-old got the bright idea of a school backpack that was also a life vest. He developed a prototype that went into production five months later.
Die Welt reports that Save the Children is now equipping kids with the bags as part of a larger project it is conducting jointly with the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) in the region. "Supporting schools and kindergartens so that they can stay open during the rainy season is a major part of our work helping the government’s reconstruction efforts,” says Ian Wilderspin, a Vietnam expert for Disaster Risk Management at UNDP.
More than 10,000 families in Dong Thap and An Giang provinces have now received the floatable backpack vests. Since he got his, Nghia says he feels safer: "Now if I fall in the water, my backpack will help me swim.”