Viet Nam: Floating Backpacks Keep Children Safe

In October 2011, OCHA approved a UNDP request for a US$100,000 Emergency Cash Grant for Save the Children to buy floating backpacks for school children in Viet Nam’s flood-affected southern Mekong Delta region.

The backpacks, which were designed by a child in northern Viet Nam as a life jacket and a school backpack, are essential items in each school and are cherished by those who own one. They  protect children from  drowning and keep their school supplies from getting damaged.

Nguyen Hong Son, the Head of Thuong Thoi Hau A Primary School said: “All students in our school have floating backpacks now. For a place with so many rivers and channels, they are really helpful in reducing the risk when travelling across rivers to schools, particularly in the annual flood season.”

Seven-year-old Nghia  feels much more secure and can attend school with full enthusiasm. “I’m so happy,” he said. “My teacher just gave me this new bag. If I fall into the water now, the bag will help me float just like a life vest.”

Every year, OCHA pre-positions funds to provide small Emergency Cash Grants for the purchase of life-saving items and the provision of logistical support in response to crises. Allocations are made within 10 days at a maximum of $100,000 per emergency.


Seven-year-old Nghia keeps his school books and himself safe in a new floating backpack. © Save the Children Vietnam