Hanoi, 19 January 2016 - The Promoting Land Rights for Ethnic Minority People in Vietnam project was launched today by the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Vietnam, CARE International in Vietnam and Culture Identity and Resource Use Management (CIRUM) with the participation of Deputy Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam Thomas Anthony Corrie, Deputy Director of Forestry Development Department, Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VAF) Quach Dai Ninh, Politburo Member and President of the Vietnam Fatherland Lu Van Que, Vice Chairman of Ethnic Council of the National Assembly Giang A Chu, Director of Ethnic Minority Policy Department at Committee for Ethnic Minorities Affairs (CEMA), and other national and local stakeholders.
With financial support of more than EURO 650,000 (approximately USD 700,000) from the EU, the project will be executed from Jan 2016 to Dec 2018 by CARE International in Vietnam and CIRUM in close collaboration with VAF in six provinces of Lao Cai, Lang Son, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, and Kon Tum. About eight million people from different ethnic minority groups will be beneficiaries of the amendment of Law on Forest Protection and Development and other policies and good practices recommended by the project. Those are chronic poor, depended overwhelmingly on upland agricultural forests for the livelihoods and spiritual and cultural identity, food insecure, lack of economic opportunities, live in remote areas, facing language and literacy barriers, and are excluded from decision making, in particular women and girls.
The overall objective of the project is to contribute to the protection and promotion of ethnic minority peoples’ rights to community forest lands. The project will enhance the forest land use effectiveness in the Northern, Central coast and Central Highland regions of Vietnam, considering the access to information and land use of ethnic minority people to the community forest lands. These will be later informed and included in the consideration for improvement of the forthcoming amendment of the Law on Forest Protection and Development.
The poverty rate amongst ethnic minorities in Vietnam is considerably higher than the country’s average. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that the primary contributor to chronic poverty in Vietnam is the lack of access to productive land. Over two thirds of people from ethnic minorities, who depend overwhelmingly on agriculture and forest use for their livelihoods, live under the poverty line. At the same time, they are facing a lot of difficulties due to population pressure, degraded forest and reduced forestry land per capita, and natural resource exhaustion. Poor management and ineffectiveness of forest land use, lack of formal access to forest land and lack of recognition of the efficacy of traditional community forest management are several of the reasons.
Current land and forest policies have allowed communities to apply for certificates over communal land. They provide opportunity for the assignment of forest land to village population communities if, among other criteria, those communities share customs, practices and traditions. In practice, ethnic minority people’s access to land is impeded by a combination of limited formal tenure, the allocation of forest land to state and private enterprises, and lack of recognition of the efficacy of traditional community forest management. In this context, advocating for an enabling policy environment in forest land governance is crucial, so that ethnic minority people will have effective access to and control over community forest land, their rights to community forest land are, therefore, protected and promoted.