Ms. Ho Thi Hue heads the Family and Social Affairs Division of Lai Chau provincial Women’s Union. In the project Information for adaptation in Vietnam (InfoAct) funded by the German Government, the Division is in charge of implementing communication activities and introducing down-scaled agro-climate advisories to ethnic minority women groups in the district of Tan Uyen.

Learning more useful tools

At the beginning of the project, together with other partners, Ms. Hue attended several training and activities. These included the inception event and a workshop on monitoring and evaluating the project. Others were training on facilitation skills, working with communities, and setting up Village Savings and Loan Association or VSLA groups. Despite working on women’s affairs and gender equality for years, she found many facilitation skills obtained via the InfoAct project useful.

“The communication used to base on presentation only. Since joining the project, I started to learn about other tools and participatory methods. I’ve paid more attention to indigenous knowledge and language barriers when working with communities.”

Ho Thi Hue

Besides herself, there is another colleague in her division participating in the project. She said they both share what they learn with others during meetings or tea talks. That is why even those not directly participating in the project get updates on the latest knowledge and ways of working.

Strong impression about VSLA

Hue found the VSLA model extremely impressive. She first heard of it in 2014 when visiting Thanh Nưa commune in Điện Biên where CARE used to roll out another project. She didn’t have concrete information at that time. But the InfoAct project brought her another chance, which gave her deeper understanding about the model. The members can easily borrow small amounts of money to pay for farming and other needs. “Why can Dien Bien do it and Lai Chau not!,” she thought to herself.

To help the local women find out more about the model, she and heads of the communal Women’s Unions did not just present it as usual. In addition to using a video clip explaining how to set up a VSLA, she took questions at the meeting and guided others on how to conduct a VSLA meeting.

In the InfoAct project, 49 VSLA groups with 990 members had been set up by March 2019 in Tan Uyen district. Furthermore, she decided to form another group in the commune of Sin Suối Hồ of Phong Tho district, which is outside the project designated location. She proposed to the project manager so that this group would also receive both guidance and material support, such as the money box, keys, stamps and books, during their setup. She and other colleagues at the Division of Family and Social Affairs even want to establish 10 more VSLA groups in the villages of Kho mu, Dao, and Ha Nhi minority ethnicities. These are poorer ethnic minority groups in the province. She suggested that the project provide them technical guidance and support such as it happened to the group in Sin Suoi Ho.

She said she is glad that what she has done has brought about initial improvements in the life of ethnic minority.

The project InfoAct, or Information for Adaptation in Vietnam, receives funding from the German Government. CARE implements it in Dien Bien with the Center for Community Development, and in Lai Chau with the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The project aims at strengthening the livelihood and resilience of poor ethnic minority women and men in rural areas to climate change and climate shocks.