1. Connected to overcome poverty

Ms. Bui Thi Nhien in Thuong Tien village, Thuong Tien commune, Kim Boi district has a flock of over 100 chickens, raised over the hillsides around her house.

Ms. Bui Thi Nhien and her husband, Mr Bui Van Bay, in Thuong Tien village. Photo: CARE

Since mid-2019, 10 families in the village including Nhien’s have received support from the P4EM project. Each was given 120 little chickens. From the beginning, the chicken-raising group members agreed not to buy breeds from other areas but choose the very local one that settles well in this midland and is preferred in the market.

“The breed is very good this time. I expected to sell the chicken at a good price before Tet,” said Ms. Nhien, “But I will sell roosters only. I’ll keep the hens to raise a new flock. All of us promised to repopulate the flock to improve our income”.

Discussing and working together have helped members learn from each other. They have also become closer, helping each other in taking care for the chickens. These range from finding the right feed to dealing with securing the cages. Thanks to constant experience sharing in the group and farming technique advice from the project staff, the flock’s survival rate reaches 90%, a very high ratio in comparison to most cases. Every one expects to earn a fair amount of money once they sell the first batch during Tet, the coming lunar new year season.

Mr. Bui Van Thu, Vice Chairman of Thuong Tien commune, said the P4EM project has brought about important lessons in implementing group-based models. “Group members have the chance to discuss and decide on their own matters. Our local programs will apply the lessons learnt in the project so as to support the communities more effectively,” said Mr. Thu.

2. When people build their own road

The use of local knowledge and resources, and especially the decentralization and empowerment process to enable local people’s ownership are central to community infrastructure maintenance and construction that the P4EM project has been supporting in Thuong Tien commune. For example, the maintenance of the 500-meter-long irrigation ditch and the construction of 150-meter-long road in Thuong Tien village lay entirely on the decision of the locals. They also contributed labour days.

“When we started to work with CARE in the P4EM project, our first target is to empower the people and communities,” said Mr. Nguyen Minh Tien, Vice Head of Propaganda Department of Hoa Binh Department for Ethnic Minority Affairs.

“All the money from the project was spent on this without any loss.”

Mr. Bui Van Thu

To complete the road, they contributed labour days and money to hire a cement mixer to increase the road quality instead of doing it by hand as they used to. They took turn to watch over the construction. All information was made public via the communal loudspeaker or in village meetings. “If it is not for the transparency but just [top-down] imposing, it’d be difficult. But when we mobilise the people, they are will to contribute although many households don’t even use that road,” said Mr. Thu.

Mr. Bui Van Long rode on the cement road that he and his fellow villagers built with their own hands. Photo: CARE

According to Mr. Bui Van Long in Thuong Tien village, they managed to build a road that is 150 meters’ long, 3 meters’ wide, and 25 centimeters’ thick with merely 50 million dong (roughly 2,150 USD). Meanwhile, other projects may spend the same amount of money for 40-60 meters. He believes that the people are able to finish their own construction works with quality if given the power to decide.

Ms. Bui Thi Loc contributed her labour to repairing the irrigation ditch. Photo: CARE

In the nearby Luon village, also with 50 million VND and only within ten days, the people managed to fix 560 meters of a crucial irrigation ditch that runs through complex landscape. In addition, they fortified another 50 meters. Water finally becomes available to every single household, from the one living at the upper end to the lowest end of the ditch. “The people guaranteed that once it’s completed, it will be solid and last very long,” said Mr. Dinh Cong Sy, village head.

According to Mr. Bui Van Thu, Vice Chairman of Thuong Tien commune, the way the P4EM project has supported community initiatives has promoted the ownership of the communities in implementing and monitoring. This is a lesson for disadvantaged communes. “Doing it this way is truly what the people want. [So] they give their consensus. Everything is possible if it is supported by the people,” said Mr. Thu.

Mr. Dinh Cong Sy at the ditch that brings water to every field instead of the upper stream ones as it used to. Photo: CARE

CARE International in Vietnam implements the Partnership for Ethnic Minorities’ Equitable and Inclusive Development (P4EM) project from 2017 to 2021 in collaboration with Vietnam’s Committe for Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) and provincial Departments for Ethnic Minority Affairs of Hà Giang, Hòa Bình, Quảng Trị, Trà Vinh and Kon Tum. The P4EM project receives financial support from the Irish Aid. More about the Project at: https://tinyurl.com/CARE-P4EM