Welcome to the second edition of Existence, a newsletter devoted to highland development issues. As we did in our first issue, we will continue here to describe the results of field work initiated by Towards Ethnic Women.
One of TEW’s early projects was to set up a field office in Quang Binh province. This field office, the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge Research and Development, has now registered as a separate organisation. In this issue, several stories will outline the impact CIRD has had on ethnic minority communities in highland Quang Binh.
The first will describe the training centre that has been built to allow ethnic minorities the opportunity to learn in a familiar and comfortable environment. The centre, called CCCD, also provides young staff members with the opportunity to learn more about the different cultures of the farmers they work with.
The second story will describe CIRD’s experience with ‘interest groups,’ which are the village and commune-level farmer’s groups that organise activities in areas like gardening and animal husbandry. One of CIRD’s main aims to is to provide the credit and support needed for farmers to increase production in these and other areas. A third story will describe the model of credit delivery that CIRD has developed, based originally on the model developed by another Vietnamese NGO called the Rural Development Services Centre (RDSC).
Finally, the impact of CIRD’s land-use rights programme will be described by telling the story of how one Ma Lieng village reacted when outsiders cut trees in an area contracted to the villagers.
This issue of Existence will also describe one of TEW’s earliest field programmes, in the Sinh Mun village of Bo Ngoi, in Son La province. As a result of this project, a very strong network of women farmers has developed in Yen Chau district, where Bo Ngoi is located.
Finally, this issue will provide a short update of events in On Oc village, where villagers are engaged in an ongoing effort to protect the valuable forest which surrounds their community. In the last issue, we described a community road-building project which was effective in preventing outsiders from coming to cut the forest. Now, new pressures are emerging that the villagers must face. The story in this issue will describe recent events, as well as provide more background about On Oc village.
As always, we hope you find this issue informative. As TEW and CHESH continue to grow, our work will take us to new and exciting areas. We hope in the next few issues to describe the CHESH programme in Lao PDR, and outline our hopes for regional cooperation in other areas.