The Centre for Human Ecology Studies of                             Existence     Culture, ecology and community developme...
The Centre for HumanEcology Studies ofHighlands (CHESH) is amember organisation of theVietnam Union of Science            ...
The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofThis issue: focus on Quang BinhW        elcome to         t h esecond edition ofExi...
Training for the futureCCCD develops new approach to minority educationLearning by doing: CCCD students immunise poultry.W...
The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofCCCD training course forethnic minority youth.   The students practice newskills on...
From the distance it looks like a regular collection of farm buildings. But CCCD will be built into a major centre for   B...
The Centre for Human Ecology Studies of“Other ethnic minoritystudents who study in bigtowns don’t want to goback to their ...
Join the clubFarmers build interest groups as basisfor community developmentO         ne of the key goals for          CIR...
The Centre for Human Ecology Studies of             Report from a gardening club member Hoang Van Phuoc is a member of the...
Building tree nurseries is one of the activities that interest clubs promote.brought the management boards              gr...
The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofWhat good is a red book?CIRD’s land allocation programme raisesawareness – and ques...
Villagers and staff worked on mapping together, based on existing land use.district. One of the villages,           Ma Lie...
The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofCIRD requested that both wives and husbands’ names                               Th...
terms of their knowledge,confidence and skills. One areathat was very important forCIRD was the participation ofwomen in t...
The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofA report on land allocation in Ngu Hoa communeThe following is a report written by ...
for the project was not the area of land allocated, that the villagers trust and they have been active inbut the capacity ...
The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofUniting gender and culture TEW’s approach to working with womenTEW’s goal is to ove...
DevelopmentEmpowerment of women                                                             Empowerment of ethnicbased on ...
The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofFirst steps in Bo Ngoi villageThe Sinh Mun village of Bo Ngoi was the first major T...
cr eat e opport unit i es for       material and spiritual lives.           herbal medicine, TEW arrangedvillagers, partic...
The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofreport explains the predicamentof the villagers:   “Sinh Mu people say theylike goi...
Although not all families inBo Ngoi village had this type ofsuccess, village life changed agreat deal in economic terms.Th...
The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofUpdate story                                           Who’s forest is it?         ...
forest was under the protectionof the district army. Lenhwaited for someone to explainthe new policy and why theforest car...
The Centre for Human Ecology Studies offorestry department. Van toldthem to stop the cuttingimmediately. This worked atfir...
TEW and CIRD project areas                                     Lao Cai province                                     (Hmong...
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Case study_Existence: Culture, ecology and community development in Vietnam

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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.

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Case study_Existence: Culture, ecology and community development in Vietnam

  1. 1. The Centre for Human Ecology Studies of Existence Culture, ecology and community developmentSummer 2001 Volume 1, Number 2 Focus on Quang Binh:  Forest land rights  Farmer networking  Ethnic minority education Existence is a quarterly newsletter of the Centre for Human Ecology Studies of Highlands (CHESH), a Vietnamese non-governmental organisation that works with ethnic minority farmers in the Existence January 2001 1
  2. 2. The Centre for HumanEcology Studies ofHighlands (CHESH) is amember organisation of theVietnam Union of Science Existence Culture, ecology and community developmentand TechnologyAssociations. Summer 2001 Volume 1, Number 2CHESH is dedicated to In this issuesupporting ethnic minorityfarmers in highland 4 Training for the futureSoutheast Asia through The Centre for Community Capacity Development is developing afarmer networking and new approach to ethnic minority education.capacity building of localNGOs. 8 Join the club Key farmers in Quang Binh province build interest clubs as basis for community development.CHESH was founded in1999 as an extension of 11 What good is a red book?Towards Ethnic Women CIRD land allocation programme raises awareness — and questions.(TEW), a national-levelVietnamese NGO supporting 17 Gender and culturefarmer networking and TEW’s approach to working with women is described along withvillage-level development details about a programme with ethnic Sinh Mun women in Son La.projects. TEW has workedin the highlands of Vietnamsince 1994.Existence is a quarterlynewsletter outlining theresearch and fieldwork ofCHESH, TEW and our fieldoffices in northern, centraland Central Highland areasof Vietnam.Contributions to Existenceare welcome. Contact us toreceive copies, but pleasenote that no subscriptionsare available at this time.The newsletter is alsopublished in Vietnamese,under the name Sinh Tån.Tran Thi LanheditorDuong Quang Chaudeputy editorMichael L. Graymanaging editorExistenceCHESH/TEW2 Existence January 2001
  3. 3. The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofThis issue: focus on Quang BinhW elcome to t h esecond edition ofExi stence, anewsletterdevoted toh i g h l a n ddevel opm entissues. As we didin our first issue,we will continuehere to describethe results offield workinitiated byTowards EthnicWomen and itss i s t e ror gan isation sC HE S H andCIRD. One of TEW’searly projectswas to set up a Often labelled together as the ‘Chut’ the ethnic groups in Quang Binh actually include the Sach,field office inQuang Binh province. This field CIRD has now registered as a separate organisationoffi c e, t h e Cen t r e forIn di gen ous Kn owl edg e and runs a training centre in Quang Binh.Research and Development, hasnow registered as a separate provide the credit and support developed in Yen Chau district,organisation. In this issue, needed for farmers to increase where Bo Ngoi is located.several stories will outline the production in these and other Finally, this issue willimpact CIRD has had on ethnic areas. A third story will provide a short update of eventsminority communities in describe the model of credit in On Oc village, wherehighland Quang Binh. delivery that CIRD has villagers are engaged in an The first will describe the developed, based originally on ongoing effort to protect thetraining centre that has been the model developed by another valuable forest which surroundsbuilt to allow ethnic minorities Vietnamese NGO called the their community. In the lastthe opportunity to learn in a Rural Development Services i s su e, we d e s cr i bed afamiliar and comfortable Centre (RDSC). com m unit y r oad -bui ldingenvironment. The centre, called Finally, the impact of project which was effective inCCCD, also provides young CIRD’s l a n d -use r i gh t s preventing outsiders fromstaff members with the programme will be described by coming to cut the forest. Now,opportunity to learn more about telling the story of how one Ma new pressures are emerging thatthe different cultures of the Lieng village reacted when the villagers must face.farmers they work with. outsiders cut trees in an area As always, we hope you find The second story will contracted to the villagers. this issue informative. As TEWdescribe CIRD’s experience This issue of Existence will and CHESH continue to grow,with ‘interest groups,’ which are also describe one of TEW’s our work will take us to newthe village and commune-level earliest field programmes, in the and exciting areas. We hope infarmer’s groups that organise Sinh Mun village of Bo Ngoi, in the next few issues to describeactivities in areas like gardening Son La province. As a result of the CHESH programme in Laoand animal husbandry. One of this project, a very strong PDR, and outline our hopes forCIRD’s main aims to is to network of women farmers has regional cooperation in other Existence January 2001 3
  4. 4. Training for the futureCCCD develops new approach to minority educationLearning by doing: CCCD students immunise poultry.W hen you stand on the hill across from the five woodenbuildings that make up the like much more than a big farm. But CCCD is not really a farm. It’s a school, and a centre where people from a range of C C CD i s t h e t r a i n i n g component of the Centre for In di gen ous Kn owl edg e Research and Development,Centre for Community Capacity cultures come to work and CIRD, which runs developmentDevelopment, you would not learn. Maybe even this doesn’t programmes across Quang Binhthink you were looking at an make CCCD unique. Come a province. CCCD was started soespecially unique place. little closer, however, and meet that highland farmers would In front of the buildings are the people. At CCCD you can have a place to meet and learn,four large fish ponds, followed find women and men of all in a location that would beby a garden now dominated by ages. Bright-eyed teenagers and familiar to them and offer themacacia seedlings. On the right, a village elders. People from the a chance practice new skillsgentle slope drops down to a cities and people from the immediately.small lake, and the slope is also mountains. Professionals with The Quang Binh People’scovered with acacia. advanced degrees, and illiterate Committee supported the idea, The buildings are large, open farmers learning how to read and allocated 14.2 ha of landstructures set in cement. Some and write. outside Dong Le town, Tuyenalready look old, while others What makes CCCD unique is Hoa district, for CIRD to build astill have the fresh look of that all of these people have practical training centre forrecently cut wood. On most come together to learn from agroforestry and communitydays, people mill about the each other, in an atmosphere development. Five buildingscentre cooking, cleaning, where everyone’s experience is were soon built to accommodatelooking after animals and valued. up to 60 farmers and staff.gardening. With its pig shed and New approach needed There are now 10 students at thechicken coops, it doesn’t look school, enrolled in the very first4 Existence January 2001
  5. 5. The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofCCCD training course forethnic minority youth. The students practice newskills on a 0.7 ha garden, whichhas 400 fruit trees, as well aslocal crops like corn and severaltypes of potato. There is also a400 sq.m herbal medicinegarden that has plants fromnorthern and central Vietnam.On the hill behind the CCCDcompound is a 6.8 haregeneration forest with 5,200cinnamon trees and 4,000 acaciatrees. Regulations on forestprotection have been set up, andthe Vietnamese villagers aroundCCCD respect the boundaries ofthe forest. CCCD has been the locationfor over 30 training courses and Youths like this Ma Coong man will be given the opportunity to becomeworkshops for coordinators and future community leaders.key farmers from around QuangBinh, and the centre’s RVAC “We learned that the the physical environment. Themodel is developing rapidly. approach taken at the vocational land that CCCD stands on isOther organisations like LIM schools is very theoretical... and similar to much of the terrain inan d the Food Secur it y the students found it very highland Quang Binh, with poorProgramme are beginning to difficult because they did not soil and sloping fields. There istake notice, and they now want have the opportunity to practice also a large, forested hill behindto build their own training new skills. the centre. The farmers whocentres. These organisations “Also, the environment at the visit the centre feel at home,recognise that there is a school has a very big impact on which is also due to the socialshortage of educational options their thinking. They did not environment that CIRD stafffor ethnic minority farmers. want to go back to their have created. The staff welcome CIRD and TEW staff had communities to work on farmers with an attitude thatsome early experiences with activities like gardening – they highland minorities do notminority education that led wanted to be government staff, always see when they comethem to open their own training which is common among ethnic down from the hills. The mainlycentre. When TEW worked in minorities who go outside their young staff have a keen interestSon La province, some Sinh villages to a new area.” in highland culture, and they areMun minority students were Chau says that vocational involved in a long-term effort tosent to a vocational school in schools normally require a find new ways of integratingLang Son for six months. But grade nine education, but that traditional agriculture andafter they finished their studies, very few minority students ever forestry techniques with thenone of the students continued reach this level. This was ‘outside methods’ that areworking with the TEW project. another reason that CIRD had to represented in government Some Vietnamese (Kinh) take education into their own policy.farmers from Quang Binh hands. This effort requires that theprovince were also sent to One of the main goals was to staff learn at least as much asvocational schools, but they also create a training centre that they teach. And this is the partreturned to their villages offered an environment familiar that is truly unique – because inwithout becoming involved in to the students. Part of this is Vietnam, both state and non-CIRD projects. state development workers who CIRD director Duong Quang go to the highlands are not “The environment at the always so good at learning.Chau says this is a commonproblem for ethnic minority school has a very big Ethnic minorities are oftenstudents who attend schools and impact on their thinking.” depicted as ‘backward’ andcolleges outside their villages: com p l et el y l a ckin g in ‘scientific’ knowledge. Existence January 2001 5
  6. 6. From the distance it looks like a regular collection of farm buildings. But CCCD will be built into a major centre for But CIRD staff have found first learn about the culture of rats, and the staff had nothat highland farmers have a the people they are trying to solution to the problem. Onerange of knowledge they can help. Village elders are relied Khua student built a rat trap ondraw on in creating the agro- on to describe and explain their his own, based on what heforestry model at CCCD. This is communities. Staff must learn learned as a youngster in hisgood, because CIRD staff have quickly the customs and taboos village. The trap was sonot been entirely successful of a community, so that farmers successful that all the studentsadapting their sci entifi c feel comfortable having these copied his design, and over 100knowledge to the difficult outsiders spend time in their rats were caught in a short time.ph ysi cal environment in houses and villages. This also This type of confidence-highland Quang Binh. Last helps make living at CCCD boost is necessary whenyear, all of the chickens easier for the students. working with students whodropped dead from disease, and So far the staff have found often feel they are at athe honey bees CIRD staff were that the young farmers are very disadvantage because theirraising also died. The hope is enthusiastic about learning from culture is ‘backward.’ Staffthat farmers and staff together each other. There is less of a have found that the mostcan find some better techniques. culture and language gap among important factor in keeping the the Khua, Ma Coong, Ma Lieng students active and interested isCulture as an educational tool and Arem students then there is to use practical methods between staff and students. The whenever possible.CCCD may be one of the few older students help younger Also, in the near future,training centres in Vietnam ones to learn, especially as village elders and other seniorwhere culture is given greater s om e h a ve on l y ba si c farmers will be relied upon forweight than science. Obviously, Vietnamese language skills. much of the training. OlderCIRD staff are interested in This is also important because villagers will be invited to trainbringing more sci entific some of the students are as the students in handicrafts likeagriculture, forestry and animal young as 15, so they are not weaving, and farmers fromhusbandry techniques to the always responsible towards other regions of Vietnam willpoor farmers of Quang Binh. learning. provide training in areas likeHowever, they are not interested CIRD staff always try to herbal medicine and forgingin changing peoples’ lifestyles, point out how much knowledge tools.making people ‘civilised’ or comes from the culture thateven stopping them from minority students take for Growing painsshifting cultivation. granted. For example, the area This means that staff must around CCCD was infested with Despite the success so far with6 Existence January 2001
  7. 7. The Centre for Human Ecology Studies of“Other ethnic minoritystudents who study in bigtowns don’t want to goback to their villages.”the first CCCD training coursefor ethnic minority youth, CIRDstaff are making some changesas they go along. After the Tet(New Year) celebrations, fourof the original 14 students didnot return to the training centre.CIRD staff were not overlysurprised about this, as theyknew the course would be a Not always working: staff and students dance the night away.challenge for the students. As director Duong Quang The students will now rotate workshops held. The centre isChau says: “In some of the between their villages and the located close to rail and roadvillages, young people don’t training centre, so that they can transportation, and the farmershave to do much work, they just apply what they learn directly to can travel there without muchhang around with their friends. their areas. difficulty. But care was takenFor them, going to school “This is so they can clearly not to make the centre too big ormeans sitting in a classroom, see the results of their work,” fancy in any way.whereas at CCCD they have to Chau says. “If they only see In fact, the land aroundwork, clean, cook and garden – results at CCCD, they won’t CCCD was so poor thatand in their minds this is not think it’s because of their work, neighbouring farmers did notlearning.” but because of others.” want it. They didn’t think any At first, the students were put Chau thinks that moving trees would grow there. Buton an intensive schedule that between the villages and the after two years, fruit trees andwent at least eight hours per centre will help the students l oc a l t r e e sp e ci e s a r eday, six days a week. Now, staff grow quickly into their role as flourishing. This took a lot ofhave realised that the students key farmers and coordinators time and money, but theneed more free time, and the for the communities. The goal is minority farmers can also seework will be dropped back to for the students to lead that it is the result of theirfour or five days per week. networking among farmers, and labour. And as their confidenceChau also says that in the for some to become field-based grows, they can take over morefuture, two students from each CIRD staff members. This type roles and responsibilities invillage will attend the course, of role is already taken by some community development work.rather than just one, to make it Kinh farmers that CIRD works In the long run, CIRD staffeasier for them to adjust to new with, including one woman hope CCCD will be a fieldsurroundings. from Lien Trach commune who office for key farmers, where The 10 students who remain is now responsible for the they coordinate activities in theat CCCD seem to enjoy the farmer network in the three villages. Although this is stillwork very much, and they have Kinh communes of Bo Trach several years away, the districta good relationship with the district. and province authorities arestaff. Most want to go back to already impressed with whattheir villages to begin work, and has been accomplished. ~ A broad base for trainingChau thinks this is a positiveresult of the course. CCCD is not only a vocational “This is a good sign because training centre for youngother ethnic minority students students. It is a pilot model inwho study in big towns don’t natural resource managementwant to go back to their and sustainable land use.villages, so this means our Government officials as well asstrategy is moving in the right fa r m er s ar e in vi t ed t odirection.” participate in the many Existence January 2001 7
  8. 8. Join the clubFarmers build interest groups as basisfor community developmentO ne of the key goals for CIRD, and TEW, is to promote networkingamong ethnic minority farmers.The belief is that farmers canlearn best from each other, andgain the confidence needed totake more work into their ownhands. The main approach tonetworking in Quang Binh isfarmer ‘interest clubs’ forgar denin g and animalhusbandry. The first approach that CIRDtook to working with the ethnicminority farmers in Quang Binhwas to find key farmers at the Farmers with common interests come together in clubs, like this groupvillage level, who would receive visiting a garden pilot model.intensive training and then re-train other members of their people who want to learn more beginning, to cover operatingcommunity. about gardening, animal costs. Then, members contribute This was the approach that husbandry, or savings and credit 10,000 dong every month inTEW took when working with techniques. savings, with the pooled fundscommunities in northern Farmers who wanted to join loaned out to the neediest groupVietnam, such as the Dao the interest groups did so on a members.people in Ha Tay province and voluntary basis. There was a To join a gardening groupthe Sinh Mun in Son La. great deal of flexibility, and and qualify for a loan, for But after one year of trying members met to set up their example, members had to drawthis approach, things were not own membership standards and a map of their garden orprogressing well in several regulations. Typical standards household, and create ancommunities. Staff carried out include having some land, investment plan to discuss withadditional research to see what enough labour, and showing the other members of the group.was wrong. They found that in enthusiasm and a willingness to From these discussions thesome communes, the wrong share with others. needs of the villagers for morepeople had been chosen to be Initially groups were kept to training in animal husbandry,key farmers. The farmers were about 20 or 25 key members. gardening or cultivation becamenot all enthusiastic about Management boards were set up clear. CIRD also providedlearning, and in some cases only with a group leader, deputy training in savings and credit,applied what they learned to leader and one person to and how to set up plans andtheir own households. manage funds. Members manage finances. normally contributed from Farmers chosen for training Sharing with others 5,000 to 10,000 dong at the courses came to the CIRD training centre, CCCD, whereIt was decided that a new they learned how to hold their Enthusiastic own training courses back inapproach was needed, and soCIRD helped the communities coordinators and key their villages. To promoteset up ‘interest clubs,’ which farmers are the most networking, the key farmerswere essentially groups of important element for trained helped each other by re-8 Existence January 2001
  9. 9. The Centre for Human Ecology Studies of Report from a gardening club member Hoang Van Phuoc is a member of the Lam Trach coordinators, including myself, went on a study tour commune gardening club. Three years ago his to the north, to Bac Giang and Ha Tay. We saw family was very poor and lacked food for two or clearly the benefits of gardening, and the importance three months per year. His five small children were of the various techniques we had studied. Again we not old enough to contribute much labour, and his gained trust and assurance in how our families were five ha of land was low quality, and full of working. As a result, my family decided to grow more unexploded bombs from the war. types of fruit trees and local species, and widen the Phuoc took part in a training course sloping area of our garden. We planted 120 lychee trees, of land cultivation and techniques for growing trees. which 20 have given fruit. We also planted 50 trees He borrowed documents from CIRD to learn more, of different types, like custard apple, mango, orange and soon began to build terraced fields on his land. and grapefruit, which in one year will start to give Here, he recounts what he has gained from joining fruit. We also planted 100 pepper trees, one ‘sao’ of the gardening interest club in his commune: tea and several other types of tree that are all growing well. In addition to the fruit trees, we “Because I learned a lot from the training, CIRD planted more short-term crops like potato, cassava, staff chose my garden to build a pilot model. My soy, peanuts and green vegetables, to increase our family received 20 lychee trees and 7 custard apple income and improve our lives. trees, as well as more lessons in technique. We “Looking back at the past two years of this new planted and cared for the trees, and they grew way of working... the economic life of my family has quickly. That number of trees is nothing to be proud increased very clearly. We don’t lack food and we of, but it did give my family faith in the new methods. have a surplus left over to gradually pay back our From there we grew more trees of local species like loans. In terms of economic results, our children can jackfruit and tea, as well as short-term crops like continue studying, and everyone contributes to potato, soy and peanuts. We wanted very much to raising animals and producing – according to a grow more types of fruit trees, but we didn’t have the daily, monthly and yearly plan. We spend our credit. savings equally on everyone and the whole family is “This was a constraint not just for my family, but happy. for many people in the gardening club and the “From the results of our work, looking towards community as a whole. Seeing this, CIRD organised the future, my family will improve our situation by a credit programme for household economic gradually increasing the area of fruit trees, in order development. I quickly filled in an application for to build our farm to a larger scale and raise our credit and received five million dong to put into living standard. In the past two years, many people animal husbandry and gardening. I invested two in the commune, both farmers and government staff, million to make a pigsty and I bought four small as well as staff from other communes and the pigs, one cow, more fertiliser and nearly 200 fruit district, have visited my garden to share experiences. trees of different types. Now I can sell 150 kg of pork This has helped encourage my family a lot, and every year. made us happy and confident about our economic “Before we received credit, the gardening club development.”training as a group, moving well, although there were some He said that the managementfrom commune to commune. problems early on, when boards had too much work toAnd when one commune was farmers were still learning new do, so progress was slow. As atrained, the farmers there moved ways of organising. result, it was decided toon to other communes to train reorganise the groups andothers. Progress quickens include more enthusiastic Eventually, the interest club people and those with morefor savings and credit was One Vietnamese (Kinh) group pressing needs.merged into the other two coordinator from Lien Trach Tung said: “From that time,groups. As of October, 2000, commune, Tran Thanh Tung, group activities improved, andthere were 14 interest clubs says the groups in his commune the quality of the workgroups, in both animal ran into some early problems. increased. The needs to meethusbandry and gardening, with In a report delivered to household economic growthover 350 members. The groups Q uan g Bin h pr ovin ce increased, so a big limitationorganise meetings every one to authorities as part of the CIRD was the lack of credit. CIRDthree months, to check on each three-year evaluation in October responded by providing 80others results and make 2000, Tung said that most million dong for the husbandryimprovements. For the most members of the first groups and gardening groups. Prior topart, the groups are running were village or commune staff. delivering the credit, CIRD Existence January 2001 9
  10. 10. Building tree nurseries is one of the activities that interest clubs promote.brought the management boards groups have involved only CIRD staff are now doing – likeand coordinators on study tours Vietnamese (Kinh) farmers. research, writing proposals andto Bac Giang and Ha Tay Three years has been adequate managing activities – Chauprovinces. Combined with the for the Kinh farmers to take thinks this process could takeknowledge gained at training over most of the activities from ten years in the minoritycourses, the study tours CIRD staff. For the ethnic c om m u n i t i e s . A s t h e i rprovided the basis for the two minorities in Quang Binh, confidence grows, farmers willgroups to develop and record h owe ver , t h i s t yp e of gradually take over moregood results.” networking will take longer. activities. This will require The management boards of CIRD director Duong Quang CIRD staff to learn new skillsthe gardening clubs have Chau says that the minority themselves, so they can act asrequested a total of 160 million farmers must first become supporters to the growing needsdong in credit from CIRD, with accustomed to savings in kind, of the farmers. Staff memberswhich they have purchased and then savings in cash, then will procure outside informationplanted 6,000 fruit trees in 102 finally credit. for the farmers, organise studyhousehold gardens. The 28 “We have to work on a very tours, contact othercoordinators that received small scale... setting up savings organisations and state offices,training at CIRD have all groups and making plans. The and provide higher training inorganised re-training courses in minority farmers only have pr oject an d fin an cia ltheir villages and communes. experience with ‘free’ pig- management, and monitoring raising, so we have to provide and evaluation. Start on a small scale them with knowledge of Among the final goals: common diseases, help them people’s funds based on theAll indications are that the make pigsties and introduce savings groups that are nowinterest groups will continue to vegetables into the pigs’ diet, being organised. In Kim Hoadevelop and play an important like cassava and potato.” commune, for example, 11role in spreading knowledge million dong was saved afterthroughout their communities. Building for the future one year, a figure that couldSome groups are beginning to grow to 30 or 40 million in adivide and find new members to Whereas the Kinh farmers over few more years. This will paveform new clubs. the next three years will take the way for larger and larger Up to now, most of the over almost all the activities that loans, as well as capital for10 Existence January 2001
  11. 11. The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofWhat good is a red book?CIRD’s land allocation programme raisesawareness – and questions allocation policy seems toOne of CIRD’s most important programme areas is promise.natural resource management. CIRD helps ethnic When CIRD gave a three-minority communities in Quang Binh to obtain land year evaluation in front ofuse rights certificates and contracts for forest land. Quang Binh province officialsThis story describes the outcome of the first CIRD in late 2000, one Ke villagerland allocation programme, which covered two was invited to explain the situation and lodge a complaintcommues. It is based on a report by Tran Quoc Hien, directly to the province. Still,the CIRD consultant responsible for land allocation. the villagers are waiting for any solution or comment from the province on how to solve the problem of the trees being cut without permission.I n 1998 workers arried in Ke village to build a school. They had 90m ill i on don g fr om th egovernment’s Programme 135, wood is for the school.” The villagers didn’t see it that way. The training courses and discussions surrounding the contracting of land all told them Highland Quang Binh The three mountainous districtswhich aims to develop highland that they alone had the right to of western Quang Binh – Minhareas. use and protect the forest land. Hoa, Tuyen Hoa and Bo Trach The workers set up their tents Tran Quoc Hien, the CIRD – have some of the richest forestaround the village, and soon consultant responsible for the land left in Vietnam. They arethey were busy at work. The land allocation programme, puts also home to some of thevillage was bustling with it in terms of belief. Hien says poorest people in the country.activity, and the villagers the villagers were angry and Ethnic minorities like the Mawatched as these strangers went confused about outsiders saying Lieng, Sach, Ruc, May andabout their business. one thing and doing another: Arem live by very modest The Ma Lieng people of Ke protect the forest, or cut it means, with most of theirvillage were happy to receive a down? income drawn from forestnew school building, but they When Hien came to the cultivation. These groups hadwere not impressed with the village shortly after the trees little contact with outsiders untilway to workers went about their were cut, the villagers were a ft e r 1 9 5 4 , wh e n t h ejob. very upset. He explained that government of Vietnam began The villagers had just the workers were contracted by to concern itself with naturalreceived land use contracts for the government – they were not resource management.the forest land surrounding their officials themselves – and they These ethnic groups, togethervillage, and they knew these clearly disregarded the law. But labelled ‘Chut’ by Vietnamesecontracts had been issued with the villages have still lost faith ethnographers, have mostlystrict rules and regulations that their contracts give them been resettled following theabout forest protection. So when the power to manage the forests government policy to stopthe workers cut a number of around their community. shifting cultivation. Sometrees from the contracted land, For the villagers and the villages have been moved tothe villagers asked under whose CIRD staff involved in land new areas outside the forest,permission the trees had been allocation, this was not a small and given homes, tools andcut. problem. It indicates the long farm land. The workers didn’t seem to way to go before small forest- One example is the Ma Liengcare about permission. “What’s dwelling communities will truly people, who live in a few smallthe problem?” they asked, “the have the rights that forest villages in western Tuyen Hoa Existence January 2001 11
  12. 12. Villagers and staff worked on mapping together, based on existing land use.district. One of the villages, Ma Lieng people. Alcohol use Vietnamese communes, one inCao, was resettled by the became more common, and Tuyen Hoa and one in Minhgovernment to an area very many traditions and customs Hoa district. These communesclose to a Kinh (Vietnamese) began to dwindle. Eventually, were chosen because CIRDvillage. The new village, Chuoi, some of the villagers returned to wanted to gain as muchwas given homes, production their old location, where they experience as possible beforetools and seeds to grow wet believed their ancestor spirits moving on to ethnic minorityrice. would protect them. areas, and because it was felt Unfortunately, the villagers The situation in Chuoi village that province and districtwere not happy with the new contrasts with Ke village, which authorities would agree morehomes, mainly because altars was not resettled by the readily to land allocation inhad been built for them which government. When CIRD staff Vietnamese areas.did not correspond to the were carrying out research in The three pilot models aretraditional style. Ma Lieng Tuyen Hoa district in 1997, they now complete, and 2,869 ha ofpeople have very specific found that Ke village had very forest land has been allocated,cultural guidelines for choosing strong traditions and very along with 39 ha of cultivationwood for a house – particularly knowledgeable village elders. land, for 189 families and 12for the altar. None of the Because there were many other mass organisation branches (ofguidelines were followed, so the programmes already for Chuoi both the Women’s Union andCh u oi vi lla g er s wer e village, the CIRD staff decided Youth Union). Seven sets ofuncomfortable in their new Ke village would be a better site community regulations of foresthomes from the beginning. for a community development protection were established asAlso, the Ma Lieng villagers pilot model. part of the programme, bywere unfamiliar with wet rice One of the key components people in Ke village and the twoagriculture, and their yields of this pilot model was land Vietnamese communes.were very low. allocation for both cultivation On top of this, Chuoi village and forest land. At the same State forest policywas right next door to a time, CIRD staff decided toVietnamese village, and this had initiate a land allocation Before the late 1980s, the mainsome negative impacts on the pr ogr amme with two concern for state forest12 Existence January 2001
  13. 13. The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofCIRD requested that both wives and husbands’ names The first training course for farmers was on natural resourceappear on land use certificates. management and land rights, including the different laws forenterprises wa s meeting In this situation, CIRD for e st , a gr i cul t ura l an dproduction quotas that were wanted to create a series of pilot settlement land. After training,based simply on how much models that would demonstrate the land allocation processwood was cut. In this situation, the positive impact that land formally started, with specificf or e s t s w e r e e x p l oi t e d allocation can have on poor tasks for each village andindiscriminately. Furthermore, communities. In addition to household. Conflict resolutionthe rights and responsibilities of economic benefits, the hope was was discussed, to help preventdifferent groups in managing to demonstrate the women and any disputes. Then, mappingforests were not clear, which led men can gain knowledge and w a s c a r r i e d ou t wi t hto more exploitation. confidence about their rights individuals, households and Aft er doi moi, th e and responsibilities towards groups of households, togovernment slowly began to forest and cultivation land. confirm individual land plotschange its approach. The 1993 Furthermore, through the and obtain formal witnessesLand Law allowed most of the allocation of some forest land to from commune and districtbenefits associated with private mass organisations, the first step offices.ownership, and guidelines could be taken in creating a After this work was done,issued by the Ministry of legal basis for true community staff returned to the office toA gr i cultur e an d Rur al forests. check and analyse all theDevelopment permitted the documents. Formal maps wereallocation of forest land. Steps towards empowerment drawn and printed, and the final But still there are overlaps in results were confirmed with thegovernment policies and When CIRD staff decided to management board. Land-usedecrees, and complications and support a land allocation r i gh t s cer t i fi ca t es wer econflicts emerge as a result. programme in Minh Hoa and purchased, printed with twoCadastral staff do not have Tuyen Hoa districts, of utmost spaces for the names of bothenough training or resources, importance was involving the husband and wife. The finaland particularly in remote areas, farmers in as many steps as maps were submitted to thethe participation of villagers in possible. The programme was Cadastral office, and thethe allocation process is quite very thorough, as one of the certificates were signed. Thelimited. goals was to show the positive communes and villages were Many problems emerge as a role that a small NGO can play informed of the result, and aresult, including inappropriate in linking farmers and ceremony was organised toclassification of land types, government offices. distribute the certificates.poorly drawn maps, and The first was to meet with Afterwards, seminars weredocuments that are not accurate. province and district-level held to review the process andOfficials tend to record only the authorities, to get permission to discuss lessons learned. Thearea of land that is allocated and start the programme. Next, a whole process took ???? long.the number of families that meeting wa s held with All of the activities incurredreceive land. In other words, commune officials to notify cost s su ch a s tr a vel,they do not pay attention to real them of the programme. A accomodation, food, salaries,benefits for the communities. project management board was formal fees, printing and so on, Sometimes the results go established with members from but the programme still wasagainst the intentions of province, district and commune- inexpensive compared to manyallocating land in the first place. l e ve l o ffi c e s . W or ki n g other land allocation projects:Peopl e r ecei ve l and-use regulations were established and The total cost for one ha ofcertificates – called red books – an action plan created, based on forest land was 150,000 dong,but they do not understand the the Land Law. The management and the cost for agricultural landbenefits and responsibilities that board then select ed an was 550,000 dong.go along with these documents. implementation team, whoThe villagers prefer to receive would be responsible for the Women’s role recognisedcontracts, which give them training-of-trainer courses.much less right to the land – but For est , agri cult ural an d M or e i m p or t a n t t h a ndo come with money for settlement land was then financial considerations was theprotecting the contracted area. surveyed and classified. outcome for the villagers in Existence January 2001 13
  14. 14. terms of their knowledge,confidence and skills. One areathat was very important forCIRD was the participation ofwomen in the land allocationprocess. To ensure that the role ofwomen in natural resourcemanagement was recognised,CIRD requested that both wivesand husbands’ names appear onland use certificates. This waspossible because although bytradition it is men who inheritand ‘own’ land, all governmentdocuments are gender neutral.The issue was discussed withvillagers, who agreed that it wasimportant to represent women.Each community has its owncustoms regarding inheritance Mr Dung, the Ke village leader.and land use, and CIRD staffdid not try to challenge any of plots; the quality of forest in north. Because provincialthese traditions. Rather, the goal different areas; people wanting officials had to get involved,was to inform women of their land near family and clan there was more paperwork thanlegal rights and responsibilities, members; and overlaps in areas in other situations.and give them the confidence to allocated under Decree 02 and A crucial element of solvingbecome more active in previously contracted under or preventing conflicts is thec om m un i t y a n d fa m i l y Decree 01. c r e a t i on of c om m un i t ydecisions about land use. Also, areas previously regulations on forest protection Another part of involving allocated by government offices and land management. As CIRDwomen was allocating land to were not precisely demarcated, staff member Tran Quoc Hiencommune-level mass and some problems resulted writes:organisations, particularly the because there was no unified “Before land and forestWomen’s Union. This was how approach to allocation by allocation started, naturalCIRD approached the creation different government offices. resource management followedof ‘community forests,’ as land These conflicts all had to be top-down policies and directivescannot yet be allocated directly solved during the process of which did not pay attention toto a group of people – with the allocation, which meant that how people managed theirexception of existing mass villagers, officials and CIRD communities. But somethingorganisations. The goal is to staff had to work closely that must be recognised is thatpromote community forest areas together. Land allocation can managing and protecting naturalalongside individual plots, to sometimes bring to the surface resources depends a great dealgive people the opportunity to conflicts which have remained on the participation of thework together to develop a land dormant for years, and emotions community. Because of this, theuse plan and protect the forest. can run high. So far, however, role of the community must be the conflicts that arose have respected, and the community’s Not all conflicts are bad been solved amicably, and they own system of management actually pr ovid ed an must be written into regulationsThe participation of whole opportunity for farmers and on natural resourcecommunities was necessary staff to learn more about their management. This will helpbecause it was inevitable that rights and how to solve any preserve and promote thedisagreements and conflicts future land use disputes. traditional customs of each areawould emerge over the division The most time consuming and people, so that policies andof land. In the three areas where conflict involved a border directives can be built from theCIRD supported land allocation dispute between communes bottom up. Only this will resultprogrammes, conflicts emerged from different provinces — in true, sustainable managementover the location and size of Quang Binh and Ha Tinh to the of natural resources.”14 Existence January 2001
  15. 15. The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofA report on land allocation in Ngu Hoa communeThe following is a report written by Nguyen Huu Lai, resources – which is why life is not stable. Forestchairman of the People’s Committee of Ngu Hoa resources and the land are gradually beingcommune, Tuyen Hoa district. The report is entitled depleted.“Impact and results of the forest and land allocationprogramme and building community regulations in In April of 1997, the ICCO project (CIRD) cameNgu Hoa commune.” to Ngu Hoa, and completely changed the awareness and way of working of the people of Ngu Hoa – Ngu Hoa is a highland commune lying in the through the household economic garden.northeast of Tuyen Hoa, Quang Binh. It is locatedin an area where the border between Quang Binh Here, in this report, I will not talk about all theand Ha Tinh province is not clearly marked. activities of the project, like the study tours, training courses, and credit, or the results of In 1983 following the resettlement policy of building the Sot dam. Neither will I talk about theQuang Binh province, 200 of 225 familes in Ngu devoted efforts of the project staff. Instead, I willHoa were moved to Binh Thuan province (in the just talk about the positive impact of the land andsouth) to build a new economic zone. Ngu Hoa forest allocation programme that CIRD supportedcommune was abolished. In May of 1985, many and carried out in our commune.families returned, and the authorities reinstatedNgu Hoa as a commune at that time. As a commune staff member, I understand closely the hopes and aspirations of the people. Our commune is an area of high potential, with Observing the activites of the land and forestrich natural resources including the Rao Tro river allocation project, I have seen the following:and the Sot, Kin and Noc streams that are neverdry, and provide a good source of fresh water for - The land and forest allocation programme hasthe people. Forest resources in Ngu Hoa are rich been extremely important in terms of theand diverse, and the land is fertile. There is even a consciousness of the people and developing in a newflat plain of several dozen hectares near Y village direction. It is completely suitable with the needs ofthat can serve as pasture land. The low line of hills the people.on both sides of the Rao Tro is suitable for farming.Most of the food and goods we produce are from - Before allocating land, the people of Ngu Hoathe forest. Outside a small amount of fertile land, received training about Decree 02 on forest landmost people in Ngu Hoa farm on swidden fields. allocation, and their rights and responsibilities inEach year several dozen hectares of land is burnt receiving land. At the same time, the people of Ngufor fields, with the wood collected and sold. Hoa gained a better understanding of the value ofAgricultural production in Ngu Hoa depends our natural resources. The most important thingentirely on nature – the weather and natural (Continued on page 16) It is this bottom-up aspect of forest land surrounding their the villagers are waiting for anythe programme that Hien feels communities. The Ma Lieng response or action fromis responsible for the success people of Ke village discovered authorities at any level.recorded so far. Hien reports this when nothing was done Until they here any news, thethat villagers made their own about the wood cut from forest villagers have little faith in theactivities plans, and were aware land allocated to them. With rights accorded to them in theirof the releveant policies and CIRD assistance, the villagers land use certificates – rights thatdecrees, as well as the specific took their complaint to the CIRD staff told them would belocation and size of all plots of commune and district. They did protected by the government.land in their community. not ask to be reimbursed for the This points to a very important The villagers solved most wood, they just wanted to know issue that CIRD must considerconflicts themselves, based on what the law said about this as it continues to support landthe regulations they drafted. type of encroachment. allocation in other communities:This ensured that the process The villagers received no if no one pays attention to thewas fair, and it also helped build answer, so CIRD invited one rights of villagers in remotevillage solidarity. woman from Ke village, .... areas, then what good is a red Un fortunatel y, not all Khai, to explain the situation to book? ~outsiders respect the rights that Quang Binh provincial officials.farmers now have over the This was in the Fall, 2000. Still, Existence January 2001 15
  16. 16. for the project was not the area of land allocated, that the villagers trust and they have been active inbut the capacity and awareness of the people. getting results. - All conflicts related to land and borders were - After the training course, the peoplesolved by the commune and village authorities immediately became aware of the need to allocateamicably before allocation (such as the border forest. For example, Mr Ngoi and Lien from Villagebetween villages 4 and 5, the border of the 4 didn’t let their children go into the forest toResettlement Department forest, and some conflicts gather wood any more. And from the timebetween families in Village 4). This was very regulations were set up, deforestation has stoppedimportant not only for the process of allocation but completely. None of the people of Ngu Hoa enter thefor improving village spirit. forest to cut trees or collect wood anymore. And there have been no cases of forest being burnt, as - The work of allocating land was completely used to happen occasionally in the past.democratic, and carried out on the principle thateveryone should participate. The villagers discussed - After the management board dealt with threeamongst themselves, decided for themselves how to cases of outsiders from Mai Hoa entering the Ngudivide the land, and signed their own application Hoa forest, no outsiders have cut any trees in ourforms. Because of this, everyone understood very area. You never see boats from Mai Hoa, in Haclearly every detail about the land they were Tinh, loaded with wood on the Rao Tro river anyreceiving: the landmarks, borders, area, type of more.forest and an understanding of what they have todo with the land. - Families that have forest plots close together confer with each other to protect the land, so the - In the documents, the land and forest allocation village atmosphere is improved and strengthened.certificate has the name of both wife and husband,which means that women and men have an equal - To now, many families in villages 2,3 and 5role in using and managing land. This makes the have worked together to clear and trim forest, andwomen of Ngu Hoa much more encouraged and have begun small farm plots. Mr Dong, Thanh andconfident. Tinh have invested in fruit seedlings and planned pilot models, in the hope of seeing good results in a - In addition to land and forest allocation to few years.households, the programme allocated land to massorganisations, particularly the Women’s Union. All In sum, the land and forest allocationof the members of the union received land together, programme was timely and suitable with thewhich was good for the spirit and unity of the whole aspirations of Ngu Hoa people, and is a big step incommunity. raising awareness towards a new way of earning a living. Up to now we can assert that the forest of From the different steps of the land allocation Ngu Hoa is recuperating day by day. The life of thework, from the other support provided by the people is improving gradually. And most of all theprogramme, and from our own knowledge, the belief of the people is that tomorrow will be better.people of Ngu Hoa have had many opportunities to People can have confidence and take the initiativeraise our awareness. Although the land allocation in developing their land.programme has not been finished for long (only fivemonths) there has still been a positive impact on theeconomic, social and environmental situation in Quang BinhNgu Hoa commune. For example: October 10, 2000 Chairman of Ngu Hoa commune - To ensure our roles and responsibilities, and the (signed)value of forest resources, the people wrote for Nguyen Huu Laithemselves community regulations on protectingthe forest. These regulations were built frommeetings held in each village. After training, thevillagers came up with regulations for each village,and these were unified and ratified in a general listof regulations for the whole commune. - Another worthy point, along with the buildingof community regulations on managing andprotecting forests, was the selection of amanagement board. The management board has 7people: the commune chairman, commune policeofficer, and the village leaders. These are people16 Existence January 2001
  17. 17. The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofUniting gender and culture TEW’s approach to working with womenTEW’s goal is to overcome the potential contradiction in trying to strengthen bothtraditional culture and women’s roles, at the same time. The TEW project with SinhMun women like Vi Thi Khau, above, was the first chance for staff to put their ideasinto effect.F or TEW, there is a contradiction which must be solved forbalanced development to takeplace: traditional culture is the all create different needs, and possible conflicts. As a rule, there will always be some disagreement over the values of a community or culture – what changed gender relations th r ou gh p oli ci es lik e r e s e t t l e m e n t a n d fi x e d cultivation, and universal education. TEW is thereforeba sis for commun it y the values represent, and who another outside influence, onedevelopment, but it can also be should define or control them. that aims to pr ovidean obstacle to gender equality. D e ve l op m en t i n vol ve s opportunities for women to takeThe TEW strategy is to find a creating solutions for different more control of their lives.balance between the two. We groups, based on their practical It is our believe that givingcannot afford to concentrate and strategic needs. In this women opportunities does notonly on community rights, or process, individual needs are mean destroying or evenonly on individual rights. important as well as community damaging traditional culture.Furthermore, we have to work needs. For example, individuals Giving women opportunitiestowards both at the same time. should have the right to choose, allows both women and men toHow to accomplish this? the right to an education, and improve their lives, using their First, it is necessary to look the right to vote. If communities own efforts, and this can in factclosely at traditional cultures do not offer all of their improve gender relations withinand small communities. In all members these opportunities, a community. This has been thecommunities, there are different then people can be given T E W exper i en ce wi t hgroups, and these groups have opportunities by outsiders. community development sincedifferent needs. Divisions This has been the reality for 1994. In areas where womeninvolving clan, family, age, many years in Vietnam – have made major strideswealth, religion and gender can outsiders, usually the state, have forward, men recognise and Existence January 2001 17
  18. 18. DevelopmentEmpowerment of women Empowerment of ethnicbased on gender equality. minority communities based on cultural values. TEW strategy Gender Culture Individual rights Community rightsThe above diagram summarises the approach taken by TEW staff. Many projects support visible elements of minorityculture like weaving and embroidery — but there are many other ways of empowering women to expand their role inthe community.appreciate the value of thesedevelopments. Nonetheless, TEW needs avery clear strategy in how toinvolve women in developmentactivities, in communities wherethey do not normally engage inpublic events. The first step isthat all TEW staff must besensitive to gender issues, in allworking situations. Other stepsare: Know the culture. Know women’s needs andideas. Start with activities thewomen are already interested in. Start on the village level. Involve women in projectmanagement boards. Involve women in keyfa r m er n e t wor k i n g by:increasing confidence at villagelevel; involving women inspecific networks related totheir interests; and involvingwomen in national key farmernetwork. These steps are the basis forTEW’s approach to communitydevelopment in ethnic minoritycommunities. They will help toensure that women’s confidence examples of how this approach Sinh Mun women coordinatorsand knowledge can progress can be implemented is in the in 1994, and the project hasuntil they can take control of Sinh Mun community of Son La helped to completely turntheir own lives. province. TEW began working around the desperate situation One of the most successful with Bo Ngoi village and 17 the Sinh Mun people faced. ~18 Existence January 2001
  19. 19. The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofFirst steps in Bo Ngoi villageThe Sinh Mun village of Bo Ngoi was the first major TEW project siteSon La province officials told TEW not to work with Sinh Mun. The Sinh Mun werethe Sinh Mun ‘because they are too poor.’ This was reduced to scavenging in thejust the challenge TEW was looking for. for est for ya m s. Th e y exchanged some of the forest products they gathered with theT EW began working with TEW staff met the Sinh Mun Vietnamese and other outsiders. the Sinh Mun people villagers in 1994, their situation Despit e th e governm ent following the was still desperate and programme that began in 1985,organisation’s first project with conditions worsening, partly as by 1994 Bo Ngoi was one of thethe Dao community of Ba Vi, a result of the market economy. poorest of the Sinh Munnear Hanoi. The village of Bo Ngoi has villages in Son La. The TEW director wanted to 11 families. In 1985 they were Bo Ngoi is about 5 km fromfind the poorest and most moved from their original the centre of Phieng Khoaimarginalised community to test homes in Cuon Hut village to commune, and about 50 kmher approach to working with the valley of Bo Ngoi. The from the centre of Yen Chauethnic minorities. TEW chose to valley covers 25 ha and the land district. TEW chose Bo Ngoi aswork with the Sinh Mun people, is suitable for wet rice the site for a pilot modelwho live in a very remote area cultivation as well as other short because it was so poor, andof Son La, near the Lao border. -term crops. because it was in the middle ofThe Sinh Mun live largely by After two years of living in the commune so it was a goodhunting and gathering products the valley, a group of Kinh location for other Sinh Munfrom the forest, and in Son La (Vietnamese) from the crowded villages to come and study.forest resources are almost lowland province of Hai Duong TEW’s objectives for theexhausted. arrived in the area. They settled pilot model were to contribute The Sinh Mun were resettled in the valley and took about two to improving the livingbeginning in 1985, but when -thirds of the land used by the conditions of the villagers; Existence January 2001 19
  20. 20. cr eat e opport unit i es for material and spiritual lives. herbal medicine, TEW arrangedvillagers, particularly women, to Together with project staff, the a study tour to the Dao villageincrease their awareness of villagers discussed solutions of Yen Son in Ba Vi, Ha Tayhousehold, community and and built an action plan to province. In addition to herbalnatural resource management; tackle their problems. medicine, the Sinh Munand to expand the model to the The villagers appreciated the villagers learned about slopingother Sinh Mun villages of training methods employed for lan d cu lti vati on an dPhieng Khoai commune. the pilot model because they agroforestry at a pilot model in TEW at this time was a very were based on practical Ba Vi that the TEW directorsmall organisation with only a learning. Also, the training was helped set up in the early 1990s.few staff. The director’s goal led by the village elder andwas to use her experience from village leader, in addition to the Free market changeswor ki n g wi th th e Da o key farmers. The village eldercommunity of Ba Vi, near could ensure that all villagers The Sinh Mun people wereHanoi, to build a pilot model in participated, including the most vulnerable when the freea much more remote location. women. mar k et ch an g ed th eirSeveral sources of funding were Another method employed relationship with outsiders. Theexplored, and in the end TEW was letting farmers learn from villagers had little experiencedecided to work with IWDA, other farmers. When the Sinh buying and selling, so it wasthe International Women’s Mun expressed an interest in easy for Kinh outsiders to takeDevelopment Agency, of developing their knowledge of advantage of them. A TEWAustralia. IWDA representativeDi Kilsby travelled to Bo Ngoi Vi Thi Mun was one of the most active coordinators.village on several occasions. In working with the SinhMun community, TEW decidedto use a training-of-trainersapproach that would rely on keyfa rm er s ch osen by th ecommunity. These farmerswould join together in anetwork and receive training inspecific areas. The network ofkey farmers would then beresponsible for retraining allmembers of the community. From the key farmernetwork, several women werechosen to act as coordinators.Their role was to help manageactivities and oversee the workdone by the key farmers.Women were chosen to becoordinators so that TEW couldbe certain that women benefitedfrom the pilot model. A final strategy was to relyheavily on the strong points ofthe Bo Ngoi villagers and SinhMun culture in general, tosupport the activities and helpensure long-term success. A PRA research trip was heldto discover the needs of thecommunity. Villagers wereinvited to analyse the reasonsfor their problems, and theimpact problems had on their20 Existence January 2001
  21. 21. The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofreport explains the predicamentof the villagers: “Sinh Mu people say theylike going into the forest to earna living because when theylived next to the Kinh migrants,they felt inferior. They lackedself-confidence when meetingoutsiders. When they go into theforest, the Sinh Mun people feelat ease, because they aresurrounded by their own kind.Neighbours and relatives facedifficulties and solve problemstogether. They feel at peace,even though they only eat yamsand exchange a few forestproducts with outsiders – eventhough in 1993 they had toexchange 50 kg of corn to getone small package of MSG.” Economic impactsOne of the components of theproject was training for thewomen in how to use sewingm a ch i n e s . T wo s e wi n gmachines were purchased, and ateacher was hired and broughtto the village to train thewomen. The total cost of themachines and training course,including travel and salaries,was 3.25 million dong. Previously, the womenbought clothes at the market at a Economic changes were secondary to a leap in confidence for almost all theprice of 100,000 dong for a women in the village.women’s outfit (shirt andsarong). By purchasing fabric Similarly, the total cost of a of fruit yearly, on average, forand using the two machines course to teach the women how an income of 1.6 million dong.provided by the project, the to make tofu was 2.38 million On e of th e femalewomen save 15,500 dong per dong. The cost of 5 kg of soy, coordinators, Vi Thi Khau, didoutfit. There are thirty women making the tofu and travelling an econ omic an alysisin the village, who go through to market is 42,500 dong. The comparing her household tofu can be sold for 50,000 income in 1994, the year theabout two outfits per year. This dong, for a profit of 7,500 dong. project started, and 1998. Inmeans that 930,000 dong issaved every year by the village Six families can process a 1994, Khau earned most of herwomen if they sew their own total of 72 kg of soy every income from corn, rice, cuclothes. month, which can be sold for dong, bi ngo and y di. Her At this rate, the total cost of 108,000 dong. At this rate, the income was 4.17 million dongthe machines and training cost of the training course and for the year. By 1998, Khau wascourse was paid off after less machinery was paid off after also earning money from plums,than four years. Although this less than two years. ducks, cattle, tofu, and severaldoes not include the opportunity An even greater economic other sources. Her income hadcost of labour, the women say return was gained from the risen to 12.96 million dong, anthey sew only at times when household gardens growing increase of almost 9 million. plum trees. Each household Her household income hadthey are not otherwise occupied. garden is now producing 800 kg tripled in four years. Existence January 2001 21
  22. 22. Although not all families inBo Ngoi village had this type ofsuccess, village life changed agreat deal in economic terms.The number of households withenough to eat, or a lack of foodfor only one or two months peryear, increased from four to 12.The number of householdslacking food for 3 or moremonths per year dropped fromeight to two (there were 14households in the village by thetime the project ended, up from12 at the beginning). However, economic changeswere only the start. Land rightsand the establishment of acommunity forest area was Sinh Mun women and commune Women’s Union staff discuss genderequally important in raising concepts at a TEW workshop. Training in gender and credit was a key component of the project.peopl e’s confidence andst r en gth en in g cu lt ur e.Community regulations were setup on the use of naturalresources, and better knowledgeof the law and their rights hasallowed the Sinh Mun people toprotect their land fromencroachment. The confidence the womengained has allowed them tomanage activities themselves,and after the original three-yearproject ended, TEW providedcredit for the women tocontinue to develop theirhousehold economies. Thecoordinators manage this creditproject, and send regular reports IWDA representative Di Kilsby attends a meeting in Bo Ngoi. Di helped theto TEW. Now, the Sinh Muncoordinators can host studytours to demonstrate how theywere able to develop so quickly. One such study tour includeddevelopment workers andgovernment staff from PhongSaly province in Lao, who wantto continue learning from theSinh Mun – by bringing Laofarmers to Son La province tolearn first hand from thewomen. ~ Sinh Mun women and TEW staff review project activities with commune staff.22 Existence January 2001
  23. 23. The Centre for Human Ecology Studies ofUpdate story Who’s forest is it? Traditional leaders and state forest policy square off in highland VietnamOn January 1, 2001,villagers from On Occaught a truck loadedwith wood on the roadnear their village. n the eyes of theI Vietnamese government, Hm on g peopl e a r econsidered the most difficult toresettle. The government thinksit is very difficult to stop theHmong from shifting cultivationand growing opium. A lot ofeffort is made to get the Hmongto change their traditionalpractices. But the government is notalways right about the Hmong Fresh cut: evidence of illegal logging near On Oc village.and their relationship with the district. In Muong Lum samu forest; to make a borderforest. commune, where the Hmong for the area already protected by One Hmong community in villages are located, two the Hmong. The forester saidYen Chau district of Son La cooperatives were established. there was a change and now theprovince has closely followed One was for the Thai villages in district army would protect thethe government’s policy of the commune, and the other for forest.protecting the rare samu forest the Hmong. Each cooperative Vu Lao Lenh, the traditionalon their mountain. The two had an area of samu forest to leader in On Oc village, askedHmong villages of On Oc and protect. The border between the who had decided this change inPa Khom, with about 600 two forest areas was very stable policy.people in all, followed Ho Chi until 1975, and the district The forester said he wasMinh during the revolution, and government was very pleased following a 1994 decision of thethey have always placed great with how the Thai and Hmong central army of Vietnam, whichfaith in the Vietnamese were caring for forest. stated that army units shouldgovernment. In protecting the In the 1980’s, the Thai group protect valuable forests. Lenhforest, they are also following – much more numerous than the was very surprised and askedtheir ancestors, who handed Hmong – started to cut timber. why no one had informed thedown a strong tradition of Now the forest in their area is villagers first. The official justprotecting the forest. gone except for some small said the district or commune In 1954, soon after the regeneration plots. But the should have informed themFrench were overthrown, the forest under the care of the already. Lenh tried to keep avillage elders told the young Hmong of On Oc and Pa Khom smile on his face, but he couldpeople of the village to care for is still there. not accept what the man wasthe forest, both because the saying.nation demanded it and because New threats emerge After a few days, the forestrythe forest supported them. official brought a team and In 1959, the government set In 1997, a forestry official came marked the boundary of theup cooperatives in Yen Chau to the village to measure the forest with posts. Now the samu Existence January 2001 23
  24. 24. forest was under the protectionof the district army. Lenhwaited for someone to explainthe new policy and why theforest cared for by the Hmongnow belonged to someone else. Lenh also kept track ofwhether the army was patrollingto protect the forest, but theynever came. TEW became involved in1997-98, when we tried to helpthe district allocate forest andcultivation land for individualhouseholds. The district refusedto allocate forest land, but theydid allocate cultivation land.They said the forest already Village leaders confiscate a truck loaded with wood in the middle of the night.belonged to the army. In 1998, Dat Viet companysent a man to On Oc village, toask the villagers to cut samuwood in exchange for a newroad. TEW asked the villagersto refuse the company loggingroad, and then TEW foundsupport for the villagers to buildtheir own road. This project wasvery successful, and thevillagers built and managedtheir own road (this project isdescribed in the first issue ofExistence). Then, in 1999, the districtcancelled all the land usecertificates allocated with TEWsupport. They said thecertificates ‘were wrong’without explaining why. Villagers unload the wood the next morning. Commune authorities allowed After this, in 2000, the vice- another logging team to take the wood away, with no explanation given.chairman of the province issueda decision to allow the Mai Sonforest enterprise to remove deadsamu wood from the forest.This opened the door forlogging companies to cut freshsamu trees, then leave it in theforest to dry until it lookeddead. Lenh could not accept this, sohe brought the situation to theattention of the NationalAssembly in Hanoi. Lenh metMr Cu Hoa Van of the NationalAssembly’s committee forethnic minorities. Van called theparty leader of Son La provinceand the head of the Son La Samu planks left lying in the forest.24 Existence January 2001
  25. 25. The Centre for Human Ecology Studies offorestry department. Van toldthem to stop the cuttingimmediately. This worked atfirst, and no more logs were cut. But on January 1, 2001, thevillage forest protection teamfrom On Oc and Pa Khom, inthe middle of the night, caught atruck loaded with timber on theroad leading to their village.They brought the truck back toone of the villages. Theydiscovered the truck had papersfrom the forestry department ofthe district, but the papers hadexpired the previous September.The loggers were trying to useold papers to cut timber again. The villagers confiscated thesamu planks and kept them intheir village. Some days laterthe chairman of the communeallowed another team to cometo the village and take the woodaway, with no explanation givento the villagers. Villagers role ignoredThe above situation indicatesthat the working system of thegovernment at the commune,district and province level,along with logging companies,does not have the same attitudetowards forest protection as theHmong people of On Oc and PaKhom. The farmers want to carefor the forest because they The next to go?: Axe wounds on this tree indicate the loggers plan to comeunderstand their life – physicaland spiritual – depends on it. exactly what the Hmong link between Hmong people andThe local government levels, on farmers in Muong Lum are the forest.the other hand, take advantage thinking. It is clear they want to The government has had aof central policies to offer know why the district army can resettlement policy for 30 years,opportunities for logging take their forest, ignore it, and but the Hmong of On Oc and Pa then give it away to others to Khom have not needed this typecompanies to destroy the forest. cut down. The farmers know the of policy interrupting their lives. The villagers are hurt by thisbehaviour because they trust the army receives money from the They know better than anyonegovernment and the advice of government to protect the else how to live sustainable intheir ancestors: although poor, forest, along with awards and their environment. Help mustthey have cared for the forest recognition for a job well done arrive for the farmers to get backfor a very long time. Now, in – when in fact they do nothing the forest, so they can protect itonly a few months, they see a and it is the farmers who protect for the country, and for theirgreat deal of forest destroyed the trees. lives. The Hmong people and theand taken away, under what is Clearly, these are problems forest are calling for an answer,clearly collusion between local that policy makers must solve so they can both survive. ~government offices and logging immediately. It also indicates that many people need tocompanies. Now, who knows change their thinking about the Existence January 2001 25
  26. 26. TEW and CIRD project areas Lao Cai province (Hmong ethnic group) Ha Tay province (Dao ethnic group) Son La province (Hmong, Sinh CIRD: Mun and Thai Quang Binh ethnic groups) province (Ma Lieng, Ruc, Sach, Khua, Arem, Nghe An province Ma Coong, May and (Thai ethnic group) Kinh ethnic groups) VIET NAM Dak Lak province (Mnong and Ede ethnic groups) Soc Trang and Ninh Thuan provinces (Kinh and Khmer ethnic groups)TEW (Towards Ethnic Women)A4 Lang Khoa Hoc Ngoc Khanh, Ba Dinh, Ha Noi, Viet Nam, tel (84-4) 771-5690, fax (84-4) 771-5691email: hntew@netnam.org.vnCIRD (the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge Research and Development)Dong Le, Tuyen Hoa district, Quang Binh, Viet Nam, tel (84-52) 844-227, email: cird@netnam.org.vn26 Existence January 2001

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