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Norway offers hope to mountain village VNTimes


Drinks are on us: The Norwegian Red Cross project helps villagers build new cisterns, which provide fresh water for over 100 households.

by Nguyen Van Ty

Remote Nghet Village in the northern province of Tuyen Quang has new concrete paths and new solid cisterns thanks to finance provided by the Norwegian Red Cross.

Nghet Village, located in Yen Son District of Tuyen Quang Province, is home to over 100 families of more than 400 people of the White Dao Quan ethnic group.

The local economy is mainly based on a small plot of rice. There is no market in the area so the families are mostly self-sufficient. Most of the land is under protective forests.

Nghet village is 30km from Tuyen Quang City, half a day's travel, partly by a poor walking track which is difficult to negotiate in wet weather.

Helping hands: Many Nghet villagers have participated in the building of new paths around the village.

In addition, the educational standards of the villagers are low, with many elderly unable to speak standard Vietnamese.

Says resident Dang Van Than: "My family has four children of school age, the eldest is an eighth-grader while the smallest one is attending a nursery school.

"On rainy days, it used to be very difficult to take the children to school when the path was muddy.

"My family totally depends on 360sq m of paddy and 1ha of cassava. The cassava is mainly used for seed and for sale, but I couldn't take the cassava to the market so it used to be sold at a very low price to dealers going to my house."

However, the life of Than's family as well as of other villagers has changed dramatically, since early last year Nghet was chosen for the Norwegian Red Cross project.

All for one: Meetings among Nghet villagers are held frequently and democratically to ensure financial support is allocated to appropriate families.

Head of the village Ly Van Ngoc says that at the beginning of the project the villagers did not know what was going on so the local authority and project management board explained it and got all the villagers on board. The project provided 80 toilets, 50 cisterns and 25 new paths.

Ly Van Dau's family took part and benefited from the project activities. Dau helped construct a 50m path from the main road to his house and installed a toilet and cistern.

"Now we can easily go to the city market, while the children don't have as many difficulties in going to school as they used to. All families now have fresh water."

Hoang Quoc Minh's family also is very thankful for the Norwegians' help. They got paths, toilets and water. "Now we don't have to walk to the mountain streams for water," Minh says.

On the road again: New paths run to each house in Nghet Village, offering more convenient transportation. Photos Nguyen Van Ty

Provincial Red Cross chairman Ma Dinh The is also head of the management board, He says the project received strong support all round. The water project alone cost VND1 billion (US$50,000), to supply fresh water to 103 families in 309 villagers, surpassing the target of 98 families with 294 villagers.

Each family is supported with VND1.2 million ($60) to build new cisterns and VND1.5 ($75) to build new toilets.

The project included training in social disease prevention and sanitation.

The total cost was nearly VND1.7 billion ($85,000), more than 50% of which was financed by the Norwegian Red Cross and the rest was contributed by the villagers.

"There have been many positive changes in our sanity habit. The environment has therefore become cleaner and the villagers have had better health. The new paths have allow more convenient travel, so we don't have to wade across stream anymore", says Than. "We are very happy to receive the support from the Norwegian Red Cross".

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