Vietnam -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Piloting poverty reduction: Mr. Hai and Ms. Hong and their family have access to decent water and sanitation thanks to Habitat.
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VIETNAM IS A COUNTRY OF divine contrasts. The scene changes from the bustling and chaotic streets of Hanoi in the north, down 3,450 km. of coastline to the tranquil rice paddies and tropical islands in the south. Its difficult past has not stopped Vietnam from developing into a dynamic modern economy, thanks to the tenacity and determination of the Vietnamese people.
The country has experienced significant economic growth in the past two decades as the country shifted to a market style economy. A driving force for the future is Vietnam’s strongly motivated and educated population – the country boasts a 90 per cent literacy rate.
Even though Vietnam is one of the world’s fastest growing economies, there are presently 4.6 million poor households, according to the government’s own statistics. Recent data show that 7,000 billion dong (about US$433 million) in financial support is needed for 700,000 households live in dilapidated homes.
Habitat’s work in Vietnam is undertaken through a branch office of Habitat for Humanity International that was established in October 2002. Currently, Habitat has projects in the southern provinces of Kien Giang, Tien Giang, Dong Nai as well as Ho Chi Minh City. Earlier, Habitat had a small operation in the coastal city of Danang, where 20 families were assisted through 2004.
To meet pressing housing and development needs in Vietnam, Habitat has a five-year strategic plan that aims to serve 18,000 families by 2011. This is being achieved through a combination of approaches that include the provision of housing microfinance services, vocational and technical training, as well as technical support in shelter, water and sanitation projects. Through these, Habitat is helping to transform communities by improving health and well being, engaging women in decision making, and involving community and youth groups in promoting civic society.
In March 2005, Habitat started a pilot project to reduce poverty levels in four districts of the southern province of Kien Giang. This initiative, with the help of the provincial authorities, extended existing microfinance networks so families could save and access credit for home improvements. The approach proved a speedy way to help hundreds of families. It is replicated in another pilot project in another southern province, Tien Giang, where more than 1,000 families are being provided with improved sanitation and housing.
Habitat plans to establish Habitat resource centers in the capital, Hanoi, and elsewhere to act as a catalyst for supporting Habitat operations and partners through fund-raising, project management and training.
In 2007, Habitat began hosting volunteers, both from within Vietnam and overseas. Habitat is also working to attract support from locally-based multinational corporations, local microfinance institutions and government partners already working with the urban and rural poor.
• In June 2007, a 15-strong team of Vietnamese students and members of Sozo Café helped to build two homes in My Tho, capital of Tien Giang province.
• The first Global Village team from the International School of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, helped construct three homes in My Tho.
• Habitat hosted its first corporate team in January 2007 when 12 volunteers from Dow Chemical’s Vietnam representative office worked with two families in Nha Be district, Ho Chi Minh City, to make home improvements.
• Government units in Kien Giang and Tien Giang provinces have committed US$100,000 in counterpart funding through 2007.
• Nike Vietnam has funded a factory housing project in Dong Nai province with an initial donation of US$25,000. It also contributed US$1,500 for student scholarships in Kien Giang province and donated computers to Habitat Resource Centers in Ho Chi Minh City and Rach Gia, and Kien Giang. In April 2007, 12 Nike staff helped two families in Binh Loi, Dong Nai province to improve their homes.
• Vietnam’s leading microfinance institution, Capital Aid Fund for Employment of the Poor in Ho Chi Minh City, invested US$40,000 to match Habitat’s initial investment in a pilot urban project to assist 300 families.
• Strong partnerships exist with Kien Giang’s Women’s Union, Tien Giang’s Fatherland Front, Vietnam Red Cross, and various microfinance institutions.
• Other key corporate partnerships are being formed with MoneyGram, Coke-Sabco, Cargill Corp, Citigroup, Ford Motors and the Marriott group.
Population: 85.3 million (est. July 2007)
Area: 325,360 sq. km.
Ethnic groups: Kinh (Viet) 86.2%, Tay 1.9%, Thai 1.7%, Muong 1.5%, Khome 1.4%, Hoa 1.1%, Nun 1.1%, Hmong 1%, others 4.1% (1999 census)
Languages: Vietnamese (official), English, French, Chinese, Khmer, others.
Religions: Buddhist, Taoist, Roman Catholic, indigenous beliefs, Muslim, Protestant, Cao Dai, Hoa Hao