Denmark Actively Supports Dien Bien to Reduce Poverty

1:25:31 PM | 12/11/2011

Dien Bien is among Vietnamese provinces that have received significant support from the Danish Government’s Agriculture and Rural Development Sector Programme Support (ARD SPS) for the 2007 - 2012 period which aims to ease poverty in Vietnam’s highlands, particularly among ethnic minorities, by means of sustainable agricultural and rural development. To learn more about Denmark’s contributions to Vietnam in general and Dien Bien province in particular, Vietnam Business Forum interviewed Mr Hoang Van Nhan, Vice Chairman of Dien Bien Provincial People’s Committee. Que Chi reports.
How do you evaluate Denmark’s contribution to Dien Bien province?
Dien Bien is a poor mountainous province. In recent years, thanks to investments and support from the Government and central agencies, the material and spiritual lives of people have been improved and infrastructure systems have been upgraded. Besides, Dien Bien province has received valuable support and assistance from the Danish Government for various fields like administrative reform, public relations, and legal consultancy, agriculture, rural development, Programme 135 (Phase 2), rural water supply and environmental hygiene programme. As for administrative reform and legal consultancy, Dien Bien province implemented the public administration reform programme support for the 2007 - 2011 period, a VND10 billion programme sponsored by the Government of Denmark. Major contents of the programme were to enhance the public administration reform capacity, administrative institutional reform, managerial personnel training, and expand the application of modern technologies and processes to public administration.
The public administration reform programme has brought significant progress in social and economic aspects. The provincial competitiveness index (PCI) improved significantly, jumping 17 places in the ranking (from the bottom of 64 rated provinces and cities in 2008 to 47th place out of 63 localities). In agricultural and rural development, Dien Bien province has received 3.7 million Danish kroner (US$690,000) from the Danish Government’s Agriculture and Rural Development Sector Programme Support since 2008, which will be completed in late December 2012. In four years from 2008 to 2011, the programme has helped enhance production capacity, livelihood and basic living conditions of farmers (mainly ethnic minorities). It also helped the province raise professional levels in terms of plant protection, veterinary hygiene, food safety, quarantine, and forest fire prevention for 2,620 agricultural officials at provincial and district levels. It also trained 6,795 farmers in 100 villages in 80 communes in many districts, towns and cities concerning farming techniques, livestock, animal disease prevention, post-harvest preservation, gender equality knowledge improvement, and integrated pest management (IPM) application. To date, the programme has been funded with a total of VND47.935 billion (including VND14 billion in 2011), of which VND40.938 billion (US$2 million) has been disbursed. Dien Bien province has recommended and received the continued support of VND83.615 billion for operations of target programmes in 2011 and 2012 (supplementing VND14.636 billion for 2011 and VND68.979 billion for 2012).
In addition to the programme’s financial support, the Danish Embassy in Vietnam is also granting funds for Dien Bien province to build the master plan for agriculture and rural development in the 2011 - 2015 period, with vision to 2020. For the time being, the draft plan has been completed and the province is choosing consultants for the plan establishment in the first quarter of 2012. It is undeniable that the assistance of the Danish Government in the past years has significantly contributed to the realisation of six development objectives of the agricultural sector in the 2011 - 2015 period.
How has the project “Social Inclusion in Economic Enterprise Development” (SIEED), co-funded by the European Commission and Danish CARE, been going in Dien Bien province?
The project was assessed by specialised agencies in the province and submitted to the Government for approval. On May 23, 2008, the Prime Minister issued Document 790/TTg-QHQT to ratify the project. Then, Dien Bien province signed an agreement with CARE International in Vietnam to deploy the SIEED project in Dien Bien, Dien Bien Dong and Tua Chua districts. To date, the project has been carried out in all 10 target communes in Dien Bien, Dien Bien Dong and Tua Chua districts where 85 villages were supported to set up interest and cooperation groups. The project has attracted over 2,200 members who benefit from its support activities. Besides, the province organised 37 training courses to improve capacity and knowledge for stakeholders, from project officials to farmers, and 100 on-site training classes for members in interest and cooperation groups. It also hosted 10 field-trip visits in Dien Bien province and other localities for stakeholders and farmers to learn and share experience in new production models like rattan planting and processing. These models have brought in practical results and have huge impacts on perception in the community. Farmers gradually shifted from subsistence to market-oriented production, with the focus on enhancing product value (local goat husbandry cooperation model, local purebred black-bone chicken reproduction model, etc). With the project’s support, incomes of participating households increased 15 percent a year on average.
Will Dien Bien need more projects and support from Denmark to escape poverty and develop more sustainably?
As I have said, Dien Bien is a poor mountainous province. It lacks big sustainability-oriented investment programmes and projects to support local people, particular those in remote areas. Actually, Dien Bien province is indeed in need of the Danish Government’s continued and financial support and increased investments for agricultural and rural development, health and education to improve levels, capabilities and living standards of local people. The province also particularly needs projects to improve rural clean water supply and environmental sanitation and other sustainability-based projects and programmes.