|Volume 11, Issue 1||Interchange||April 2001|
Small Irrigation Schemes & Programs are in development. Six million hectares of natural grass lands exist. Forest land is eleven million hectares. Crops are 24% of GDP, while livestock are 22%. A Household Income Survey found that a significant portion of rural incomes comes from livestock and that rice is a staple for the Lao people. 93% of daily energy intake comes from cereal, only 7% from animal products when recommendations are closer to 40%.
Also of concern is a low level of farm production, poor commercialization and too many small farms. The strategy to meet needs includes the allocation of more budget to increase agricultural activity and research.
Market oriented production and improved productivity are keys to eradication of rural poverty strategies.
Nguyen Manh Trung, Department of Planning
Since 1989, there have been many agricultural achievements toward food security for Vietnam; increase in population is matched by increased per capita food production. Once ½ to 1 million tons of food a year were imported; they can now export rice. Rice exports average 2 million tons a year over the last ten years, and the food supply is more and more stable.
The National Program on Hunger and Poverty Alleviation in remote areas has improved access to food. Since 1990, there are more farmers who are not poor.
Main issues still faced in food security include: the living standard of the majority of people has been significantly improved, though 15% of households still live in poverty, and a portion of those still starve between crop periods. Population growth remains high and puts pressure on food demand as well as poverty reduction. Land reclamation, urban growth and urbanization are slowly encroaching on arable land. Migration from rural to urban areas and movement of people adds to both unemployment and environmental degradation. Vietnam exports rice, meat and coffee but the international market prices for coffee and tea are low and crops are affected by the frequency of natural disasters and by fluctuations in price. While promoting industrialization and modernization, Vietnam must pay attention to agricultural production as well. The country needs to ensure food reserves to prepare for calamities. Agriculture is essential for economic development and social stability.
Ken Noah Davies
Results of a WFP nutritional survey of Cambodia were presented through a series of slides, which could not be deciphered on the videotape.
Grass Roots Organizations and Their Role in Meeting Development Needs
Moderator: John Vijgben, Development Specialist
Panelists: Ho Yeth, Krom Akphiwat Phum
Le Thi Bang Tam, Senior Program Officer, Vietnam Women's Union
Scott Lieper, UNDP/CARERE
Chanthoum Latmany, Lao Women's Union
Nguyen Hong, Vietnam Youth Federation
John Vijgben put the discussion in context, noting that the real common denominator in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam is that these countries have been devastated by war, and that they must start over with development. In Laos and Vietnam, projects are closely incorporated into the government while they are more likely to be independent in Cambodia. Across the region, many development projects are United Nations initiatives.
Ho Yeth, Krom Akphiwat Phum
KAWP Cambodia, a grass roots organization which receives primarily international assistance, consists of a handful of core teams trained in community development strategies through a training program facilitated by outside specialists. KAWP staffers go through an organizational and community development training that forms the basis of their work. These core teams have been working for six years in 33 communities, primarily in Battambang province. KAWP teams coordinate with other organizations working in the region to share knowledge and expertise in working towards their basic goals, mitigating the effects of poverty and restoring self-respect in communities, with an emphasis on sustainability and social development.
In the long run, projects will only work if they directly address local views and focus on improving resource distribution at the village level. KAWP teams work with other agencies to form village development committees that can collaborate on projects. The primary issue for KAWP teams is that poverty alleviation is not achievable as long as corruption among government officials skims money from programs. In addition, the gap between rich and poor is growing in Cambodia, which makes KAWPs work harder.
The KAWP strategy involves participatory decision making and reciprocal benefit sharing which make changes more lasting. The community development process is broken into stages, wherein KAWP teams look at the particular community in question and hear what people are saying, and then facilitate village meetings where villagers can give input about what they see as the priorities in their area, and what they see as possible solutions. These suggestions become an essential part of the KAWP strategy.
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