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Community unites to minimise damage from natural disasters
Posted: Apr 28,2006
Residents of Ninh Phuoc District of Ninh Thuan Province take part in a training course on first aid for flood victims.

"Through the project I learned that growing early-maturing rice and other crops would allow me to harvest before the flood comes," said Cu Thi Huong in Ninh Thuan Province.

Huong, 50, along with 83 other households in her commune participated in a project to learn how to use early-maturing maize as an alternative crop, as maize is less likely to be affected by flood.

The project provided the seeds and fertilisers while each household contributed VND30,000.

The commune cultivated over three hectares of land in the project.

Huong said in the past she had to harvest prematurely to save her peanut crop from the flood but that this year, by using early-maturing seeds, the crops are ready to harvest before the flood.

This is a part of the project that focuses on community-based disaster risk reduction and management projects.

The project was launched by ActionAid Vietnam.

The project is also sponsored by the EC in Ninh Thuan, Tra Vinh and Ha Tinh provinces.

Nguyen Thi Lieu, 49, is part of the new rescue team in Duc Giang Commune. Lieu and four others from her commune participated in a five-day training course on first aid and evacuation skills at the provincial level.

Now their team is able to provide first aid to people affected by floods and move them to health facilities on safe ground.

They have already tested their skills and have realised first-hand the value of collaboration.

Lieu said "no one can rescue people alone so co-ordination is very important. To some extent I get frightened when the stream from the flood is strong but I have to fulfil my task and there are many others working with me which makes me confident."

Their team has also provided training to other community members. "We have become trainers ourselves and have given three training courses so far. Each of the training courses were attended by 30 participants.

In each of the hamlets rescue training was incorporated into other ongoing programmes. Every month I'm allowed 5-10 minutes of the hamlet meeting to brief the community. Each time I chose one item of content such as first aid, evacuation, or preparedness. We also visit schools to talk about first aid skills."

In addition to providing training, the project also carried out cultural activities including traditional song, drama and dance, as well another ways of educating local people about disaster preparedness, prevention and management.

Thach Thi Sao, 53, is a shrimp farmer who lives in Cau Ngang Commune in the province of Tra Vinh where clean water is a rare commodity due to salinity problems.

Sao said "We used canals with salty water to breed shrimp. But we did not have water to grow vegetables and did not understand how we could prevent the salty water from contaminating our wells."

Sao and seven of her relatives attended the drama night held in her commune after hearing about it through loudspeakers. The drama made us more aware of the importance of having a separate part of the canal to fill with rain water to water the vegetables. This also prevents the salty water from contaminating our fields.

Many people attended the drama. I have discussed the usefulness of the programme with others. Before we were very confused about the situation, we didn't know that the water in a well could absorb salt and we didn't understand why we couldn't grow any crops, why we could only raise shrimp."

Kieu Thanh Thich, in Phuoc Hai, said most of the people in the village are Cham ethnic people, many of them are illiterate and lack knowledge on natural disaster.

However, since the project, their knowledge has changed a lot and they have a better understanding of natural disasters and ways to prepare for them Thich said.

Thich also said many people use the loans from the project to raise cows.

Thich added that the project is helping people to have better lives.

Nguyen Van Le, 9 years old in the same commune said, "The project taught me I should unplug the electricity source for safety. I know how to save water to cope with the drought as well."

Viet Nam News

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"... From the beginning of the first century A.D., when the two Trung Sisters rose up to fight the enemy and save the nation, until now, whenever our country has faced danger, our women have contributed whatever they could toward the cause of national liberation.

Our people are grateful that our mothers from South and North alike have borne and raised our nation's generation of heroes....

Under the Socialist system, tens of thousands of women have become specialists in different fields and, as cadre, serve as directors and vice-directors of factories, leaders of farming cooperatives, presidents of People’s Committees, and general secretaries of Party Cells....

And so, the women of Vietnam from ancient times until now, from South to North, from young to old, are truly heroes ..."

(Excerpted from President Ho Chi Minh's speech on the 36th Anniversary of Vietnam Women's Union 20 October 1966)

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