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Turning local resources into sustainable tourism products

Huong Hoa, a mountainous district of Quang Tri province is well-known for a chilling climate and magnificent natural landscapes. Since transport infrastructure is vastly improved, the locality has become a popular getaway destination for visitors in and out of the province.

According to Quang Tri provincial television, the idyllic beauty of waterfalls is a prominent feature that make Huong Hoa stand out. With the alluring view of cascading water, misty fresh air and the refreshing sensation of dipping in a natural plunge basin, a waterfall pleases multiple senses at the same time. Leaving behind the bustling urban life, trekking, swimming or going picnic at a waterfall site amidst the lush green nature seems to be a perfect choice for recreation.

Chenh Venh waterfall. Photo: MCNV

In a remote locality like Huong Hoa, the experience seems even more appealing since most of the waterfalls are left unmanaged, and therefore, no entrance or service fee is charged. Visitors can do whatever they like as long as they wish at a waterfall site. This factor, at the same time, also means the increase of safety risks, due to numerous seen and hidden hazards. Extra strong current and whirlpools, unseen logs and boulders, steep rock cliffs, any of them can easily lead to falling or drowning accidents, especially when people lack of vigilance and survival skills. Furthermore, due to the isolated location, the likelihood of getting immediate medical attention at a waterfall is very low.

In the last four years, at least two drowning deaths were recorded, at Chenh Venh waterfall (Chenh Venh village, Huong Phung commune), with the latest happened in May 2020. In addition to claiming lives, unmanaged tourism also puts the environment at risk, due to littering, improper smoking, irresponsible campfire, etc.

Extra strong current, logs and boulders are some of the threats in a waterfall like Chenh Venh.

In order to unleash the potentials of natural and cultural resources in a sustainable way, the People’s Committee of Huong Hoa district has come up with a comprehensive plan on community-based tourism. Part of the plan is dedicated to turning local waterfalls into established tourism site.

As a long-standing partner of Quang Tri province and Huong Hoa district in particular, MCNV is joining the local authority in this initiative. The first step is turning Chenh Venh waterfall into an established tourism site and is implemented as part of the project “Promoting sustainable partnership between CSOs and enterprises for sustainable forest management in the context of climate change” (PROSPER), co- funded by the European Union.

A discussion between MCNV, local authorities and people in Chenh Venh village. Photo: MCNV

Currently, key infrastructure at Chenh Venh waterfall site has been completed, including upgrading staircases, installing information board, protective barriers, hazard signs, dust bins and building bamboo huts for tourists.

Bamboo huts at Chenh Venh waterfall site. Photo: MCNV

At the same time, a group of on-site tourism staff is established, with the majority recruited from the village’s forest protection team and the residents living close to the waterfall. The staff is tasked with collecting entrance fees, providing huts renting services, maintaining safety and sanitation at the site. Along with first aid packages and personal floatation devices, the staff has been equipped with basic first aid skills, thanks to a course joinly conducted by MCNV and local health centers.

A local staff collecting trashes at the site. Photo by MCNV

According to the management board of Chenh Venh waterfall site, during the recent national public holidays (from April 28th to May 1st), the total proceedings collected from entrance fees (VND 10,000/1 person) and hut renting fees (VND 120,000/hut) was VND 4 million – a relatively large amount to a remote mountainous village like Chenh Venh. Half of the proceeding was paid as wage for the staff, while the rest went toward Chenh Venh village’s Forest Protection Fund.

In the time to come, food and beverage stalls will be set up at the site to provide tourists with the fresh taste of local specialties. At the moment, MCNV is working on preparing the staff with requisite skills in tourism services, such as reception, tour guiding, food hygiene and safety, etc.

The initial outcome of Chenh Venh waterfall site transformation signals a promising future of a bigger project titled “Developing Chenh Venh ecotourism village” jointly implemented by MCNV and Huong Hoa district. The project is implemented based on the advantages possessed by Chenh Venh village in terms of climate, natural landscape, agriculture and geographical position.

Palm leaves are collected to build Van Kieu ethnic minority’s traditional house. Photo: MCNV

Located on the Ho Chi Minh trail which connects Quang Tri with the world-heritage Phong Nha-Ke Bang cave, Chenh Venh village is where the authentic cultural identies of Van Kieu-Pa Co ethicity are well preserved, with tradional occupations like bamboo rattan handicraft, brocade weaving, straw liquor making.

With the sponsorship worths VND 650 million (~EUR 25,000) from MCNV, the project is implemented in the second half of 2021. From July to the end of year, MCNV will work together with local authorities, technical consultants and local residents to complete requisite features of a tourism village, including: rebuilding Bru-Van Kieu ethnic stilt-house, setting up specialties pavillion, constructing clean water system, upgrading vegetables, flowers gardens and livestocks shelters; renovating pavements, roads; etc.

A fish pond is being built as part of the eco tourism village complex. Photo: MCNV

In addition to natural landscapes, Huong Hoa district is famous for numerous tourist attractions including Khe Sanh Victory Monument, Ta Con Airport, Sa Mu pass, etc. In 2019, the number of overseas visitors to Huong Hoa district was estimated at 14,000. Currently, due to the complication of COVID-19, the tourism industry in Vietnam and the world is temporarily ‘frozen’. In the future, when the pandemic is well controled, Chenh Venh ecotourism village is expected to contribute to the recovery of tourism in Central region in particular and Vietnam in general./.

Chenh Venh ecotourism village is under construction. Photo by MCNV

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Extended submission deadline for Homemade with Heart contest

We would love to announce that the deadline of Homemade with Heart contest has been extended to September 30th, 2021 (instead of August 31st).

With this adjustment, we hope that our contestants will have more time to work on their inventions, since we understand that many are having difficulty in the preparation process, especially in purchasing the materials amidst the pandemic restrictions in Vietnam.

Keep calm, try your best and stay tuned for our coming announcements for the new voting deadline and awarding ceremony (scheduled in October 2021)./.

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Homemade with Heart season #2 open for application

After the first successful season in 2020, Homemade with Heart is back this year!!

💁‍♀️💁‍♂️Regardless of what your profession is, as long as you have the passion for invention, the aspiration to support independence and participation of persons with disabilities.

💙 Homemade with Heart contest is for YOU !!!

The contest aims to stimulate the sharing of simple ideas and inventions that support the autonomy of persons with disabilities (PwDs) during their daily life activities. With two categories (Professional & Non-Professional), Homemade with Heart will help open a world of possibilities for PwDs and at the same time unlock your potential for creativity.

🆙👉Check out the contest’s website to know more about the application https://homemadewithheart.vn/

This contest is brought to you by Humanity &Inclusion Vietnam and USAID, in partnership with MCNV, ACDC and JICA

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Magazine 2021-2

For our magazine in Dutch, click here.

Magazine_2021-2

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Publication of annual report 2020

Please find here after our annual report and annual account 2020, in English. For a download version click here.

MCNV_Annual-report-account-2020

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MCNV joins Quang Tri frontline fighters in the battle against COVID-19

MCNV representative (left) presents aid package to Huong Lap Healthcare Center.

Located amidst steep mountain slopes and winding, treacherous roads, Huong Lap is a poor, impoverished commune in Quang Tri Province, on the border with Laos. After being striken by the historic devastating flashfloods and landslides last October-November, the commune, at the moment, is finding itseft in the middle of the fierce battle against the fourth wave of COVID-19.

During the historic flood sweeping through Vietnam’s central region in October and November 2020, Huong Lap was completely secluded.

Since the start of the pandemic, Vietnam’s widely praised response to contain the virus has depended on three main pillars: (i) strict border controls, (ii) effective isolation of cases and their contacts and (iii) mobilization of public support. For the commune of Huong Lap, this meant maintaining a high vigilance along the porous border with Laos and their small healthcare center had to double as a clinic and quarantine facility.

Border guards had to spend extended periods away from their families, stay in basic border huts and maintain regular patrols along the dense forest tracks used as illegal crossings into Vietnam. For health workers, it meant testing and quarantining people who may have been at risk of infection from COVID-19. Since April 2021, Huong Lap Healthcare Center has quarantined 229 cases returning from localities affected by the pandemic across the country and 9 cases of illegal entry.

The aid package sponsored for Huong Lap Healthcare Center consists of four-layer medical masks, hand sanitizers, infrared thermometers, aneroid monitor for measuring blood pressure and solar-power lightings.

In order to assist Huong Lap commune in the battle against COVID-19, from May 28th to June 4th, 2021, the Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV) presented aids worth over VND 50 million (~EUR 1790) to Huong Lap Healthcare Center and Border guard station.

The aid package sponsored for Huong Lap Healthcare Center consists of 5 aneroid monitor for measuring blood pressure, 5 digital infrared thermometers, 50 boxes of four-layer antimicrobial masks, 50 bottle of hand sanitizers (500ml/each) and 6 solar-powered lightings. The total value of the aid is VND 19.7 million.

The Huong Lap Healthcare Center has been providing basic healthcare services to local residents, majorly people of Van Kieu ethnic minority. On average, the Center receives 15-20 clients a day. During peak time, for instance, monthly vaccination day, this number can hit 200. At the moment, the Center has been struggling with several challenges caused by limited infrastructures, including power outages. Solar-powered lighting therefore is essential to help the Center maintain operations.

“We are extremely grateful for MCNV’s precious support. Your generosity has not only enabled us to upgrade our clinic and purchase vital equipment but also motivates us to strive harder in the battle against COVID-19.” exclaimed Doctor Nguyen Thi Mui, Head of Huong Lap Healthcare Center.

The solar-powered lightings installed at Huong Lap Heathcare Center

On this occasion, MCNV visited Huong Lap commune Border Guards Station and presented an aid package MCNV consisting of 02 gas stoves, gas tanks, electrical wires, 12 water containers and mini water filters, with total value of VND 31.5 million. The aid aims to help improve the living and working condition of the border guard forces, who have been dedicated vast efforts to control illegal entry in order to help prevent the locality from COVID-19 transmission.

On behalf of Huong Lap commune Border Guard Station, Colonel Nguyen Dinh Phu, expressed his gratitude to the timely and practical supports of MCNV to improve the living conditions of his officers stationed at the Huong Lap border patrol post. “My officers now have more energy, and their morale is high to continue their vital work, thanks to MCNV,” he said.

Colonel Nguyen Dinh Phu (left) installs the water filter.

In the next couple weeks, MCNV will provide electrical wires worth VND 20 million (~EUR 715) to support another Border guard station in Quang Tri in supplying power to new border checkpoints./.


Quang Tri is MCNV’s key beneficiary locality, where the organization started its supports for Vietnam in 1974. For the past 15 years, MCNV has diversified its fields of support for Vietnam by implementing projects in livelihood, response to climate change,social inclusion, etc. In addition to long-term development project, currently MCNV has been coordinating the effort of donors in and out of Vietnam to implement respond-to-crisis activities.

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Microfinance – an escape from poverty

Ms. Nguyễn Thị Phương Thảo has always been a good mother who has sought to do the best for her family. However, the unstable income from seasonal work meant that she and her husband could never earn enough money to ensure a good life for themselves and their children. There seemed to be no easy path to escape from this poverty trap.

A turning point in her life arrived in 2017 when she joined the Vinh Tan Hamlet Microfinance Group (Vang Quoi Dong commune, Binh Dai district) which is supported by MCNV’s micro-finance project in Ben Tre Province.

A turning point arrived in 2017 when Thao got access to her first loan from the Vinh Tan Hamlet Microfinance Group.

An initial 5,000,000VND loan from this project enabled her to rear pigs to provide a more stable source of income. The initial success of this loan inspired Thao to encourage seven other women to participate in the project. They acquired further small loans to invest in livestock rearing and to build containers to ensure the supply of water during periods of severe drought.

In addition to rearing pigs and cows, this group of women also purchased sewing machines to provide additional income from garment production. This garment processing activity has been vital during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it has enabled the women to work safely from home whilst still earning an income.  

Thao (first, left) and two members in her group.

Thao is the leader of this group, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, she has managed to connect the group with a garment company to ensure they have continued to earn an income. Thao has also helped the group to comply with COVID-19 regulations to protect themselves and their communities.  Thao’s microcredit group have now saved enough money to purchase several new sewing machines.  Her dedication and success, together with MCNV’s support, has enabled the women in her group to earn decent incomes that are resilient to shocks such as COVID-19 and drought. This success has provided a pathway out of poverty and greater prosperity for themselves and their loved ones./.

  • The Micro Credit and Saving project in Binh Dai district was launched by MCNV and sponsors in 2009.
  • In 2020, the project has been expanded to 11 communes and townships, including Binh Dai township, thanks to the funding of Microcredit for Mothers (MfM) foundation.
  • The project has been expanded to 11 communes and townships, providing financial services and facilitate socio-economic inclusion for over 5,000 disadvantaged and poor women, supporting household economy development, response to saltwater intrusion and new rural development.
  • Nowadays, the project has become financially self-sustained, and is being conducted with the permission of the State Bank of Vietnam, Ben Tre provincial branch.
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Project on Realization of land use rights for ethnic minority people with disabilities concluded with encouraging results

Participants at the workshop

After nearly two years of implementation, the project “Realization of land use rights for ethnic minority people with disabilities in Dakrong and Huong Hoa districts” funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands has helped underprivileged people make a step closer to self-reliance and social inclusion.

With a total value of EUR 100,000, the project was jointly implemented by the Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV), Quang Tri provincial Committee of Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) and the province’s Association of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and Agent Orange Victims, Sponsorship for PWDs and Child Right Protection (DPO).

The project was concluded with a closing workshop held on May 4 th, 2021, in Dong Ha city, Quang Tri province, providing the stakeholders with insights of the project outcomes, challenges during the implementation process and post-project action plan.

The workshop brought together delegates of Quang Tri CEMA, Quang Tri DPO, Quang Tri Department of Natural Resources and Environment and representatives of 13 commune beneficiaries of 2 districts Dakrong and Huong Hoa.
Conducted in the format of a hybrid meeting, the workshop welcomed the virtual participation of Mr. Peeters Robbie, the Second Secretary of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Vietnam and Mr.Pham Dung, Country Director of MCNV Vietnam.

In nearly two years of implementation, the project has supported the leveling of residential land, agricultural production land and granting land use right certificates to ethnic minority households with PWDs in Dakrong and Huong Hoa district, facilitating independent livings and social inclusion.

Despite the setbacks of Covid-19 and the historic floods sweeping through Quang Tri in October-November 2020, the project has achieved significant results, with 112 ethnic minority households with PWDs received support to level residential land (13,558 m2) and agricultural land (84,080 m2). Meanwhile, 18 households was supported in the granting of land use rights certificates.
These supports have vastly contributed to PwD’s property ownership verification and lay a better foundation for their agricultural production.

Mr. Ho Van Che (Huc Nghi commune, Dakrong district) a beneficiary of the project “Realization of land use rights for ethnic minority people with disabilities in Dakrong and Huong Hoa districts”. Photo: Phan Tan Lam

As part of the project, a database consisting the information on the status of residential and agricultural production land of over 22,000 PwDs households was created, aiming to assist Quang Tri province in approaching the government’s related policies. The model is the first one of its kind that has ever been applied in Vietnam.
Moreover, the project provided PwDs with better access to policies on land use rights and related policies, services and procedures via training workshop, communication on awareness raising and capacity building for Quang Tri DPO.

Via these activities, the project contributed to accelerate the realization of the Resolution No. 10/2018/NQ-HĐND themed “Policy on supporting residential land and funding for granting certificates of land use rights, production land for poor ethnic minority households and poor households in the communes of region III and extremely difficult villages in the period 2019-2022”.
Despite the project has been concluded, the models piloted in the project are expected to contribute to realizing the National Target Program 2021-2030 on socio-economic development of ethnic minorities-inhabited areas, including two projects on land and resilient settlement.

Mr.Peeters Robbie speaks at the workshop.

Talking about the outcomes of the project, Mr. Peeters Robbie, the Second Secretary of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Vietnam, stated: “What has been achieved is something we can all be proud of”, considering the hurdles of Covid-19 and the floods hitting the region in October and November 2020. On the occasion, he highlighted the spirit of equality and equity in the longstanding cooperation between the Netherlands and Quang Tri province which is “still very much alive today.”

“For this project, we figuratively and quite literally are leveling the playing field”, he said, emphasizing the belief that everyone should have a fair opportunity to develop a living for themselves.

To conclude his speech, Mr. Robbie commended all the project partners on their hard work and results obtained and expressed his wish for field visit in the near future.

Speaking at the workshop, Head of Quang Tri province’s CEMA, Mr.Le Van Quyen highly appreciated the results of the project:

“The project has practically helped meet the need for residential and production land of PwDs, via the close cooperation between authorities of various sectors, including ethnic minorities affairs, natural resources and environment, land registration and non governmental organization,” he said.

The Head of Quang Tri CEMA also suggested a longer period of implementation of project related to land use rights, in order to create more profound impacts.

In the workshop, delegates also gave recommendations on how to improve access to land use rights for PwDs, suggesting Quang Tri DOP to take proactive step in mobilizing and diversifying sponsorships, including those from enterprises and the enhancement of communication and awareness raising activities on land use rights policy./.

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Early Detection – Early Intervention and Inclusive Education project in Cao Bang close

In the past 18 years, the project Early Detection – Early Intervention (ED-EI) and Inclusive Education project implemented by MCNV in Cao Bang province has practically benefited the locality in various aspects.

A classroom of the Support Center in Cao Bang.

The project is part of the Disability program kick started in April 2002 by MCNV in Cao Bang province, aiming to achieve three goals: (1) Capacity building for officials and teachers in ED-EI and education for Children with Disabilities (CwDs), (2) Enhancing the capacity of participatory authorities, especially the provincial Support Center for the development of Inclusive Education, equipping the Center with sufficient resources and expertises to adequately provide qualified services to CwDs in the province; (3) Fostering the capacity of systems that support and implement ED-EI for CwDs.

In order to achieve these goals, the establishment and development of the Support Center is regarded as the key component of the project.

After 18 years, the project was concluded in late 2020 and has already been handed over to Cao Bang provincial Department of Education and Training. In the project closing workshop held in late March 2021, Head of Cao Bang provincial Department of Education and Training, Mr.Vu Van Duong and Prof.Dr. Le Van Tac, independent specialist who was in charge of the project final term evaluation, shared impressive figures and facts.

Breaktime on the Support Center’s yard.

According to the report, the Project has largely contributed to the vast increase of the percentage of CwDs attendance to school (from nearly 30% in 2002 to 89.1% in 2020). Currently, in Cao Bang province, 372 education institutions (among 503 preschools, primary schools, secondary schools,) are admitting CwDs.

Since the establishment of the Center, a total number of 560 CwDs have been admitted to the Center to be provided with necessary interventions, rehabilitation services and training on preschool skills, of which 453 students (80%) have been admitted to common schools. Meanwhile, 560 respective parents have been provided with consultancy services, helping them improve understanding of their children’s conditions, capabilities and manage to take better care of their children. 

As part of the project, thousands of screening, evaluation and training sessions were conducted, benefiting school officers, teachers and parents of CwDs across the province.

Infographic: The project outcomes

According to the report, in over the past 18 years, the project has created significant impacts on the development of the special education system, including accelerating the enforcement of Laws on Persons with Disabilities in Cao Bang, a mountainous province with distinctive cultural and social patterns , and predominant population of ethnic minorities.

Particularly, the establishment and stable operation of the Support Center has contributed to increasing equitable opportunities for CwDs in ED, EI and inclusive education.

In terms of policy, the project has produced and disseminated evidence-based results and examples to lay a essential foundation for relevant authorities to enact Laws on Persons with Disabilities. Thanks to the project, evidence-based research results and case studies have been generated and widely disseminated, laying solid foundation for the enactment of the Laws on Persons with Disabilities and policies at national and provincial level.

A teacher teaches students in the Support Center.

In addition to directly benefiting CwDs, their parents and teachers, the project benefited other stakeholders in terms of personal development via providing learning opportunities in reporting, human resources, project management, etc.

The model is evaluated as highly feasible in disadvantaged mountainous provinces. Cao Bang province experiences are suitable to be applied to other provinces, especially in mountainous regions.

*Stakeholders’ Testimonials:

We highly appreciate the long-term commitment, professional and enthusiastic support of MCNV for the education sector of Cao Bang in early detection-early intervention and special education. MCNV has played the most important role in making the Disability program successful here. 18 years of support by MCNV is a long journey. It’s hard to have such a long-standing and close relationship like that.  (Leader of Cao Bang provincial Department of Education and Training)

“MCNV works in a professional manner with great expertise, which made every supporting activities efficient and suit the needs of the locality and the beneficiaries.(Officer of Cao Bang provincial Department of Education and Training)

“The percentage of CwDs attending school has been on the rise while the number of dropout decreases. The coordination between school and family is getting more effective, which is considered an outcome of the project.”   (Management of local common school admitting CwDs)

“With the aforementioned outcomes, MCNV realizes that it is the time to hand over the project to Cao Bang Department of Education and Training. The Department is now ready to take charge of the next phase to make the best out of the past achievements, helping CwDs better integrate into the community and ensuring the implementation of their rights”.   (MCNV representative)  

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