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Huong Hoa bamboo handicraft: Ready to take off

Representatives of three bamboo handicrafts groups recently took part in a tourism promotion cooperation workshop held in Dong Ha city, Quang Tri province.

The event was held by Quang Tri province’s Investment, Trade and Tourism Promotion Agency (IPA) on June 29th, bringing together 100 delegates from local authorities, governing agencies and a number of interested enterprises in and outside Quang Tri.

Two representatives of three ethnic-minority production groups from Chenh Venh village (Huong Phung commune), Ta Puong village (Huong Viet commune), and Cu Bai (Huong Lap commune), Huong Hoa district were invited to the event with their delicate handicrafts made from Vietnam’s symbolic plant: bamboo.

Deep in the jungle of Huong Hoa where lived the skillful workers of Van Kieu ethnic minorities, bamboo was turned into beautiful and useful items: travel utensils, drinking straws, candle holders. These products were brought closer to potential customers thanks to the workshop.

This was also a great stride of Huong Hoa bamboo production groups since young female members could confidently take part in a networking event, where they could reach out to visitors who came from different business sectors. They took the chance to brief potential customers on the production process and at the same time, listening to their feedback to learn more about the market preference and demand. As the conversation went, more opportunities were unveiled.

From raw bamboo to exquisite products, from the forest to the market, it is a long journey. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, and Huong Hoa bamboo handicrafts have made an impressive first step to success.

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MCNV joins EU in promoting sustainable forest management in climate change response

First Counsellor, EU Delegation to Vietnam, Mr.Tom Corrie, speaks at the event

The launching workshop of the project ‘Promoting sustainable partnership between CSOs and enterprises for sustainable forest management in the context of climate change’ (PROSPER) was jointly organized by the Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV) and Quang Tri Smallholder Forest Certification Group (SFCG) on June 26th, 2020 in Dong Ha city, Quang Tri province.

The event brought together representatives of the Delegation of European Union in Vietnam, the People’s Aid Coordinating Committee (the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations), the provincial People’s Committee, the Department of Foreign Affairs, MCNV, enterprises in forestry sector and representatives of benefited communes.

PROSPER project is co-funded by the European Union (EU) and MCNV with total value of 800,000 Euro (period: February 15th 2020 – February 15th 2023), aiming to promote sustainable partnership between CSOs and enterprises for sustainable forest management in the context of climate change.
The workshop served as an information-sharing platform for the authorities, governing agencies, enterprises and forest owners. As part of the workshop, stakeholders will participate in a discussion to give suggestion for more effective implementation of the project.

Speaking at the event, Mr Tom Corrie, First Counsellor, EU Delegation to Vietnam said:

‘I’m pleased to be here today at the launching workshop of PROSPER project. The timing is good as the EVFTA has been ratified by both EU and Vietnam, and our Agreement on better timber/forest management entered into force just over a year ago. This project brings together many of EU’s interests here in Vietnam, on environment, trade, and sustainable development all within one single project. Implemented in Quang Tri, initiatives promoted under the project will be highly relevant for the wider context of Vietnam – a country among the most vulnerable nations to climate change and at high risk of deforestation’.

In Vietnam, sustainable forest management (SFM) and forest certification (FSC®) are two among five areas of the global and national Action Plan of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+).

Sustainable management of natural resources in the context of climate change requires good governance and commitment of local communities to engaging in environmentally responsible plans for land and forest use.

Quang Tri has been a pioneering province in engaging smallholders in SFM and FSC®. In 2014, the Quang Tri Smallholder Forest Certification Group (SFCG) Association became the first smallholders in Vietnam that was recognized as a legal entity and certified for FSC®.

Based on what have been achieved, PROSPER will be implemented through Quang Tri SFCG Association with the focus on building capacity on SFM and promoting supply chains of non-timber forest products and plantation timber for target groups of households and cooperative forest owners who join FSC®-certified acacia plantation as well as community and household forest owners of natural forest.

The project will assist 60 sub-associations of around 3,000 farmers who are household, cooperative and community forest owners. In the next 3 years, the project will help 1,500 hectares of plantation forests achieve FSC® status and SFM will be applied on 600 hectares of natural forests.

MCNV Country Director Mr. Pham Dung speaks at the event

According to Mr.Pham Dung, MCNV Country Director, Quang Tri is MCNV’s key beneficiary locality, where the organization started its supports for Vietnam in 1968. For the past 15 years, MCNV has diversified its fields of support for Vietnam by implementing projects in livelihood, response to climate change, etc.

“We look forward to seeing the fruit of PROSPER, which will improve the prosperity of the people – smallholders, partner enterprises, maintaining the greenery of Quang Tri and contribute to the province’s sustainable development”, he said.

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Consultant recruitment for final project evaluation

Medical Committee Netherlands – Vietnam (MCNV) is a Dutch NGO that has provided support to health systems, community-based health care and community development programs towards improvement of quality of life for people in Vietnam since 1968. The Disability Program is one of the main programs of MCNV in Viet Nam at the time being. 

MCNV implemented the project Early Detection (ED) – Early Intervention (EI) – Inclusive Education (IE) for children with disabilities in Cao Bang from 2002 to 2019. Before handing the project over to the local counterparts by the end of 2020, MCNV and the counterparts in Cao Bang have also agreed to carry out an end-of-project evaluation MCNV is seeking for a consultant to carry out this evaluation. 

Application for the mission must include: 

  • 01 CV (English and VNamese);
  • A letter of interest.

Application is sent to: thuy.nguyenthanh@mcnv.vn

Deadline for application: 20/6/2020.

For more information, please refer to the ToR attached and contact via phone number: 0986607351 or 0243 8359005 (ext 25). 

ToR file: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1RYJxb-MdC8O8lmTYJBRXnMNP1t6KJup8/view?usp=sharing

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Unveil the potential of nature

Recently, the Medical Committee Netherlands – Vietnam (MCNV) has provided supports for a number of households in Chenh Venh village (Huong Phung commune), Cu Bai village (Huong Lap commune) and Ta Puong village (Huong Viet commune) to produce made-from-bamboo products to supply for domestic and overseas markets.

This is one of the initiatives to encourage consumers to switch from using plastic to environment-friendly products, and at the same time, creating the opportunities for livelihood improvement for people of Van Kieu and Pa Co ethnic minorities in Quang Tri province.

The products being produced in these localities are as diverse as straws, pen case, travel utensils case, candle holders, with materials sourcing from local forests.

Local worker makes bamboo candle holder using machine provided by MCNV. Photo: Nguyen Thanh Tung

According to MCNV, 10 households in Chenh Venh village are making bamboo straws. In 2019, they produced around 50,000 straws, sold at the price of VND 1,000- 3,000/per unit, generating the revenue of VND 100 million (equal to VND 10 million/household).

Len Xanh is one of the various types of bamboo found in the mountainous district of Huong Hoa. Growing wildly on ravine, nearby high waterfalls, Len Xanh can only be harvested when it is mature enough. Normally, one tree can provide 5-8 stalks/year, each stalk comprises of 7 to 10 nodes, each node is from 20 to 25 cm long.

After being harvested, the stalks are cut to a length of 18-23 cm, before 5-6 hours of disinfection by boiling, and later wiping away residual impurities.
In the next 7 to 8 days, the straws are dried under the sun. The final step is shaping the straw by sanding down the edges.

Ms.Ho Thi Xang standing by a pot boiling bamboo straws.
Photo: Phan Tân Lâm

According to Ms. Ho Thi Xang, member of a production group in Chenh Venh village, her family is expecting to increase their income by bamboo straw making.

They used to earn their living by working in the forests on their own or hired by others as seasonal workers. Despite their hard work, Xang and her husband still struggled to make end meets. Since their kids were born and needed round-the-clock care, Xang had to stay home. All of the livelihood burden was hence put on her husband’s shoulder, pushing the family deeper into poverty.

Ms.Ho Thi Xang (right) and Ho Thi Ly, two of the ten members of the bamboo production group in Chenh Venh hamlet, Huong Phung commune. Photo: Nguyen Thanh Tung

“Making bamboo straws requires high level of patience and meticulousness. In order to come up with qualified products that meet the standard of hygiene, size and appearance, you have to follow closely every step. Nevertheless, as long as you put enough efforts in the work, you’ll quickly get used to it and be able to earn stable income every month”, Xang said with excitement.

Bamboo straw making not only opens a new path of livelihood for local residents, but also benefits the community in another way as it takes the men away from alcoholic addiction. They are now busier with the work of harvesting the materials from the forests.

According to Mr. Ho Van Noi, a resident in Chenh Venh village, the men can make use of their time of working in the forest to harvest len xanh, and craft bamboo straws during their idle time. It is estimated that in each household two people are taking part in the production of bamboo straws. However, due to the scarcity of len xanh in the nature and the danger of the harvesting process, people are facing challenge in ensuring sufficient materials for production.

The community is therefore looking forward to receiving more supports from the authorities and functional agencies to expand the plantation of len xanh, in order to meet with production demand.

At the same time, MCNV is supporting 3 production groups in three villages to diversify their products and materials and build drying houses, and providing machinery and technical training for core members.

Their products now range from pen case, candle holders, travel utensil case. The making of these handicraft demands much dedication, however it pays off, as these products capture the attention of customers, especially overseas tourists.

At the moment, Hoi An Roastery, a company owning eleven cafes located in the tourism city of Hoi An, Quang Nam province is the distributor of these products. In the future MCNV will help the production groups to increase connection with domestic and international markets. Together with production, they are also paying attention to developing plantation zone of material, especially len xanh on nearby hills.

Vocation training in Huong Viet commune (Photo: Lê Minh Vũ)

Currently, 20 households in Huong Phung, Huong Viet and Huong Lap village are taking part in bamboo handicraft work. This is a practical vocation to increase income while contribute to the development of environmentally-friendly production market.

Bamboo straws in the hands of daughter of a production group member in Chenh Venh hamlet, Huong Phung commune. Photo: Phan Tan Lam

“In the time to come, we will help expand the material plantation, diversify the products, improving crafting skills, product quality and widen the market network”, says an MCNV project coordinator.

With dedication and hard work, more and more bamboo are turned into delicate products, while the farmers are becoming skillful artisans, and getting closer to a bright future.

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Dreaming of a life without hunger

The nutritional programs in Phu Yen and Savannakhet in a nutshell

We help villagers grow nutrient-rich crops on a plot of land next to their home. We teach mothers how to prepare the new vegetables. The little ones every day receive a nutritious meal at school or playground and we advise on clean drinking water and hygiene. There is also extra guidance for pregnant women and newborn children. We ask your support to eradicate hunger in these villages for good, our dream! With € 25,000 we can continue this year in both countries with small but structural improvement of the livelihoods of the villagers.

Thank you for your (extra) donation!

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Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam contributes to COVID-19 fight in Quang Tri

(VNT) – The Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV) presented assistance totaling VND 13 million (USD 558) to the central province of Quang Tri to help them effectively fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several MCNV’s projects are being carried out in Huong Hoa district (Quang Tri), adjacent to the Vietnam – Laos border. Due to heavy traffic across the border lines, the locality is at high risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Strengthening border security is one of the key measures adopted by local authorities in order to eliminate this risk.

Recently, a donation of VND 12 million (USD 515) was handed to two border guard posts in Huong Hoa district. The cash was spent on necessity supplies for the teams such as vitamin C effervescent drink, dried food, drinking water and instant coffee.

At the same time, responding to the call for supports of Quang Tri province, MCNV Central Vietnam office donated VND 1 million (USD 43) to the province via the provincial Department of Foreign Affairs.

Founded on November 18, 1968 by a team of dedicated Dutch doctors, MCNV aimed to deliver the aid from Netherland to Vietnam, to support the country’s resistant war through the sponsorship of medical supplies, hospital building, tuberculosis, malaria prevention, etc.

MCNV has diversified its fields of operation, together joining hands with Vietnam in developing the country’s economy with various projects in improving the livelihood of people in poor regions, gender equality, rehabilitation for the handicapped, reproductive health education, among others.

In 2018, MCNV marked its memorable 50th birthday with the fourth time receiving the Friendship Order of the State President to acknowledge the organization’s contribution to Vietnam in the last five decades./.

(Hannah Nguyen – The Vietnam Times)

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✈️🧳Important information on rapid reduction of flights from Vietnam

The Embassy in Hanoi and Consulate General in HCMC of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on March 20th announce:

The Embassy in Hanoi and Consulate General in HCMC of the Kingdom of the Netherlands advice all Dutch tourists and other non-essential visitors in Vietnam to leave Vietnam as quickly as possible. 

The number of commercial flights to travel from or via Vietnam to the Netherlands is increasingly rapidly declining.

As of next week, the number of commercial flights from Vietnam will be very minimal or not available at all. When you are in Vietnam now or in transit, you are advised to access the information channels (website, hotlines of desks at airports) of your airline or travel company as soon as possible, so you can leave as quickly as possible.

ATMs still work in Vietnam. You can also transfer money via WesternUnion.

We would be grateful if you could spread the word to others who might not be up to date yet.

We advise all Dutch people who are still in Vietnam to register themselves, so we can reach all Dutch people in case of emergency https://informatieservice.nederlandwereldwijd.nl/

The travel advice can be found in the Travel app (in Dutch: Reisapp van Buitenlandse Zaken) or here: https://www.nederlandwereldwijd.nl/…/viet…/reizen/reisadvies

Questions? Call +31 247 247 247 or send an email to han@minbuza.nl

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Guidance on stopping the spread of COVID-19

Vietnam’s latest guidance on stopping the spread of COVID-19 is now available in English.

Issued by the Ministry of Health of Vietnam on March 19, the series gives detailed instruction on self-isolation, centralized-isolation and preventative measures.

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Vietnam suspends visas for foreign travellers starting March 18

In light of coronavirus spread concerns, Vietnam will temporarily suspend visa issuance for foreigners entering the country for a period of 30 days starting Wednesday (March 18).

More information:

https://vietnamnews.vn/society/653733/viet-nam-suspends-visas-for-foreign-travellers-starting-wednesday.html

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Donor tour 2020 cancelled

Unfortunately, this week we had to decide to cancel the donor tour in April.

It is very unfortunate and sad for all who were so much looking forward to this trip. Donors, as well as the MCNV colleagues in Vietnam and Lao PDR, were so enthusiastic about receiving the group and showing them around.

An analysis (see here) prepared by Pham Dung (MCNV Director Vietnam), and previous discussions about the current situation in Vietnam and in the Netherlands, have led to the decision that MCNV does not want (and cannot) take any risks and can’t bear responsibility for carrying out this trip under these circumstances.
This is the responsibility for (the health of) the participants and tour management as well as for MCNV employees and other people in Vietnam and Lao involved in the organization of the journey.

In the coming period and of course with a caveat to Corona developments, we will look at possible travel dates later in the year. Of course we’ll keep all the fun ideas – as planned for this trip – until another time in 2020!

Tom Fluitsma (tour guide) and Karin Vlug
For additional information: karin@mcnv.nl

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