Ireland-backed Initiative Improves Lives of Vulnerable Individuals

An Ireland-funded initiative is paving the way for cooperation among various organizations to make a difference in marginalized communities in three provinces of Quang Tri, Hoa Binh, and Ha Giang.

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The Ha Giang People’s Committee and Plan International Vietnam (Plan), CARE International in Vietnam (CARE), and the Center for Research on Initiatives of Community Development (RIC) on November 28 launched Phase II of the ‘Reaching The Furthest Behind’ program in Ha Giang city, Ha Giang province.

In phase II, the program will expand to 15 communes in six districts of Hoa Binh, Ha Giang, and Quang Tri provinces.

Reaching The Furthest Behind
Phase II of the ‘Reaching The Furthest Behind’ program was officially launched. Photo: Plan

The inception phase of the program implemented in Quang Tri and Hoa Binh provinces from June 2022 to August 2023 has been positively evaluated. The program has directly supported nearly 10,000 people in disadvantaged communities, including people with disabilities and children in preschools, elementary schools, and middle schools. Nearly 40,000 other people have indirectly benefited from the program.

According to Truong Chi Hieu, deputy head of the Ethnic Affairs Committee of Quang Tri province, the ‘Reaching The Furthest Behind’ program has brought about practical impacts and supported the sustainable development of ethnic minority communities in Quang Tri. The program has contributed to changing people’s mindset and living conditions, towards gender equality, and ensuring schools become safer from natural disasters and climate change.

A direct program beneficiary, Ho Thi Xo, head of the Banana Cooperative Group in Ta Rut commune, Quang Tri province, said that the program has helped them better understand the market requirements and potential customers of the group’s products through market visits and direct discussions with traders. They feel more confident in implementing their business plan.

Meanwhile, Luong Thi Loan, from Kia village, Yen Hoa commune, Da Bac district, Hoa Binh province emphasized that the program has helped members of the community communication team create creative forms of communication that attract the participation of villagers, promoting discussions about gender equality in her village.

Reaching The Furthest Behind
The program brings positive changes to disadvantaged communities. Photo: Plan

Phase II with sponsorship from the Irish Embassy in Vietnam is expected to be implemented from September 2023 to August 2028.

The program aims to improve the quality of life of vulnerable ethnic minorities in six communes of Dakrong and Huong Hoa districts of Quang Tri province; four communes of Da Bac and Lac Son districts, Hoa Binh province and five communes of Xin Man and Vi Xuyen districts, Ha Giang province.

It will apply community-centered approaches to promote the agency of women in the process of socio-economic development and promote the implementation of policies to support the socio-economic development of ethnic minority groups and mountainous areas.

Speaking at the conference, Seán Farrell, deputy head of mission, at the Irish Embassy in Vietnam, highlighted that this is one of Ireland’s most important programs in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. The program contributes to the implementation of Vietnam’s national targeted programs for mountainous areas and ethnic minority communities.

Presenting at the event, Hoang Gia Long, standing vice chairman of Ha Giang Provincial People’s Committee said: Reaching The Furthest Behind program would help Ha Giang province implement the National Target Program for Socio-Economic Development of Ethnic Minority and Mountainous Areas, contributing to supporting communities and vulnerable groups to easily access to basic services, economic development models to become more independent in life, and improve their position in family, community, and society.

With support from the Irish government and people, Plan, Care, and RIC have joined forces, accompanying local authorities and people to successfully implement the inception phase of the program, said Le Quynh Lan, Acting Country Director of Plan International Vietnam.

The Embassy has committed to funding the program over the next five years, to bring about sustainable changes to disadvantaged communities and mountainous areas, she added.

Reaching The Furthest Behind
The program’s Phase I directly supported nearly 10,000 people in disadvantaged communities, including people with disabilities and children in preschools, elementary schools, and middle schools. Photo: Plan

Also at the program launching ceremony, Le Van Hai, director of RIC Center, pointed out that the program will be implemented with a community-centered approach. Communities propose initiatives, establish plans, and manage the construction and maintenance of micro-infrastructures. With this approach, communities will have increased capacity and ownership to implement local development initiatives to improve their living conditions.

In addition to direct intervention at the grassroots level, networking, and experience sharing will be facilitated with partner agencies at the national level.

Le Kim Dung, country director of CARE in Vietnam affirmed, “The Reaching The Furthest Behind program aims to promote policy implementation and strengthen cooperation with central agencies. We wish to contribute to support the effective implementation of the National Target Program for Socio-Economic Development of Ethnic Minority and Mountainous Areas, along with other programs, building capacity and facilitating conditions for disadvantaged communities to respond and adapt to external changes as well as climate change and improve their living conditions.”

Hannah Nguyen