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EU supports VN’s poorest villages

The new EU grant will benefit farmers like these in the commune of Chi Thao, Cao Bang Province

The European Union committed 17 million euros (US$20.4 million) and the Vietnamese Government 1.59 million euros for the development of poor areas in the northern Viet Nam.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Cao Duc Phat and Ambassador and head of the European Commission Delegation in Viet Nam Markus Cornaro, signed the Financing Agreement during a ceremony in Ha Noi yesterday.

"This five-year initiative will improve the living conditions of families in four of the poorest and remotest areas of Cao Bang and Bac Can Provinces," said Markus Comaro.

"To ensure increased capacity and sustainability support will be delivered directly through local Vietnamese Government structures and systems. We are convinced that in this way EC support will have long-term benefits in terms of poverty reduction."

The selected mountainous districts of Pak Nam, Ba Be, Bao Lac and Bao Lam are some of the country’s least developed regions. Ninety per cent of the population belong to ethnic minority groups, most of them living in extreme poverty with so little perspective on development.

The initiative will enable local people to upgrade their skill base, and therefore revenue earning capacity, across a range of fields, such as crop and animal husbandry, marketing of agricultural products, and small business development. Construction of basic infrastructure, especially in remote areas, will complement these activities.

Special attention will be given to empowering the most disadvantaged, such as poor women. They will receive special support to apply for financial support and to develop their own businesses. Environmental activities will, for example, restore forest cover in critical watersheds, regulate water flow to avoid erosion and contain crop production, providing the region with a model for sustainable development.

The new EC-supported initiative follows on from the Cao Bang Bac Can Rural Development project which ended in December and supported agricultural extension activities as well as the construction of rural roads, water supply systems, irrigation schemes and schools.

Project activities are expected to start in November this year and will run until 2010.

VNS - (11/04/2005)

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