By Davis Wamawungo, Vietnam Portfolio Advisor
The Luc Yen project is located in a mountainous, rural area of northern Vietnam that is home to around 100,000 people, including many from ethnic minorities. Before the project started Luc Yen had a number of challenges, so the project is specifically focusing on issues of health, education, and trying to improve livelihoods of communities in that area.
Let me tell you a bit about how we engage the communities. We first discuss the challenges that they have. There was an incident whereby a small bridge was washed away, and that cut off access from the small village to other villages. The project manager discussed with the communities to see how we could help them rebuild. They agreed that World Vision could provide bags of cement, while the communities would contribute towards labour, stones and sand, and manage the whole project, with the supervision of World Vision.
So it was the whole process that got the community involved, and based on that there were so many outcomes that were unintended but very welcome. Why I say they were ‘unintended’ is because the initial thinking was ‘this is only a bridge’ but there were other unintended outcomes that impacted on our program.
I’ll give you some examples. When the bridge was washed away, children of school age were not able to access the school across the bridge. So when the bridge was completed, kids went to school and attendance levels were up. So directly you may think it’s just a bridge but education outcomes were improved.
Also, pregnant mothers were unable to access health centres and were missing antenatal check-ups. Now there’s the bridge, it means that if a mother wants to give birth it will not be a problem because she can access the health care centre. So a simple bridge like that, that is only two metres wide, now means that mothers’ lives are saved, and unborn children are saved. It’s a huge impact.