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Jan 14, 2023 / 06:13

Australia continues supporting development in Northwest Vietnam

Northwest Vietnam is benefiting from a project worth US$24 million to mainly develop community-based economic models.

Australia’s Ambassador to Vietnam Andrew Goledzinowski has led a delegation to visit projects in Lao Cai, Yen Bai and Phu Tho that are benefitting from Australian support.

 Ambassador Andrew meets with Mr Dang Xuan Phong, Party Secretary of Lao Cai province. Photo: Embassy of Australia in Hanoi

The visit on January 11-13 shows that Australia remains committed to supporting socio-economic development in Northwest Vietnam.

In the meeting with leaders in Lao Cai and Yen Bai, the discussions confirmed that the northwest region remains a focus in the broader Australia-Vietnam bilateral partnership.

Australian support is growing from an initial focus on clean water and agriculture to now include transport infrastructure, women’s economic empowerment, tourism development and private sector development to better the lives of men and women, including ethnic minority communities, in the region.

Ambassador Andrew said he’s pleased to witness Australia’s support contributing to this growing relationship and Vietnam’s socio-economic development. “The Australia-Vietnam relationship is deeper and broader across all sectors, from education, agriculture, innovation, climate change, clean energy transition, trade to sustainable and inclusive growth and people-to-people links,” he noted.

During the visit, Ambassador Andrew met local authorities, the private sector, and community-based businesses, including those run by ethnic minority women to understand how Australia’s support is helping to strengthen tourism and agriculture opportunities for the communities.

 Ambassador Andrew visits the construction site of the Northern Mountain transport connectivity project in Van Yen district of Yen Bai province.

Effective models

The first of these was Hung Hien noodle cooperative in Bat Xat district, where he learned about how the noodles travel through the value chain, from the individual women producers to the cooperative and onto private sector buyers. He then joined a community-based tourism cooperative for lunch in Y Ty to talk about community cooperation, destination management planning, and plans for an upcoming ADB-funded circuit road, which will make it easier for visitors to access the district.

On January 12, the delegation visited Yen Thanh Company and discussed with the director how stronger private sector and farmers linkages can increase the exportation of northwest-processed bamboo shoots to meet the increasing needs of regional and international markets. They also took the opportunity to check in at a local health station, which was a recipient of Covid-19 vaccine refrigerators supplied by the Australian Government.

The last day concluded with a visit to a construction site of the Northern Mountain Provinces Transport Connectivity Project under the Aus4Transport program in Yen Bai province. Ambassador Andrew met with and discussed the project and its positive impacts on businesses and local communities with local cinnamon farmers, production companies, and members of the public.

Aus4Transport Program is funded by the Australian Government for transport infrastructure development activities in Vietnam.

The delegation also visited Viet Tri Water Treatment Plant run by Phu Tho Water Company which is one of Vietnam’s first fully privatized water utilities. The ongoing strong partnership and knowledge exchange between Phu Tho Water Company and an Australian water company (Coliban) contribute to improved water quality and water services. Australia supports private sector empowerment and Australia-Vietnam business linkages for sustainable water delivery. 

  Ambassador Andrew gets a lesson from the Hung Hien Cooperative in making vermicelli.

Helpful program

These are examples of support from Australia’s Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism (GREAT) program totaling A$33.7 million (US$24 million) is part of Australia’s efforts to assist the socio-economic development in the region, which is home to many ethnic minority women.

GREAT works with businesses, NGOs and government partners to build more inclusive business and market systems within the agriculture and tourism sectors in Son La and Lao Cai Provinces. It seeks to ensure that local women and ethnic minorities actively participate in and benefit from economic activities and growth.

Lo Minh Hung, Deputy Secretary of Son La’s Party Committee said they highly appreciate the support of the Australian Government along with the Vietnamese Government’s investment in initiatives on poverty reduction, gender equality improvement, and socio-economic development in beneficiary areas and the province as a whole.

Launched in 2017, GREAT is aimed to empower local women to engage in agriculture and tourism markets and enhance women’s voices in economic decision-making. The program targets to assist some 40,000 self-employed women to boost their incomes and create approximately 4,000 jobs for women to drive economic growth in the provinces.

It’s also expected to increase the number of women leading and managing businesses or cooperatives by 15%.