Vietnam is a rapidly growing economy and with industrialisation comes the need for increased resources such as electricity. To cope with this demand Vietnam has built many dams on its rivers. These dams have had a significant impact on the environment and on the lives of those people who were dependent on the river for their livelihood.
Many people and communities have been forcibly moved due to the construction of dams. These people were poor but had sustainable lives along the river, growing their own food and fishing in the river. They were moved to areas where they had insufficient land to grow their own food and provide for their families, no access to employment and often no access to water.
CSRD has been working with groups of these relocated communities, affected by the building of the Binh Dien Dam, the Huong Dien Dam, the Ta Trach Dam and the A Luoi Dam. A large proportion of the affected people were from the ethnic minorities of the Co Tu, Bru Van Kieu and Kinh (Viet) people.
The task was to work using Evidence Based Advocacy (EBA), helping the people understand their rights and to be able to negotiate solutions. There are laws requiring environmental and social impact assessments and the dam-building companies are required to monitor impacts and address issues. However, this legislation was not adequately policed by the authorities, non-compliance with legislation was not followed up and the dam owners have not addressed issues they have caused. On top of this the affected people were poorly educated and were not aware of the legislation that could protect them or their rights.
One of the first tasks that CSRD did was to hold workshops to ensure the affected communities were aware of the legislation. They then trained the people in methodologies and skills to undertake their own Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The evidence collected was recorded and ratified by scientists and independent consultants. CSRD then mediated contact and dialogue with the relevant government departments and dam owners to address the issues.
There have been some positive results:
1. The affected groups have formed a network and have been instrumental in working with groups in newly planned dam areas to ensure the affected people know their rights and the possible negative outcomes if they are forcibly moved away from their current homes.
2. There has been signification media coverage so that the general public in Vietnam is now aware of the issues and the negative impacts of the dams on the Vietnamese environment.
3. Some additional land has been made available to some of the affected communities:
– 96 hectares has been given to re-settled people in Huong Thien Commune. This was given to individual households for the production of crops.
– A further 83 hectares has been allocated to groups in three villages: Hoa Binh, Binh Dien and Hoa Thanh in Binh Thanh commune.
– 87 hectares of land was allocated to the people of Bo Hon village in the Binh Thanh commune.
4. Technical assistance and training is provided to the communities to help them manage this new land allocation, for instance through training in how to grow acacia trees, bamboo, and bee keeping. These new skills will provide the communities with new ways to generate an income.
At the conclusion of the project work for the year, a workshop was held to discuss the issues around Payment for Forest Environmental Services (PFES). The group distribution of land for the community is in forests in water catchment areas and the plan is for the community to become stewards for protection of these forest areas. They can currently can harvest some of the forest trees for their own income but the amount they are allowed to harvest is contentious and is still under discussion. The community also qualifies for payment from the PFES. The government has collected this fee/levy from the dam owners but the fine detail of how the money will actually be paid to the community is the subject of on-going work.
Donor: ICCO Foundation (ICCO)
Project Date: 2013 – 2016
Location: Communities displaced by Binh Dien Dam, Huong Dien Dam, Ta Trach Dam and A Luoi Dam