Cooperation between Vietnam Women’s Union and Dutch NGOs in Aquaculture

Supporting women engaged in aquaculture has drawn increasing attention of the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU), particularly over the recent years. To bring about greater effects in this area, VWU has contantly been improving its activities, trying to mobilize and optimize resources, especially the cooperation and support from international organizations, including Dutch NGOs.

During the period from 1995 to date, in the area of supporting women engaged in aquaculture, VWU received the support from the NGOs namely ProFound, a Dutch small-scale NGO that provides consultative services, Bilance (later merged with several other NGOs to form Cordaid) and Cordaid presently. Cordaid is an NGO founded towards the end of 1999 following the merger of three development organizations: Memisa, Caritas Netherlands and Bilance. Cordaid fights agains poverty in over forty countries thoughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe and the Netherlands. Every year, Cordaid spends around 150 million euro coming from the Dutch Government, the European Union and 450,000 private donors in the Netherlands o­n projects in developing countries.


From October, 1995 to June, 1996, VWU and Dutch development NGO “Profound” implemented a pilot project ‘Training of Trainers to promotewomen’s small-scale aquaculture enterprises in rural areas of Northern Vietnam. The Women in Development Desk of DG I of the European Commission funded this initiative. This pilot project with a budget of nearly USD 20,000 provided TOT for 20 WU’s staff at all levels. Then downstream training courses have been conducted o­n management of small-scale aquaculture enterprises in VAC system for poor rural women in 2 provinces of Vinh Phuc and Nam Ha.


In 1997, contacts were established with 'Bilance', a Dutch NGO for further financial support to continue the training and o­n-farm research activities initiated in the pilot phase. Bilance approved to fund two follow-up training projects that were implemented from September 1998 to January 1999 and from November 1999 – February 2000 with a total budget of approximately USD 15,000.


As a result of implementing 3 above-mentioned training projects, 360 rural women in Vinh Phuc and Nam Ha provinces receiced 15-day training in their communities o­n VAC aquaculture, small business management, enviromental protection and gender; Besides, 4 training teams of 20 local WU’s staff trained in the pilot project gained more experience as field trainers applying training and o­n-farm research methodologies;


Building further o­n the experience and achievements gained from implementing the 3 mentioned projects, VWU wishes to replicate training model for rural women engaged in aquaculture. For that purpose, VWU submitted to CORDAID project proposal “Strengthening aquaculture training capacity of the Vietnam Women’s Union” which has been approved by CORDAID with the budget of USD 49,900. The project has been being implemented for 2 years (2002-2003) with the overall objective to improve the living conditions of poor rural households and status of poor rural women involved in small-scale VAC Aquaculture in the rural areas of Northern Vietnam through increased production and income and gender awareness. The project components include: Strengthening project management capacity of VWU staff; Strengthening the training capacity of the existing training teams of the preceding project; Conducting field training for rural women engaged in aquaculture in 8 communes (4 communes from preceding project and 4 new communes) in the 2 provinces of Nam Dinh and Vinh Phuc; Establishing and developing an aquaculture information exchange network through the VAC clubs' activities.


So far in the project framework, a 15-day training workshop o­n project management has been conducted for the staff of WU of different levels engaged in the project mangement, 20-day refresher TOT has been organized for reinforcing and improving knowledge & skills for the 20 local trainers and field training o­n aquaculture and other earlier mentioned contents has been conducted for 240 rural women engaged in aqualculture in some communes of Nam Dinh and Vinh Phuc provinces. In addition, the project has also several initial support for VAC clubs newly established during the project life, thus creating a good opportunity for rural women to exchange and share information and their experience in aquaculture and for incorporating other activities of VWU as well.


The copperation with the abcve-mentioned Dutch NGOs has assisted VWU to strengthen its own capacity, particulary in project management, training in aquaculture, thus bringing about practical benefits for women in aquaculture realizing the objectives of the projects. Thanks to apropriate division of labor within the household, rural women did apply knowledge and skills gained from training in their aquacultural activities which helps women to improve their business, increase income for their households, creating employment for their family members and others in the community. Besides, thanks to proper management oftheir own time fund, women could find out the leisure time for themselves: watching TV, reading books, newspaper to improve their knowledge.


It is noteworthy that the above-mentioned cooperative project between VWU and international NGOs have created premises for the Union to bring into play its strength and mobilize resources and professional expertise from local partners in the project (e.g the Research Institute for Aquaculture No 1) to support women in aquaculture more effectively.