Muong women act for biodiversity conservation and better lives through organic farming

Description of the project: CECAD empowers over 300 ethnic Muong women of the Hoa Binh province in Northern Vietnam to switch to organic agriculture and improve their climate resilience. Trainings focus on identifying and protecting native plant species, reducing chemical inputs and setting up a Participatory Guarantee System (PGS-certification) via an organic farmer support group, in order to ensure customer trust. Start-up Clubs were set up to train 30 women on entrepreneurship skills and build up small organic food businesses with a web portal to access new retail and markets. Muong women worked with local authorities on local policy development, raising their democratic rights. In total 10,000 people in 20 communities benefit from improved rights, resilience and livelihoods.

Climate impact: Shifting to organic farming practices has greatly reduced GHG emissions and pesticide use (4,800 liters since 2013). This reduced the pollution of underground water and soil as well as living organisms in the environment. Protecting these ecosystems contribute to increased climate resilience for land and people. Organic and traditional farming practices have been an important part of agriculture in Vietnam for centuries. Rehabilitating ancestral knowledge combined with agricultural innovation with worldwide recognition (PGS) is appropriate, especially for isolated ethnic minorities who have to rely on local adapted means.

Gender impact: Participatory needs assessment and adapted training programmes have increased the agency of over 300 Muong women. The Start-up Clubs enabled them to create and lead their own entreprises, using modern internet technologies to reach out to more customers. Working with Women’s Union and local authorities, they are actively contributing to local decision making processes. This has promoted their status at home and in their communities, improving their democratic and socio-economic rights.

Scalability / replicability: CECAD has worked to establish a quality assurance system for organic products applying participatory monitoring throughout the value chain and involving farmers, customers and local authorities. While national policies on gender equality and sustainable agriculture support scalability throughout the province and other regions, local expertise and resources are also required. By involving women farmers, along with Women’s Union and District People’s Committees as major stakeholders, the project demonstrates decentralized, feasible and sustainable practices.

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Organik Farm: empowering women for a sustainable, climate resilient food production

Description of the project: Organik Farm (created in Dalat, Vietnam, in 2007) is a perfect example of women’s empowerment through sustainable, climate resilient farming and food distribution. Organik processes “bio” certified vegetables and fruits from mountainous lands. Vegetables are grown according to GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) and organic standards. The produce is distributed through their Ho-Chi-Minh City shop; online shop; diverse retail channels; also exporting to Cambodia and Thailand. The Farm employs women at all levels: farming, sales, accounting, purchasing and management. It offers a specific pricing policy for schools and hospitals, ensuring organic diet for children and the sick.

Climate impact: The Farm strengthens the ecosystems, ensuring presence of beneficial insects, greater below-ground diversity, nutrient cycling, disease suppression, nitrogen fixation. Its performance is good in energy consumption, soil conservation, water-use efficiency, water purity, increasing soil health (crop rotations, green manures, composting), proving that a farm can manage resources sustainably and climate friendly.

Gender impact: Vietnamese girls and women continue to suffer gender-based violence and gender inequalities. Organik Farm has 55 employees, of which 44 women: 8/17 farmers, 20/21 processing staff, 12/14 managers, and 2/3 shop assistants. Employees climb the work ladder very fast. Organik trains women on organic, GAP; hygiene food safety; free range; non-GMO; crop rotation; seedlings; natural pest control; animal husbandry. They also build capacity on decision-making for sales, purchases and coordination of market schedules.

Scalability / replicability: Organik Farm has already scaled up sales via an online platform. Its economic model aims to create new direct distribution channels and convince consumers to buy organic for a healthier diet and a sustainable impact on livelihoods of farmers and communities. The project has its own R&D center focused on the agronomic specificity of this mountainous area in North Vietnam. It promotes the local ethnic community’s knowledge and enables replication in similar areas.

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Confronting disaster response in lagoon regions through women empowerment at community level

Description of the project: Affected by Confucian ideology, patriarchy remained dominant in Vietnam. It has been not only limiting to the development and social equality of women but also prevents them from taking part in disaster response and climate change adaptation even though they belong to the most vulnerable group. They are not considered eligible and often described passively as support recipients during disasters even though their experience and contributions are as valuable as men’s. Therefore, from 2014 –2015, Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) worked with 5700 women in 2 lagoon communes in central Vietnam to promote their voices and to include them in village rapid response teams as active contributors.

Climate Impact: The vulnerability of women has been increased in the context of climate change. They have found it extremely difficult to adapt and maintain life for themselves and for their families and their children. Through the project, 60 local women were added to the 12 village rapid response teams which previously only involved men. Furthermore, their participation is now recognized by local authorities as officially equal to men. It is encouraging to local women who can from now on have the same opportunity to go the trainings for capacity building in preparedness planning, first aid, communication, environmental protection, and adaptive livelihoods. Additionally, they have experienced trainings to enable them to reduce their vulnerability, to help the community be more responsive to disaster and to strengthen their community resilience.

Gender Impact: With women’s participation in the rapid response team, the perception of women by the men and by the community is positively changed. Women themselves feel more confident in speaking out in public and in participating not only in disaster response and climate change adaptation but also in many other activities in the community. Women are now highly appreciated by their families and society. They are mentioned as skillful and patient campaigners in disaster response and as creative and hardworking in climate change adaptation. Thanks to this, local men are now more aware of sharing housework with women than before. Women’s voice and position as well as decision making powers in the family and community are thus strengthened and leveraged.

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Ethnic Minority Women’s Empowerment

Description of the project: This project aims at empowering remote ethnic minority women to actively participate in local socio-economic development planning and decision-making. To achieve this objective, the project focuses on four components: 1) women’s voice in local development plan; 2) climate resilient livelihood; 3) strengthening women’s groups; 4) fighting gender-based violence. The project targets 4,500 women and 3,000 men of Thai, Tay, Dzao and Hmong people in remote northern mountain area. Nearly 90% of women were aware of climate change and its implication on their community and 43% of target women increased their income.

Climate Impact: The project has worked with indigenous communities to conduct climate vulnerability and capacity assessments, as well as research on climate resilient livelihood models. For the first time in their life local people reflected on climate change and its impact. A system of sustainable rice intensification (SRI) was applied. People saved 40% of their seedlings, reduced fertilizers use up to 40%, and 30% water. CO2 emissions from SRI practice can fall by 70%. This model helps farmers adapt better to drought and disaster by reducing water usage and shortening the cultivation period.

Gender Impact: The project established a social protection net for local women via a saving and loan association. This is a platform for women to talk, share, start saving and gain easy access to loans. It improves women’s confidence and solidarity. The SRI technical trainings were introduced for men and women. The latter could for the first time build their capacity on technical knowledge and agriculture, usually male dominated. As a result, women improved their income by $70 per acre of rice.

Scalability / replicability: CARE collaborates with Women’s Union – a national organization present in every village of Vietnam. This ensures for replicability across the country. Only minimal investment is needed for SRI. CARE provides technical assistance to partners. Women’s Union has already replicated this model in other sites: a Dzao village has also replicated SRI model without any support

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