Back in Canada

I know this post may seem a bit late, but I wanted to take some time to reflect myself before I shared my thoughts and reflections with the worldwide web. From past experiences, coming back to Canada is always the hardest part about leaving because you struggle with who you are versus who you were, you struggle with your next steps, how to integrate what you’ve learned and how you’ve changed into your life, you struggle with falling back into how you used to be or how you want to be. It’s a major learning experience and it takes some time and reflection each time to decide how you want to decipher it.

This time, I felt as though there was more preparation and the university set up some debriefing sessions to help us determine how to answer those questions. In addition, we aren’t coming back into a former life, we’re coming back to the completion of our degrees and the beginning of something completely new – whether its work, more school, travel, or no plans – so there aren’t old patterns to fall back into.

Personally, there were some elements of placement that I really struggled with, however despite these struggles, I would never trade the experience for anything. I learned a lot about myself while in Hanoi, I developed a completely different sense of independence than I could have in Canada, I challenged myself, and I realized that there are no limitations to what I can do or accomplish.

My time in Hanoi gave me the self-confidence to stand out from the crowd, to be myself regardless of what is happening around me, to stick to my goals, and to shoot for the stars. Prior to living overseas, I never would have imagined that I would be good enough for grad school, that I could get a scholarship, or that I deserved to be noticed in that way. But it really pushed me to work outside of my comfort zone and to recognize my own strengths.

Placement also brought me a lot closer to some of my classmates; there are people that I spent time with in Hanoi that I will be close with for the rest of my life. I’ve made friends that understand me more than anyone I’ve known previously and who are unconditionally supportive. The heart and strength that I’ve seen in my classmates astounds me and I know that they will accomplish anything they set out to do. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to experience placement with such a wonderful and supportive group of people, and I feel even more fortunate to have such incredible people in my life.

Participating in an international experience is about more than school, it teaches you things that you can’t learn about in class or in books. There’s a value to travelling and living overseas that you can’t get from anything else. No other experience encourages you to test your boundaries, nothing else will ever ensure that you learn about yourself and the world in such a genuine manner, and there is nothing equal to it. Regardless of whether you are studying international development or anything else, go outside and learn about the world, go experience it. It will challenge you and it will expand your horizons more than anything else ever could.

How can civil society contribute to policy?

Check out a website article I just wrote for the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) to see one idea!

The good stuff

I know I usually only share the bad stuff that happens in my daily adventures (because it’s usually funnier), but there are many incredible, wonderful, great things and people that I come across every day as well.

Firstly is the man who sits at the end of my alley. I would guess him to be in his late 50s and he is always hanging out at the end of the alley way, sitting at a table with his friends either eating or playing cards. When I walk by in the mornings he goes out of his way to say hello and share what English words he knows (usually ‘Thank you’ or ‘I love you’). When he thinks the weather will be either cold or rainy that day and doesn’t think I’m appropriately dressed he rushes me back down the alley to make sure I have a jacket or a sweater. In the evenings when it’s dark, he watches and waits for me to make sure I get into my house safely. When I have friends or family over, he always asks who they are if he doesn’t recognize them. He just truly goes out of his way each and every day and it ensures that I start each day with a smile thinking of how kind he is.

Second is the woman on bus #32. I met her last month and I think that she thinks that I just moved to Hanoi and don’t know my way around but every day she has waited to make sure I get on the bus and, as she gets off at the same stop, she also chit chats with me and is just really friendly. She’s been openly curious about me and has shared information about her life. It’s great to have a friend on a long, crowded bus ride and since I’ve met her I haven’t been groped by any strange men – coincidence? I think not.

Third are the xe om drivers (motorcycle taxi) near my street. As I cross the perilous, crowded, traffic disaster that is Kim Ma Street, they watch me, waiting to see if I need help. When I get across the street they usually smile and applaud – it makes something like crossing the street feel remarkably accomplished. The drivers on the other side of the street always wish me a good day and a good bus ride.

There are many more people and things that just make this placement absolutely incredible, but these three people/groups of people are the ones that I encounter every single day who bring a bit of happiness into the day (especially when its pouring rain like today).

Tet (or New Years take 2)

Tet is the New Year in Vietnam (which you can read about here, here, or here); its a lunar new year and is the only solid week off that we get as interns here!

Myself and 5 friends decided to go to Bangkok and Bali for the week (meaning we slept in the Bangkok airport and experienced major taxi-induced anger, then relaxed and enjoyed the wonderfulness that is Bali). Read about how exciting it was to prepare from Daniel’s perspective here. If you want the details of the trip you can check out my friend, classmate, and travel partner’s blog where Christian explains the trip much more eloquently than I ever could. If you want more information on one of the trip highlights – climbing Mt. Batur (active volcano) you can check out my friend, classmate, and travel partner’s blog out (I’m actually going with her to Cambodia next week), where Madiha explains why it was such an incredible experience.

As they have covered the details so well, I thought I’d just share some photos.

Bangkok

Bangkok

Bangkok (gold everywhere)

Bangkok (gold everywhere)

Bangkok

Bangkok

Bankok (Reclining Buddha)

Bangkok (Reclining Buddha)

Bangkok (Democracy Monument)

Bangkok (Democracy Monument)

Bali (Sunrise on the beach)

Bali (Sunrise on the beach)

Bali (Sunset on the beach - see a theme here?)

Bali (Sunset on the beach – see a theme here?)

Bali (Sunrise from the peak of Mt. Batur)

Bali (Sunrise from the peak of Mt. Batur)

Bali (WE DID IT)

Bali (WE DID IT)

Bali (The descent - Can you spot my friends?)

Bali (The descent – Can you spot my friends?)

Bali (Still descending. . )

Bali (Still descending. . )

Bali (Mt. Batur - Yes, we actually climbed that in the middle of the night with a flashlight)

Bali (Mt. Batur – Yes, we actually climbed that in the middle of the night with a flashlight)

Bali (Ubud - explored after climbing a volcano)

Bali (Ubud – explored after climbing a volcano)

On Entitlement and Respect

I’ve experienced a fair share of battles here regarding how men treat women, and today was no different.

While on the bus, the bus attendant announced to someone that he thought I was beautiful; someone disagreed and said I was ugly. This was followed by a fair amount of debate while pointed at various parts of my body and garnering a small attentive crowd. I turned around and announced that I understand Vietnamese and was met with silence.

People felt as though they had the right, ability, and freedom to openly discuss what they did and did not like about my body, while pointing to the body parts in question and when it became obvious that I knew and understood what was going on there wasn’t even an apology. Then on the rest of my trek home I had several men try to get me to sit and eat with them; what is it a joke or game to try to get the girl to sit down and eat or drink with you? Do people really expect that someone they have never met or spoken with is really going to want to sit down right at that moment to enjoy a meal with a stranger? I sure wouldn’t. But when I say no I’m met with someone who is shocked and offended that I don’t want to sit down with a strange man and eat whatever he offers just because he asked.

Just because I’m female does not mean I’m your property. Just because I’m different than you does not mean you have the right to discuss or debate my body. Just because you ask me to do something does not mean I have to say yes. I am human, I am not your property, I do not exist as a source of entertainment for you, and I deserve the same level of respect you want to receive.

American or British?

The English language has far too many differences in each region. If you utilize American English then your organization or center works extremely hard and put in lots of labor to run programs. But if you utilise British English then your organisation or centre works extremely hard and puts in lots of labour to run programmes. What does that mean for a development organization?

If you live and work in a country where English is not the first language then you don’t have an official national English dictionary, and therefore either of those options could be correct. But what would be incorrect would be to mix American and non-American English in the same document or sentence. This may seem boring but to an NGO working with partners and donors around the world it is remarkably important.

Development organizations are constantly stuck in this middle-ground, with no ‘official’ English in the country of operation they must constantly switch between different regional versions of English and this means tailoring each document to the donor or audience. This is hard enough to do if English is your first language, but even harder if its your second or third.

As much of my job involves editing and reviewing documents I get to spend a lot of time up close and personal with the oddities of the English language and this has made me more aware of how to properly tailor your writing to your audience. If your donor is British do not write a document full of the letter z or words ending in or. If your donor is American use the letter z all you want, don’t end words in our. This stuff matters a lot. Using the wrong language or the wrong grammar will make sentences and documents look ‘wrong’ to a reader and can very well be the different between FUNDED or BROKE.

Merry Christmas to All

Venturing Vietnam

Merry Christmas to everyone around the world, no matter what day it is right now, what you are eating, who you are with, or how you are celebrating. Though many of us had a very different Christmas than usual this year, it was filled with touches of Canadian familiarity, lots of friendly faces, and three awesome helpings of Mr. Bean.

Just to provide a bit of a visual, here is what “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” meant for us in Vietnam:

On Christmas Eve, it was so cold in the office that I could only type for five minutes at a time. I took breaks to sit on my hands.

There was a very skinny man dressed as Santa standing outside a store on my street (that sells who knows what) giving out free stuff to kids (and who knows what the free stuff was.) He was…

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What I find most challenging

I’m a pretty vocal person, I’m used to speaking my mind, I’m used to discussing policy and somewhat challenging topics, and I’m used to having the freedom to do so. I’m one of those people who if you say ‘You can’t do that!’ I want to do whatever it might be even more.

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International Human Rights Day 2012

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a seminar in Hanoi for International Human Rights Day and I must say it was interesting. I will not be posting very much about it for now, but in the meantime here are some select quotes and upcoming events that I thought were interesting as they apply to citizens of Vietnam, Canada, and the world. This was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate human rights achievements in Canada, Vietnam and the world from 1948 to the present.

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A Tale of Two Villages

Follow-up on a previous post

Chieng Khoang and Chieng Chung are located less than a kilometer apart within a 20 minute walk of Tuan Giao Town in Tuan Giao District, Dien Bien Province yet these two villages each have a unique story. But before I get into that, I’ll begin with a little bit of history from the area.

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What is governance?

I was at a workshop this morning that made me question my perspective. Participants kept discussing what governance was and asking what this word means, where did it come from, how is it different from management, etc. and it made me question what I knew about governance.

Growing up in Canada and always being interested in international development and human rights in general, I had never really questioned what governance was, I just accepted it. Governance was this word that was inherently good; it was this important thing to achieve. Now I find myself questioning what it means and whether using ideals like governance is positive or negative.

This meeting discussed the history of governance, how it emerged as a Western Ideology roughly 300 years ago, and how organizations like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund popularized it in the mid 1990s. It discussed that because of this, governance may not be suitable for countries like Vietnam, or other eastern nations that do not share Western roots or ideology. Does this mean governance is bad?

The participants had no real understanding of the ‘governance’ I grew up understanding, instead many people simply believe that governance is equal to management and is a top down approach, which is understandable as it was popularized by some of the largest international organizations. They believe governance to be a method of enforcement rather than a method of participation and a tool to increase donor funds.

This is a huge failure on the part of international development; governance is intended to involve everyone, to ask questions, to look at the needs of the most vulnerable, and to give every citizen a voice. It is not in the scope of governance to impose beliefs, ideologies, or methods on others, governance is supposed to let people come to their own conclusions and made independent decisions on their actions while taking into account the effects it will have on others. It goes against the very nature of governance to ‘enforce’ governance.

Anyway, this meeting made me curious and made me question a lot of what I grew up accepting, I hope it encourages you to think critically about some of the theories and ideologies you know of.

I will be doing more research on this whole governance dilemma and will get back to you but in the mean time share your perspectives on these questions: What is governance? What is good governance?

Sustainable Forest Governance

As you know (or should by now) I’m currently working in Vietnam at the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development, or SRD and am placed in Ha Noi.

What I didn’t know coming into this placement was that I’d be working primarily with forestry related things: forest governance, forest management, land-use law, land allocation problems, forest trade, forest licensing, forest monitoring, civil society’s participation in forest policy drafting, etc. However now that I’m here I’m finding that my role is involving lots of policy drafting, capacity building, and networking about forests.

In my first week at SRD, I attended a workshop on Capacity Building for Civil Society Organizations on FLEGT/VPA and REDD+. Its quite a mouthful. FLEGT is Forest, Law, Governance, and Trade and is legislation drafted by the EU for countries that they trade in timber with. VPA is the Voluntary Partnership Agreement which is a bilateral trade agreement between a country and the EU (in this case, Vietnam). REDD+ is one of the products of the Cancun Climate Change talks and stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. All of this can be coordinated to work together, but as the Vietnamese government is in the midst of developing all the policies, the local and international NGOs are working on trying to get input from civil society and figuring out the best way to do this.

If you are curious and want to know more, you can check out the condensed version of the report that I wrote here.

International Development Student Blogger

International Development students tend to be overachievers, we like to learn, we have lots of questions, and we enjoy the details. When I was preparing for placement, I would read the blogs of the students who were currently on placement to try to learn more. Now that the program has been established longer this is also used as a way for potential students (high school students) to learn about the program and see how they feel.

If you are interested in studying international development, working in international development, travelling, or are just plain curious you can check out my blog for the Faculty of Environment here. I post frequently :)

What does it mean to be a woman?

Being a woman can often seem like every action and expectation is contradictory, regardless of where you live. You’re expected to be street smart, but vulnerable. You will be stereotyped as either helpless or stubborn. People will ask you questions, then smile, and look to whatever man you’re with for validation that your response was correct. Yet at the same time, women are supposed to be strong and independent. But not so independent that you don’t want to get married and settle down – preferably while you’re still young enough to have children.

Being a woman means that because of these stereotypes and expectations, simple actions can be shocking, surprising, and have unintended effects. It means that despite ‘equality’ you will still have to work harder to prove yourself as capable. Once you’re seen as capable, you may lose any association as a woman or feminine, because apparently capability and femininity cannot be synonymous.

Being a woman means having immeasurable strength and ability. It means moving past stereotypes and expectations and embracing yourself despite them. It means not letting the weight of the world bear down on your shoulders. It means growing to your full potential regardless of stereotypes and expectations.

It means defying society.

Entitlement and one bad xe om experience

Today I experienced something a little bit startling; it caught me off guard; it made me angry.

On my usual bus ride/walk to work I experience anywhere from 5-10 offers to use a ‘xe om’ or ‘motorcyle taxi’ and have perfected the response: smile, shake my head, say ‘khong’ or ‘no’, and wave my hands in the ‘enough’ motion. Today, in the last portion of my walk – and usually the portion with the least xe om offers – a man said xe om and gestured in the general direction of a motorbike. I responded in my usual manner and continued to walk by.

However it did not stop there. As I passed him – and stopped paying attention to what he was doing – he grabbed my arm, swinging me back and proceeded to try to drag me to his motorbike. Apparently saying ‘no’ politely did not suffice. After a few shouts that caught the attention of people around me (and there were many as it was rush hour) he let go and said a few things in Vietnamese to his friends that garnered a laugh.

Some people feel as though they are entitled to take or do what they want even if it requires the use of force, some people feel entitled to coerce others into following their will, often without guilt.

All I could think of was how frequently these things happen in pretty much every country around the world. Saying no is not enough, people are left with no choice but to fight for autonomy, independence, and rights – all of which should be guaranteed and in many cases are already granted through the law. Do not take your rights for granted, do not allow legislative changes or self-entitlement to take away your rights, do not become self-entitled and do anything to compromise the rights of others. Be respectful.

Liver…

I need to learn how to say ‘I don’t like liver” as I have been fed liver twice today from two different animals with no way to get out of it. Harder eating something you don’t like when people are watching you and waiting for you to say how delicious it is.

Just another day at work. . .

Watching UN delegates learn and then dance the chicken dance. In slow motion and fast forward. . .

One week to go

With only one week left before I leave for Vietnam it seems only fitting that my plans would change. I am no longer going to Hue, instead I will be in Ha Noi. I’ll still be working for the same organization, but my job description has changed and I’m in a completely different city than I’ve spent the past 6 months researching and looking forward to. Did I mention I’m already packed for Hue?

Here is my job description be sure to comment and give me any tips or pointers as I have no experience in this field.

  • Assist with the development of project concept notes and proposals that support SRD Climate Change section’s short and long‑term strategy.
  • Assist with writing and editing website and newsletter articles which related to Climate Change forest management and environment fields.
  • Assist with writing and editing reports on Climate Change program/ projects.
  • Support ongoing Climate Change mainstreaming activities within SRD’s program.
  • Support the development, management and implementation of SRD’s Climate Change projects, including undertaking needs/vulnerability assessments, conducting baseline surveys etc as required.
  • Participate in other related activities of the organization and engage/liaise with partners on SRD’s behalf through climate change and FLEGT networks (as assigned).
  • Assist with organizing logistic and reporting of Climate Change department led workshops.

Visa Hiccup

There has been a hold-up in getting my visa for Vietnam. I’m one of three people who will hopefully receive their visa authorization five business days prior to our flight date. This means that while I’m leaving Timmins around the 26th, I will have to find a way to still apply for and get my visa from elsewhere in Ontario.

The problem with this is that the standard way to get a visa to Vietnam is to send in your application by mail, then once it arrives at the embassy (in Ottawa) it stays there for five business days, then is mailed back. So it’s looking like a road trip is in order, as well as the additional costs to expedite the process.

What is probably most frustrating with this experience is that I was not really included in the process at all. So I don’t know the work that went into it to get the visa authorization, I don’t know the process, I don’t know how hard (or not hard) people have worked to try to get this to happen. I just know that it hasn’t happened, may not happen, and its now the last minute. This isn’t for lack of trying, I have asked many times to have the process explained, or to be included, or for an update at the very least. I feel as though had I been included I wouldn’t be frustrated with this because I would actually be aware of what work had been done in order for things to happen on time.

If something happens and the authorization does not come in time, I will have to apply for a tourist visa (also in Ottawa, also at the last minute), then renew the visa every ninety days in Vietnam. Technically, the renewal can be denied.

Hopefully the authorization comes sooner and things are easier, and hopefully this is the only hiccup that will occur from now on. If the biggest problem I have is that I have to rush to get my visa in time, then the next eight months will be remarkably smooth.

Hue Update

As I’ve been getting a little heavy with the social issues posts, I thought I’d share a little something I found amusing about Hue City, Vietnam. As this is where I’ll be living from September 2012 – April 2013, I try to find and follow any news about it and I came across this.

A bull was recently spotted running around near the runway of the Hue airport. No one knew where the bull came from or who it belonged to; this was the first time a bull was spotted in the area.

It resulted in the airport’s closure for the day, however the situation is now under control.

 

How do the real local champions tolerate us?

“How do the real local champions tolerate us, international ‘experts’ who rotate in and out of their countries and keep showing up – different faces, same stupid questions – like a bad penny? What do we mean when we talk about supporting local actors? And are we really ready to relinquish control, face our shortcomings and humbly listen?”

Marianne Elliott

Solution for Food Insecurity?

As I get closer and closer to my field placement in Vietnam, I’ve been doing more research and trying to find as much information on the Center for Sustainable Rural Development as possible. And I came across this site that discusses one of the projects that was implemented by SRD. I chose to use a lot of its information for a paper for one of my classes. So read on, and share your opinion. Is the System of Rice Intensification a potential solution for food insecurity?

Food Security in Vietnam

Food security is a global problem that plagues nations in the Global South and the Global North, it can be achieved when ‘all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life,’ as defined by the World Bank (Potter, Binns, Elliot, & Smith, 2008, p. 211). Achieving food security is a difficult task for many nations that may not have long enough growing seasons, may be affected by natural disasters or unseasonable weather, that are faced with balancing imports and exports, with unequal land ownership rights, and that may be affected by rising costs of production and food sales – all these factors can cause a larger ripple effect and can either make food unaffordable, or unavailable, thereby decreasing food security. Understanding food security goes beyond simple food production; it is about the availability and affordability of adequate food to each person regardless of their income or status. This concept has been best described by Amartya Sen, “Starvation is the characteristic of some people not having enough food to eat. It is not the characteristic of there being not enough food to eat” (Potter, Binns, Elliot, & Smith, 2008, p. 211). Yet, food security is inherently linked to development as when people are food secure they are better able to increase productivity, perform better in school, and live longer, healthier lives.

Economic reform

Vietnam is a nation that has been affected by numerous factors changing national food security, but is also in a unique position to effectively combat national food insecurity through interventions done by the government, non-governmental organization, and grassroots organizations. Through national economic reform and the intensification of crops, Vietnam has been able to decrease food insecurity and drastically increase production. Currently, sixty-two percent of Vietnam’s population relies on agriculture (subsistence and otherwise) for their livelihoods, yet eleven percent of the population remains undernourished and twenty-five percent of children are malnourished (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2011). These are staggering statistics for a country that produces and exports some of the highest rice yields in the world and therefore has the capacity and resources to provide adequate food for its population. Since 1986, Vietnam has been under the ‘doi moi’ policy, or ‘renovation’ policy, which has been revamping their economic policies and structures for global competition and to aid in the economic and human development of the nation (Painter, 2003). This policy has been adapted and changed as the global economy has changed and has determined the patterns of imports and exports, which plays into how Vietnam has been adapting to the 2008 economic crisis and working towards improving food security for its population. Renovation policy has shifted Vietnam into a market-based economy that is becoming more and more diversified and stable.

Globally, 2008 was a critical year for food insecurity, causing widespread raises in food costs, declining employment rates, and damaging global economies – Vietnam was not immune. The 2008 economic crisis hit Vietnam at a critical time, damaging the economy that was previously growing at an unprecedented nine percent (Das & Shrestha, 2009, p. 1). During this time in Vietnam, inflation soared past twenty-five percent and food prices doubled (Das & Shrestha, 2009, p. 2)making food unaffordable and unavailable to much of Vietnam’s population. In response, the government decreased food exports and brought additional resources to state-owned agricultural businesses and community agricultural initiatives, this intervention allowed for the influx of resources in a key sector, ensured employment for the population, and ensured a surplus of food, which would drive prices down in turn (Das & Shrestha, 2009, p. 7). The government has also been focusing on increasing the rates of population attaining education which they believe will increase future production and decrease future food insecurity and poverty.

System of Rice Intensification

An intervention by non-governmental organizations and grassroots organizations has also aided in the battle against food insecurity – crop intensification. This intervention is often described as the System of Rice Intensification also Sustainable Rise Intensification or SRI and involves using ‘younger seedlings, single plant transplantation, wider spacing of plants, water drainage, and frequent weeding” (SRI in Vietnam, 2008)this process was developed to increase crop yields while decreasing crop inputs such as water, seeds, fertilizer, and pesticides/herbicides (SRI in Vietnam, 2008). In developing and rolling out SRI, organizations are also met with the challenges of providing additional inputs to rural farmers and small communities for initial input. These methods involve changing communities historical ways of thinking and farming and have a heavy reliance on education and continued workshops and follow-up. However, with consistent use they have been proven to increase annual incomes by seventy USD per farmer and cut hands-on time spent farming by fifty percent (srivietnam, 2010).

What is key about SRI is that crops are more resilient, rely on less resources, and are of a higher quality than crops grown in traditional methods, by adopting to a more sustainable practice farmers can decrease the costs associated with farming while simultaneously increasing their yields and profit (srivietnam, 2010). Grassroots organizations and non-governmental organizations are key as they often have the resources and community connections required to provide education and reach rural populations who would benefit the most from SRI. These are also the organizations that can receive and utilize international funds and support in the most effective and efficient ways. SRI is one of the most effective methods for combatting food insecurity in Vietnam as rice production accounts for eighty-seven percent of cultivated land in the country, by intensifying and making this process more sustainable yields can be dramatically increased (Trang Thi Huy Nhat, 2010, p. 43).

Areas of future concern

What is particularly challenging in Vietnam is the system of land ownership – current law dictates the government owns all agricultural land, allowing citizens and communities land use rights for twenty-year periods (vietnamsri, 2009). This law makes it extremely difficult to justify private investment in agricultural land, the investment of additional time and personal resources, and holds no guarantee of future subsistence or economic gain for farmers. Without land ownership reform, this could have negative consequences on food security and poverty in the years to come as many rural populations could removed from the land they call home and rely on to live (vietnamsri, 2009). With policy reformation, ideally there could be law reforms made to protect rural populations and populations reliant on agriculture in the years to come. This law would not only benefit the rural farming population, but would also benefit the entire nation as this would allow populations and communities to continue to farm the same land year after year, benefitting from their investments and learning. This could increase production and increase food security for the entire country. This would also allow for private ownership of land, allowing communities and smaller organizations to pool their efforts and develop larger scale production methods.

As a coastal nation, Vietnam is also challenged by seasonal natural disasters which run the risk of flooding agricultural regions (particularly in the central regions), and salt-water infusion of agricultural regions. Vietnam has been working towards improving their early warning systems and predicting the timing and intensity of natural disasters, however much work remains to be completed (Trang Thi Huy Nhat, 2010, p. 49). With adequate research, natural disasters can be predicted and better mitigated in the future, however with climate change these do present an area of risk in addition to coastal flooding.

Conclusions

As stated earlier, Vietnam is in a unique position with regards to food security, the nation has the ability and resources to more than meet the food needs of its population and can be used as an example for many other nations. The economic policies implemented by the government also provide an excellent example of successful economic adjustment programs as completed by the nation they affect. The innovations and use of SRI also show that often the most sustainable and productive agricultural programs require innovation and may move beyond traditional methods. SRI also demonstrates that expensive fertilizers and genetically modified seeds are not required for resilient, healthy crops. If Vietnam is able to curb food insecurity and develop additional sustainable agricultural practices to be implemented alongside SRI, they could also drastically reduce the percentage of the population living in poverty. Vietnam remains on track to more than halve the percentage of their population living on less than one USD per day and with additional inputs and resources towards food security this goal could be surpassed. In aiding a nation in becoming food secure, Vietnam’s population would in turn be more productive, and better able to meet the future needs of the growing economy. Additionally, if Vietnam were able to become food secure, it would also be able to increase its exports aiding other nations in meeting their food needs.

Bibliography

Das, S. B., & Shrestha, O. L. (2009). Vietnam: Further Challenges in 2009. ASEAN Economic Bulletin , 26 (1), 1-10.

FAO Global Information and Early Warning Service. (2009). Crop Prospects and Food Situation. Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture, Rome.

Food and Agriculture Organization. (2011, August). Viet Nam. Retrieved May 12, 2012, from Countries: http://www.fao.org/countries/55528/en/vnm/

IFPRI. (2012, May). Vietnam. Retrieved May 12, 2012, from Food Security Portal: http://www.foodsecurityportal.org/vietnam

Painter, M. (2003). The Politics of Economic Restructuring in Vietnam: The Case of State-owned Enterprise “Reform”. Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs , 25 (1), 20-43.

Potter, R., Binns, T., Elliot, J., & Smith, D. (2008). Geographies of Development: An Introduction to Development Studies (Third Edition ed.). Pearson: Prentice Hall.

SRI in Vietnam. (2008). SRI in Vietnam. Retrieved May 10, 2012, from What is SRI?: http://vietnamsri.wordpress.com/about/

SRI-RICE. (2012). System of Rice Intensification. (S. I. Center, Producer) Retrieved May 12, 2012, from http://sri.ciifad.cornell.edu/

srivietnam. (2010, November 5). A Simple Way to Grow More Rice in a Changing Climate. Retrieved May 10, 2012, from SRI in Vietnam: http://vietnamsri.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/a-simple-way-to-grow-more-rice-in-a-changing-climate/

Trang Thi Huy Nhat. (2010). Tackling Household Food Insecurity: The Experience of Vietnam. Asian Journal of Agriculture and Development , 5 (2), 41-56.

vietnamsri. (2009, April 17). Land Accumulation: Opportunity or Threat for Small Farmers in Vietnam? Retrieved May 12, 2012, from SRI in Vietnam: http://vietnamsri.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/land-accumulation-opportunity-or-threat-for-small-farmers-in-vietnam/

SRI in Vietnam

Photo credit: Tormod Sandtorv/Creative Commons

This guest post was written by Le Ngoc Thach, president of the Dai Nghia cooperative and one of the first SRI farmers in Ha Noi province, courtesy of Oxfam America.

Watching my parents’ rice crop fail was a heartbreak I will never forget. It was 1984, and that growing season, stem borer grubs devoured our plants and destroyed our harvest. One little bug meant a lost year of rice for our family and community.

Our community in Dai Nghia, Vietnam, like countless others around the world relies on the work of small farmers like my parents to grow rice and other crops that help us feed our children and support our families’ livelihoods. For farmers like me, the tragedies of a lost harvest are a growing threat as climate change makes the search for scarce resources like water and fertile land increasingly dire…

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Welcome to INDEVOURS

Welcome to INDEVOURS.

Hello everyone, this is from INDEVOURS a group that I am a part of and that is fundraising to help make the last year of our degree a reality. So, go check out the site, post your comments, check us out on facebook, and don’t be afraid to interact. :)

If your interests vary from mine, this is also the opportunity to check out the other 31 students heading to placements and learn about what they’ve been blogging about and the work they will be doing in the upcoming year.

SRD on Facebook

Hello all my lovely followers, and everyone else. Just letting you know that you can now checkout the Center for Sustainable Rural Development in Vietnam out on facebook!
If you’re interested in what I’ll be up to during my 8 month placement in Hue, Vietnam you can follow the organization on facebook (along with following this blog of course) and hopefully learn more about it (maybe even see a few photos!)

Learning Vietnamese

Christian found a way to describe the actual challenges and difficulties our Vietnamese class has been facing and I think it’s a worthwhile read for everyone!

Venturing Vietnam

In the English language, tone of voice can play a surprisingly crucial role in determining the meaning of someone’s words.

As an English-speaker you are probably quite familiar with this, and you have definitely used the tone of your voice to inflict meaning beyond your English words. Tone is an exceptionally useful tool in verbal communication, as it can often subconsciously communicate a mood, opinion, or intention that words may be trying to conceal. Astoundingly, experts on non-verbal communication have discovered that as little as seven percent of communication is verbal: the rest lies within vocal sounds (thirty eight percent, including pitch, rhythm, and volume) and body movements (fifty five percent and mostly consisting of facial expressions.) I would personally consider tone to fall into the category of vocal sounds, as it shares similarities with pitch and can be influenced by volume, speed, and many other vocal characteristics. If you…

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