With projects in nine provinces in the northern and central regions of Vietnam, the Norwegian aid organisation Plan reaches 142 communities and 226 000 households with their Early Childhood Care and Development projects.
They have a special focus on poor and vulnerable groups, such as ethnic minority people living in the mountainous regions, and their main priorities are to reduce the malnutrition rate, to improve health care and to provide quality basic education to children. The goal of the Norwegian funded project is for ethnic minority children aged 0-8 to increasingly enjoy their right to survival and development, and to be better prepared for success in life.
Field visit by the embassy
The Norwegian Embassy recently visited Plan Vietnam project in Phu Tho province.
Present on the field trip was, among others, Chargé d’affaires a.i. Dr. Ragnhild Dybdahl from the Norwegian Embassy and Mr. Sven Coppens, Program Director at Plan Vietnam.
The project will target all children aged 0-8 years old in selected communes in four districts in four different provinces in Vietnam. The communes have been selected due to their high ethnic minority populations, and ethnic minority children are the primary target group for the project. Other target groups include parents and caregivers, teachers and village health workers, community promoters, and representatives for government departments at commune, district and province level.
Respect and ability to share most important
Ms. Dybdahl was very impressed with the project and she emphasized that field visits are very useful and a good way to understand the important work that NGOs do. After visiting a child friendly library at a primary school, observing reading activities at a preschool and talking to health officers at a commune health centre, she expressed the importance and great value of the people working closely with the children.
“The teachers, the health workers and the care givers, it’s their skills, their ability to treat children and adults with love and respect, their knowledge and ability to share the knowledge and the joy of learning that is most important,” Ms. Dybdahl said.
Education a key to development
Despite great development progress and tremendous improvement in child health and education in Vietnam, challenges remain. Early child mortality remains relatively high (16 of 1000 children live born do not reach the age of 5) and many children are poorly nourished. The high stunting prevalence (one out of three children is short for age) is a social and economic concern and is likely to affect the health and wellbeing of children, as well as reduced educational achievement and adult productivity. Ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable.
Norway continues to focus on ethnic minority rights as part of the focus on human rights in the country. Education is central in addressing poverty and human resource development, and a greater focus on early childhood care and development is a vital tool to facilitate the full participation of ethnic minority children in the formal education system and the Vietnamese society.
Plans’ projects are supported by The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) with a total 8 mill Norwegian kroner, and the project period is from 2012-2015.
Norwegian NGOs in Vietnam
Civil society organizations play an important role in Norwegian society, and are essential in developing effective partnerships on development with the people of Vietnam.
Including Plan, there are currently eight Norwegian NGOs represented in Vietnam, working within the field of community development. These organizations met in Hue in April earlier this year for the annual Norwegian NGOs meeting, where the various organizations had the opportunity to learn from each other and to see how they could further cooperate.
Embassy representatives, including the Ambassador, were present during this meeting, which was organized by the NGOs themselves.
Photos: Anders Lerdahl Sørlien