Ecovillage Projects in Vietnam
By Diana Leafe Christian
Since the early 1990s the government of Vietnam has set up small ecovillage projects in that country’s poorer, ecologically vulnerable rural areas — barren coastal sandy areas along the Central Coast, and three different habitats (coastal dunes, wetland areas, and mountainous areas) — in the floodplains of the North Delta. The projects are developed and managed by Vietnam’s Institute of Ecological Economy, and its Institute for Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment — both programs of the country’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE).
The Institutes developed and teach two permaculture-like strategies for ecological restoration and economic development in rural areas: an integrated garden/fishpond/livestock (VAC) plan for coastal dunes and floodplain areas, and an integrated garden/forest/fishpond/forest (VACR) plan for mountain areas. Government funding for these projects was sometimes supplemented by grants from other countries, including Sweden and France.
(2) From 1996-1998 an ecovillage project was built on 99 ha (245 acres) of sloping, highly eroded hilly terrain near Ba Vi in Ha Tay province. Among the residents were 90 recently arrived households of Dzao people, an indigenous tribe who’d practiced slash and burn agriculture in another area. People were taught how to create terraced fields on contour, plant stands of trees to prevent soil erosion, improve soil quality, plant fruit trees, and dig fish ponds. Medical clinics and kindergartens were also built.
(3) In 1997-1998, 20 households of shrimp fishermen in Tinh Gia, a coastal wetland area in Thanh Hoa province, were taught to replant 20 ha (49 acres) of mangrove forest to induce the return of the native shrimp population.
(4) In 2007-2009 on 9.7 ha (24 acres) in the floodplains of Y Yen, in Nam Dinh province, 27 households were taught how to integrate fish breeding in ponds with vegetable gardens and fruit-tree orchards — again, with more and better food for the residents.
There are from 19 ecovillage projects total in Vietnam.
Vietnamese ecovillage projects were celebrated at an international symposium, “Green Economic Corridor and Ecovillage Development,” hosted in August, 2010 by National Economics University (NEU) in Hanoi and sponsored by Global Environment Project in Asia (GEPA). GEPA is a project of the Institute of Economic Research at Chuo University in Tokyo.
So it was a great honor when Professor Ogata asked me to present a paper at the August 2010 International Symposium on Vietnamese ecovillages. While I couldn’t attend the Symposium because of a schedule conflict, my paper (on how people start intentional community-style ecovillages in the Industrialized North) will still be included in the book about Vietnamese ecovillages that Professor Ogata is compiling and editing from Symposium papers. It will be published in English by Chuo University Press in August, 2011. For information on how to order the book, email Professor Ogata at ogata~at~tamacc.chuo-u.ac.jp or see his website.
- Ecovillages in Scandinavia, Part I — July/August '10
- Ecovillages in Scandinavia, Part II — November/December '10
- From Russia with Love — Nov-Dec '09
- Forming Our French Network of "Grouped Habitats" — May '09