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Friday, February 03, 2012

Community Liaison and Assistance - activity update.

The new Community Liaison and Assistance Project is now up and running thanks to your support. Developed as part of our response to the extended flooding at the end of 2011this project has two aims-

1- To provide needed recovery assistance to villages affected by flooding.
2- To provide information and support to allow local people to utilize the free or low cost services and facilities offered by NGOs and government.

In December we recruited a dedicated project manager to run this project. Va has three years community projects experience and a passion for making a difference.

One of Va’s first tasks has been carrying out needs assessments in the rural communities we work with. By interviewing the commune chief, village chiefs and households we were able to collect valuable information about what recovery assistance is required.

As one always should we went into these interviews with no fixed ideas as to what we might find but we did have a few ideas at the back of our minds. Maybe it’s vegetable seeds that are needed for re-planting? Or school uniforms as money will be tight? Or loans to establish small businesses to counteract the loss of harvesting work?

However one answer came back over and over – we need the road repaired. The road really is the lifeline, connecting the small villages to each other and to the town. There’s no point providing school uniforms if children can’t get to the school. No point encouraging small enterprises if people can’t get to the market.

At the moment the road is passable on foot, bicycle and motorbike as long as you go very slowly. Amongst other difficulties this means students cannot afford the time to attend school, travelling to the market takes more than double the time it should, those who labor in the town have to leave much earlier and return home much later and getting a patient to even the closest clinic is an arduous task. While we were interviewing we were told of an incident where a pregnant lady had to give birth on the road as progress towards the clinic was so slow. (Patients are carried in a hammock hung on a bamboo pole carried between two people.)

Making the decision to prioritize road building we set about organizing the next steps. We secured the cooperation of the local authorities and fixed the work schedule. As with our previous road repairing work we will be using a food for work scheme.


Providing paid work in the village is an important aspect of the road repairing activities, doubling their impact. Our surveying found the average household income in the villages to be well below the average, at around $350 per year and that 57% of families had lost rice crops in the flooding. Distributing rice in return for work allows the selected adults, the poorest in the villages, to better provide for their families.

Work underway


The first finished stretch of road


We anticipate the repairing of this first road will take two weeks. After that time we will be monitoring the use of the road to gauge the impact of the activity. We’ll also be checking the road’s condition, making any further repairs as needed.

Through carrying out the needs assessments and starting this road repair activity we know that although the flooding has now mostly subsided there is still work to do. The two aims of the project support those who have become more vulnerable due to the disaster by providing them with the infrastructure, knowledge and tools to make a positive change.

If you would like to support our ongoing Community Liaison and Assistance work you can donate here.

To see our relief work during the flooding click here.
 

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