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Young leaders lift rural areas out of poverty

Update: March, 31/2013 - 12:38

Groundbreaker: 30-year-old Nguyen Thi Thu Lan was assigned to work as deputy chairwoman of the People's Committee of Tam Thanh Commune in Phu Tho Province. She has overcome the language barrier to successfully implement a biogas project within the area. — File Photos

by Mai Xuan Tung

Most people assume that People's Committee officials are experienced middle-aged men, so it is hard to believe that 30-year-old Nguyen Thi Thu Lan and 24-year-old Nguyen Thi Huong are deputy chairwomen of their communes in two disadvantaged northern provinces.

Lan and Huong are two of 600 young intellectuals who have been assigned to work as deputy chairmen in poor areas. Overcoming their first tough moments, they have enthusiastically implemented socio-economic development projects, gradually alleviating local poverty.

Graduating in sociology from Hong Duc University in Thanh Hoa, Nguyen Thi Huong is deputy chairwoman of Xuan Le Commune in the central province. Unexpectedly, her initial success in the new role came from pig farming.

Shortly after she assumed her position, disease swept through local cattle making it dangerous for consumption, and Huong had to persuade farmers to destroy the livestock.

"It was very difficult to persuade the villagers because many of them are poor and have to borrow money from the banks to buy cattle," Huong says.

After over half a year working as the village's deputy chairwoman, Huong has initiated a new direction for local economic development: raising "herb" pigs, a small kind of pig common in the centre of Viet Nam.

"Herb pigs are resilient and adapt easily to the severe environment and weather conditions in mountainous areas. Pigs may be economically effective, but the villagers only raised them on a small scale," she adds.

Anticipating the difficulties she would face persuading the villagers to change livestock, Huong took the initiative and visited other areas where similar models are in place. The project was approved and last February, Xuan Le Commune requested financial support from the District People's Committee."

The biggest pig farm in the area belongs to villager Vi Van Duong, and is over 200sq. metres.

According to Huong, the villagers will be given financial support to buy piglets and sows and taken to visit successful farms in the area.

The young deputy chairwoman, together with other local cadres, has also implemented a programme to support education while improving the lives of young villagers by encouraging locals to contribute nutritious food to nursery schools.

Female force: A sociology graduate from Hong Duc University, Nguyen Thi Huong is deputy chairwoman of Xuan Le Commune in Thanh Hoa Province.

The biogas cellars

Born in 1983, Nguyen Thi Thu Lan was assigned to work as deputy chairwoman of the People's Committee of Tam Thanh Commune in Phu Tho Province.

Lan's main duty is giving the local economy a boost, so she decided on a project to process biogas.

"My project aims to help farmers deal with waste to ensure environmental sanitation and utilise technology to produce biogas to supply clean energy at a low price. At the same time, the organic fertilizer can be used on crops after the waste has been processed," Lan says.

To implement the project successfully, Lan's biggest obstacle was the language barrier. In Tam Thanh Commune, Muong ethnic people account for 65 per cent of the local population, while in some areas, the villagers are illiterate. Lan had to learn their language and visit each family individually to persuade them to participate in the project.

So far, 55 families have registered to borrow capital, while many others have agreed to use their own savings to take part.

"Each family will receive from VND15 to 20 million (US$750-1000), according to Government Programme 3A to develop biogas. This March, the local branch of the Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development in Tan Son District will assess the project and allocate capital," Lan adds.

Both Huong and Lan are determined to devote themselves to the development of the disadvantaged areas they call home. With their youth and enthusiasm, they provide a breath of fresh air contributing to the future of the country. — VNS

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