November 21, 2012 6:16 am

A humble cow brings hope for a better future…

Nguyễn Thị Hầm is a 50 year old single woman, living on her own in the province of Tay Ninh.  Like so many other poor households around her, she lives in very basic conditions.  Her house is a dilapidated shack made of straw, mud and scrap metal.  When it rains heavily, Ms Ham needs to leave her home and seek shelter elsewhere as her house often floods.  Under any severe weather conditions, her safety would be risk and her house would most certainly be destroyed.  Sadly, Ms Ham doesn’t have enough money to improve her living situation. Due to a health condition, Ms Ham is unable to work and she does not have any children to support her.  Her sister had been kind enough to loan her a small piece of land to build her house, however they themselves are struggling to make a decent living.

The cow loaned to Ms Ham will be a significant asset for her. When the cow is old enough to breed and has a baby calf, which can be returned to the cow bank and loaned to another family, the original cow is hers to keep.  That’s an asset worth about US$1000.ADRA in Vietnam heard about Ms Ham’s case and invited her to participate in their Cow Bank and Community Development (CBCD) project which aims to enhance the livelihood security of poor households in Tay Ninh province. This means that they’ll be able to improve their living conditions and opportunities for the future.  As part of the project, Ms Ham was provided with a nine month old female cow and livestock husbandry training so she learns how to care for the cow.  All participants of the project are also involved in Community Development Clubs, where they meet to discuss and aim to resolve social issues such as access to clean water, health, education, environment protection and women’s and children’s rights.

“I love my cow.  She is part of my family, since I don’t have one of my own.  She brings me hope for a better future and better living conditions.  It’s not safe where I live now, especially when it rains heavily.  It will take a few years, but I want to have 3 or 4 cows and then I will sell one to build a new and safe home that I can live in for the rest of my life.”

For now, Ms Ham will still be able to make a modest living selling vegetables, which she is able to grow and fertilise with manure from her cow. The CBCD project also supports its participants with small income generation initiatives, so Ms Ham will be able to receive the kick-start she needs to start a small business. With the ability to save a little money, she hopes that she can gradually make improvements to her house so that she doesn’t have to live in such poor and insecure conditions.

Additional Information:  Over the past two years, ADRA in Vietnam has loaned over 400 cows to impoverished households and people with disabilities in the south of Vietnam.  Most of them have no savings and live in very poor conditions. Although the project is aimed at improving livelihood security of its participants, it indirectly plays a valuable role in disaster risk reduction for these families.  The ownership of a cow is a significant asset and can be sold in order to build a safe house, providing better protection from severe weather conditions when they occur.

By Monica Chong
Partnerships Development & Marketing Officer
ADRA Vietnam