Livelihoods Community Model – sustainable solution to poverty alleviation for Tam Thanh Commune’s people

Mr. Le Van Dung (1980 Tang Village, Tam Thanh Commune, Tan Son District) is one of many beneficiaries as participating Livelihoods Community Club we visited. This year, his family’s living condition has improved significantly.

As member of the Livelihoods Community Club, Mr. Dung along with other members have the opportunity to share their experiences with each other, study successful economic models and discuss ways to enrich their own lives at their homes. “We are glad to be part of the livelihoods club. Being part of this club has taught my family to learn about and practice the pig raising model in addition to other activities such as producing wine and making tofu. This has helped us improve our living conditions”, Mr. Dung shared.
With the aim of supporting households in Tam Thanh Commune and Tan Son District, improve their sources of income, the Center for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) has conducted a sustainable livelihoods project. This project is focused on developing economic diversification and accessing appropriate services. Ms. Ha Thi Son – President of Tam Thanh Commune Livelihoods Community Club said: “The club was established in November, 2011. After a year of operation, there are 6 groups in 6 different villages of the commune with 105 proactive members. The club’s Board of Management has three members. Each group has from one to two monthly meetings at noon or in the evening to share their experiences in production. The club will have a meeting semiannually.”  
In its initial stages of establishment, the members of the club realized that a strong and healthy club required the solidarity and commitment during production.. Thanks to the technical support from the project, six groups established five Savings and Loans Associations. The members of these groups will save money in the club’s fund and lend money by contributing to the fund with a monthly share of VND 20, 000. With periodical meetings, and the transparent management from the clubs fund management team, all the members are able to keep track of the amount of money in their accounts. They also have the right to decide who the recipients and the terms and conditions for disbursed loans. Currently, the club’s Savings and Loans Associations own almost VND 50 millions. This amount of money will be lent out to 30 households to buy pig and fertilizers for tea. The maximum loan tenor is 6 months; and the maximum amount can be approved dependent on the initial share the members put into the club’s fund. Normally, the club’s members can borrow a loan of VND 1 – 2 million/ time, even VND 4 million/ time. Ms. Ha Thi Son shares that although the amount of money lent out depends on contributed share; the club always prioritizes and takes members facing difficulties into account first. As a result, participating in the club not only provides all the members with an opportunity to save their money as well as borrow capital but also strengthen the community solidarity. 

Ms. Le Thi Mai (Ward 5, Chieu Village) is one of first members of the club. With the support of the project, she and 105 other members had the opportunity to attend training courses on necessary techniques in growing rice, tea, vegetables and livestock. Such courses helped her realize that despite owning 3 hectares of land growing tea and wax tree, her family’s income was still low because of lack of techniques. As a result, she and her family decided to borrow capital to buy fertilizers for the cultivation of almost 1 hectares of new tea providing high productivity. Her family also expanded farm sizes and increased the number of livestock. Now, Ms. Mai’s family has from 10 to 15 pigs and hundreds of chickens. With better income, her family is able to pay off all the debt and afford better lifestyles.
This project not only equipped farmers with necessary knowledge and skills in production, animal husbandry through training courses, workshops or visiting models, but also lent out VND 200 millions interest – free loans payable within three years for the purchase of agricultural inputs such as breeds, fertilizers. In 2011, the project disbursed more than VND 60 millions.
The project’s activities have helped the people of Tam Thanh Commune change their awareness as well as old farming practices and provided them with better public services. This has motivated the people in Tam Thanh Commune’s to pursue better and sustainable livelihoods. .