US embassy cable - 02HOCHIMINHCITY779

OFDA TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: ALLEVIATING SOME UNCLASSIFIED

Identifier: 02HOCHIMINHCITY779
Wikileaks: View 02HOCHIMINHCITY779 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Ho Chi Minh City
Created: 2002-07-30 07:07:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: EAID ECON EAGR SENV VM
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

300707Z Jul 02

2002HOCHI00779 - UNCLASSIFIED
 
 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ0391

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ACTION EAP-00   

INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   CEA-01   CIAE-00  CTME-00  
      DINT-00  DODE-00  DOEE-00  ITCE-00  DOTE-00  SRPP-00  EB-00    
      EXME-00  E-00     FAAE-00  FBIE-00  UTED-00  FDRE-01  VC-00    
      FRB-00   H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   IO-00    ITC-01   L-00     
      VCE-00   AC-01    NSAE-00  NSCE-00  NSF-01   OES-01   OIC-02   
      OMB-01   OPIC-01  PER-00   PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00   SP-00    
      IRM-00   STR-00   TEST-00  TRSE-00  USIE-00  EPAE-00  PMB-00   
      DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /013W
                  ------------------D1E5AD  300827Z /38    
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6588
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 
USDOC WASHDC
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
USDA WASHDC
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000779 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV, EAP/PD 
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR OES/ETC AND USAID 
USDA FOR FAS/FAA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAID, ECON, EAGR, SENV, VM 
SUBJECT:  OFDA TAX DOLLARS AT WORK:  ALLEVIATING SOME 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
 
PAGE 02        HO CHI  00779  01 OF 02  300824Z 
OF THE MISERY IN VIETNAM'S MEKONG DELTA 
 
REF: A) HANOI 1024 
 
1. (U) SUMMARY: AN OFDA-FUNDED DISASTER RELIEF PROJECT 
HAS BROUGHT A SMALL MEASURE OF RELIEF TO POVERTY- 
STRICKEN MEKONG DELTA FAMILIES, HARD HIT BY DROUGHT AND 
FOREST FIRES IN KIEN GIANG PROVINCE, VIETNAM.  THESE 
COMMUNITIES EKE OUT A MARGINAL EXISTENCE AROUND THE U 
MINH THUONG NATIONAL PARK, WHICH IS ITSELF THREATENED 
BY POACHING AND COUNTERPRODUCTIVE POLICY DECISIONS. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
USAID DISASTER ASSISTANCE 
---------------------------- 
 
2. (U) ON JULY 17, AMBASSADOR BURGHARDT AND AN 
EMBASSY/CONSULATE GENERAL TEAM (DPO, ECONOFF, FSN 
POL/ECON ASSISTANT, OFDA OFFICER/MANILA, AND A PRIVATE 
WATER MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT) OBSERVED THE STARK 
AFTERMATH OF DROUGHT AND FIRE IN THE U MINH THUONG 
NATIONAL PARK IN KIEN GIANG PROVINCE.  THE AMBASSADOR 
HAD DECLARED THIS AREA ELIGIBLE FOR DISASTER RELIEF 
AFTER FIRES LAST MARCH BURNED DOWN MORE THAN 2300 
HECTARES, REDUCING THE COMPLEX FOREST ECOSYSTEM TO 
BURNT PEAT AND CHARRED LOGS. 
 
3. (U) AT THE AMBASSADOR'S REQUEST, USAID/OFDA PROVIDED 
USD 50,000 FOR DISASTER RELIEF.  THE OFDA FUNDS 
PROVIDED FRESH DRINKING WATER, ESTABLISHED INCOME- 
GENERATING PROJECTS IN AQUACULTURE, BEE KEEPING, AND 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        HO CHI  00779  01 OF 02  300824Z 
BROOM-MAKING, AND DEVELOPED A WATER 
SANITATION/ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS CAMPAIGN.  IN 
ADDITION TO THE OFDA DISASTER RELIEF PROJECT, CARE 
INTERNATIONAL ALSO MANAGES A FIVE-YEAR PROGRAM NEAR THE 
U MINH THUONG PARK TO PROVIDE MICRO-LOANS AND CREDIT, 
IMPROVE VILLAGE INFRASTRUCTURE, CONDUCT AGRICULTURAL 
RESEARCH, AND REFOREST PARK AREAS. 
 
THE U MINH THUONG NATIONAL PARK 
------------------------------- 
 
4. (U) THE U MINH THUONG NATIONAL PARK (UMT) COVERS 
8000 HECTARES OF MARSHLANDS AND "MELALEUCA" FOREST TO 
THE CAMBODIAN BORDER.  "MELALEUCA" IS AN INDIGENOUS 
TREE IN KIEN GIANG AND GROWS IN THE HIGHLY ACIDIC PEAT 
SOIL HERE.  IN 1993, THE GVN DESIGNATED UMT AS A NATURE 
RESERVE TO PRESERVE ITS THREATENED PLANT AND ANIMAL 
SPECIES, SOME OF WHICH ARE ABSOLUTELY UNIQUE TO THIS 
AREA.  IN ADDITION TO HOSTING RARE TREES AND FERNS, UMT 
IS THE ONLY REMAINING PEAT SWAMP FOREST ECOSYSTEM IN 
VIETNAM.  THE AREA IS ALSO ONE OF THE LAST TWO 
REMAINING HABITATS IN THE WORLD FOR THE ENDANGERED 
HAIRY-NOSED OTTER, AND CONTAINS THE LARGEST WATER BIRD 
COLONY IN VIETNAM. 
 
QUESTIONABLE LOGIC: RESETTLING A LANDLESS POPULATION 
AROUND A NATURE RESERVE 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
5. (U) SHORTLY AFTER THE UMT RESERVE WAS CREATED IN 
1993, THE GVN MOVED 3160 PREVIOUSLY LANDLESS HOUSEHOLDS 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        HO CHI  00779  01 OF 02  300824Z 
(APPROXIMATELY 17,000 PEOPLE) INTO A 13,000-HECTARE 
BUFFER ZONE.  THE GVN GAVE EACH FAMILY FOUR HECTARES OF 
LAND FOR RICE PRODUCTION AND SMALL-SCALE AQUACULTURE. 
IN RETURN FOR THE LAND, EACH HOUSEHOLD MUST REPAY THE 
GVN USD 2,000 IN SEVEN YEARS (ALTHOUGH THE PAYMENT 
SCHEDULE IS FLEXIBLE), AND GROW ONE HECTARE OF 
"MELALEUCA" TREES, THUS REDUCING THEIR AVAILABLE LAND 
TO THREE HECTARES.  IN ADDITION, THE FAMILIES MUST ALSO 
PROTECT THE CORE ZONE FROM BEING ILLEGALLY HARVESTED. 
 
6. (U) THE ALLOCATION OF FOUR HECTARES OF FERTILE 
FARMLAND TO PREVIOUSLY LANDLESS FARMERS GENERATED HIGH 
EXPECTATIONS, BUT IT APPEARS MOST DREAMS HAVE YET TO BE 
FULFILLED.  THE WOODEN OR BAMBOO HOUSES, MANY WITH 
THATCHED ROOFS AND WALLS OF PLASTIC SACKING, CONTAIN 
THE BAREST ESSENTIALS AND WERE LITTLE MORE THAN SEMI- 
ENCLOSED RAIN SHELTERS.  KITCHEN, BATHING AND RESTROOM 
FACILITIES CONSIST OF PLATFORMS OVER THE CANALS THAT 
CRISSCROSS THE BUFFER ZONE.  RESIDENTS LOOKED GAUNT AND 
TIRED.  A FORMER TECHNICAL ADVISOR TO UMT PARK SAID 
THAT BUFFER ZONE RESIDENTS OFTEN FAIL AT FARMING AND 
LEASE THEIR PROPERTY TO OTHERS, BECOMING SQUATTERS ON 
THEIR OWN LAND. 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ0392 
 
PAGE 01        HO CHI  00779  02 OF 02  300824Z 
ACTION EAP-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   CEA-01   CIAE-00  CTME-00 
      DINT-00  DODE-00  DOEE-00  ITCE-00  DOTE-00  SRPP-00  EB-00 
      EXME-00  E-00     FAAE-00  FBIE-00  UTED-00  FDRE-01  VC-00 
      FRB-00   H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   IO-00    ITC-01   L-00 
      VCE-00   AC-01    NSAE-00  NSCE-00  NSF-01   OES-01   OIC-02 
      OMB-01   OPIC-01  PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00   SP-00    STR-00 
      TEST-00  TRSE-00  USIE-00  EPAE-00  PMB-00   DRL-02   G-00 
      NFAT-00  SAS-00     /013W 
                  ------------------D1E5B9  300827Z /38 
P 300707Z JUL 02 
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6589 
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 
USDOC WASHDC 
ASEAN COLLECTIVE 
USDA WASHDC 
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 
 
UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000779 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV, EAP/PD 
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR OES/ETC AND USAID 
USDA FOR FAS/FAA 
 
 
PAGE 02        HO CHI  00779  02 OF 02  300824Z 
OF THE MISERY IN VIETNAM'S MEKONG DELTA 
 
BUT THERE ARE PLANS FOR A WAR MEMORIAL IN UMT PARK 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
7. (SBU) THE GVN RECENTLY ANNOUNCED A PLAN TO DEVELOP A 
SECTION OF THE CORE ZONE AS A WAR MEMORIAL AND TOURISM 
SITE.  CARE INTERNATIONAL STAFF FEAR THAT THE ROAD 
CONSTRUCTION WILL DAMAGE U MINH THUONG'S ECOSYSTEM AND 
FACILITATE POACHING.  THEY HAVE URGED THE KIEN GIANG 
PROVINCE PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE TO COMPLETE AN 
ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT FOR THE ROAD, AS REQUIRED 
UNDER VIETNAM'S ENVIRONMENTAL LAW.  TO DATE, THE 
PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE HAS NOT ISSUED AN ASSESSMENT, WHICH 
SOME CARE STAFF MEMBERS S ATTRIBUTE TO THE NATIONAL- 
LEVEL POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR THE MEMORIAL. 
 
8. (U) COMMENT: ALTHOUGH THE MEKONG DELTA PROVIDES 
APPROXIMATELY 30 PERCENT OF VIETNAM'S RICE HARVEST, 
CERTAIN AREAS, INCLUDING THE U MINH THUONG NATIONAL 
PARK, REMAIN EXTREMELY POOR.  WHILE THE OFDA-FUNDED 
PROJECT ALLEVIATED SOME OF THE IMMEDIATE MISERY 
FOLLOWING THE FIRE, SUBSTANTIALLY MORE RESOURCES ARE 
NECESSARY TO MEET BASIC HUMAN NEEDS.   AT THE SAME 
TIME, THE GVN'S DECISION TO RESETTLE PEOPLE IN THE U 
MINH THUONG NATIONAL PARK'S BUFFER ZONE RAISES 
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LONG-TERM VIABILITY OF THE PARK'S 
CONSERVATION MANDATE.  END COMMENT. 
YAMAUCHI 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        HO CHI  00779  02 OF 02  300824Z 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 


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