Australian Ambassador Visits GREAT projects in Son La
Posted on 19/04/2022
On 12 and 13 April 2022, a delegation from the Australian Embassy in Vietnam led by Ms Robyn Mudie, Australia’s Ambassador to Vietnam visited Son La Province to meet with local government leaders and farmers and businesses who are benefiting from the Australian-funded Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism (GREAT) Program.
The delegation learned first-hand Australian investments are improving livelihoods and economic opportunities for local women from ethnic minority groups. The visit reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to socio-economic development in the northwest region as a part of its long-term partnership with Vietnam through the GREAT program.
The visit included a tour of Xuan Nha Clean Bamboo Shoot Cooperative in Xuan Nha Commune, Van Ho District, which is supported by GREAT’s partner Centre for Rural Development (CRED). The delegation witnessed how the Program is connecting local women to high-value markets and has introduced labour-saving technology. Ms Mudie and other delegates were warmly welcomed by local women at Vat Village, Moc Chau District, a community-based tourism initiative supported by GREAT’s partner Action on Poverty. The delegation was impressed with how the Program has supported local community-based tourism businesses and groups to improve their tourism services and income. Despite the impact of COVID-19, the GREAT program has supported Vat Village to grow from 2 to 17 homestay businesses and become a thriving tourism destination.
The delegation also heard how the Program has helped local women respond and recover from COVID-19, including through a digital accelerator program to sell products and services via e-commerce platforms.
The visit also included an interesting field trip to Ta So Village, Moc Chau District, led by Ms Cherie Russell, the Australian Embassy’s Development Counsellor to see how local communities and government have worked together to develop Ta So as a community-based tourism destination. There was also a discussion with homestay owners to understand the challenges, including the impact of COVID-19 and how tourism has helped empower local women.
Ms Mudie remarked that she was very proud as the GREAT program has achieved positive results in Son La including 6,506 women with increased income and had attracted nearly A$4 million in private sector investment. There is also strong evidence the program has positively impacted women’s workload sharing, decision making and leadership roles.
“Together we have achieved very positive results, despite the disruption of COVID-19 for agriculture and tourism businesses. Australia is committed to our partnership with the Son La Provincial Government and businesses to strengthen agriculture and tourism, creating more opportunities for ethnic minority women,” Ms Mudie remarked.