Thirty five years after the war, Vietnam is still filled with hundreds of thousands of tons of bombs, landmines, ammunition, and unexploded ordnance scattered throughout all 63 provinces of the country and contaminating every category of topography: forests, mountains, pastures, cultivated land, lakes, rivers, streams, and coastal settings. It is a scourge which has caused over 30,000 deaths and 64,000 injuries since 1975 and which diminishes the productivity of significant parts of its land and inhibits socio-economic development activities.
Between 1962 and 1971, at airports and U.S. operation centers throughout South Vietnam, more than 20 million gallons of herbicide were stored, mixed, handled and loaded into airplanes for the spraying campaign which aimed at depriving opposition forces of food crops and the ground cover that supported and sheltered them from U.S. attack.
Agent Orange and some of the other herbicides were contaminated with dioxin, a highly toxic and persistent organic pollutant. Dioxin has been linked by the U.S. Institute of Medicine to cancers, diabetes, and nerve and heart disease among people directly and indirectly exposed, and to spina bifida among their offspring. The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences classify it as a known human carcinogen. It is toxic over many decades and does not degrade easily.
1. Project title:
The Dioxin Resolution Innitiative in Vietnam (DRIVE)
Phase 1: 11 provinces of Thai Binh, Nam Dinh, Ninh Binh, Quang Tri, TTHue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Dong Nai, Can Tho (2005-2007)
Phase 2: 6 provinces of Thai Binh, Nam Dinh, Ninh Binh, TTHue, Da Nang, Quang Nam
3. Project description and justification:
Description of the problem the project aimed to solve:
Over 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides were sprayed by United States forces on southern and central Vietnam between 1961 and 1971. As with American veterans, the several million Vietnamese who were sprayed directly or otherwise came in contact with these herbicides continue to carry the dioxin within their bodies, often with severe consequences for their health and the health of their offspring. In addition, it continues to pose a threat to hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese living in and around former US military airbases where the spray planes were based and serviced.
Commencing in July 2006, VVAF seeks to ensure that residents of hotspot areas – those areas which are still contaminated to this day - and individuals exposed to the chemicals during the war, receive the medical and social services and information that they need to protect their health, maintain an acceptable standard of quality of life, and contribute to overall growth and development in Vietnam through a cross-sectoral approach (health care, vocational training, and social inclusion).
During the initial phase, the DRIVE program focused primarily on provision of humanitarian services to the disabled in the selected provinces, working in partnership with provincial authorities and local organizations to identify the needs of the disabled and designing interventions to alleviate their difficulties. Phase I (2006-2007) provided direct support to people with disabilities, counseling and support to help re-integrate disabled individuals into mainstream society, and advocacy for greater awareness of the issue and support for people with disability. Phase II (2009-2010) expanded its services in 06 provinces, with higher focus of assistance, to a larger number of people with disabilities (PWD) and people allegedly affected in Da Nang, Thua Thien – Hue, Quang Nam, Ninh Binh, Nam Dinh, and Thai Binh through capacity building for the PWD associations and the CBR centers.
VVAF has also been an active advocate, and significant progress has been made on a number of fronts, to engender intra-governmental and intergovernmental discussion of dioxin issues. VVAF worked with both the United States and Vietnamese governments to frame provisions for the joint statement signed by President Bush and Prime Minister Dung in November 2006. In that statement, both governments agreed to continue cooperation in pursuit of resolution of the environmental and health issues related to dioxin usage. VVAF also worked closely with key members of the US Senate and House of Representatives to gather support for legislation that provided funding for dioxin mitigation in Vietnam, the first such legislation passed by Congress.
Finally, VVAF works in Vietnam, the US and in other countries, to utilize the mass media to disseminate information concerning the ongoing difficulties in Vietnam related to the use of herbicides during the war.
Proposed activities and timeline:
The program activities fall in the following categories during the implementation period (2009-2010)
(i) OBJECTIVE 1: Enhance access to health care service for PWDs and those allegedly affected by dioxin
§ Provide physical rehabilitation equipments for eight-ten selected respite/CBR centers
§ Professional development for staff working at the selected respite/CBR centers
§ CWDs in respite/CBR centers are provided with rehabilitation and care
§ A network of community based health workers is developed and maintained
(ii) OBJECTIVE 2: Empower PWDs though strengthening associations of PWDs
§ Strengthen capacity through training for key members of provincial association of PWDs based on the result of survey (TOT)
§ Facilitate key members to conduct trainings for other members
§ Establish new self-help groups for the family members/care-givers of the CWDs
§ Contact the family members/care givers of the CWDs being cared at the CBR centers to establish new groups
§ Training for group capacity strengthening - Experience sharing among groups, especially on how to take good care of the CWDs and also do other family business. Strengthen capacity for selected respite and community based rehabilitation centers
(iii) OBJECTIVE 3: Raise awareness on PWDs and dioxin issues at local, national and international levels
§ Local media programs on PWDs are broadcast
§ Enhance the participation of NGOs, the government officials and media in PWDs/AO related functions
§ Conduct workshops on PWDs/AO related issues, through the chair of the AO/Dioxin Working Group (active in this position since August 2006)
§ Participate in Disability working group/Forum activities
§ Continue work closely with both governments of the US and Vietnam, providing periodic briefing papers when required
§ Continue to work closely with relevant US Congressional offices and the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate to keep them informed of the dioxin-related programs funded by both US government and non-governments
Expected outcomes of the project:
(i) Approx. 70% of PWDs benefited from the program have better health
(ii) Approx. 60 % members of provincial association of PWDs are active
(iii) 1 - 2 new self help group established with 20 – 40 members
(iv) Better public understanding on PWDs and Agent Orange related issues
Implementation Budget (for 02 year 2009-2010):
Details of the organization capabilities in delivering the project:
From 1994 - 2008, VVAF has been working in partnership with the Ministry of Health to provide support for orthotic rehabilitation and skills training to provide orthotic devices and other solutions for those whose mobility is impaired. These include victims of the wars, other trauma, disease, and congenital defects. In 2002, among the first foreign NGOs, VVAF started support for persons treated in the hospitals to join together in self-help groups where they could share their experiences with others and, through this process, develop increased opportunities for employment and education. In Sept 2008, we also incorporated Self Help activities for those disabled as the result of exposure to chemicals and herbicides during and since the war whom we assist in our DRIVE Program.
PROJECT BENEFITS AND BENEFICIARIES
2. Target beneficiaries
The disabled allegedly affected by DIOXIN/Agent Orange in the project targeted provinces
3. Total number of direct beneficiaries
Housing improvement for households of people with disability (PWD): 640 households
Surgery and immediate support for children with disability: 850
CWD receiving assistive devices: 59
Financial aid for livelihood improvement, for family with PWD: 1404
Vocational training for PWD or PWD care-givers: 600
CWD received rehabilitation services at the CBR centers: 510
Direct supports to PWD: 544
Capacity building training to the PWD association members: 239