Our Legitimate Rights

Posted on April 14, 2017

Meet Ms Hong

Ms Hong is of Muong ethnic background, among the minorities in Vietnam that suffer from marginalisation.  She is a member of the local Community Investment Supervision Board (CISB) in Hoa Binh province. The local government created the Board to engage citizens in social monitoring of public investment.

But there was just one issue. When Ms Hong was nominated by her community to join the Board, she and the other 11 members were ordinary citizens - mostly farmers. None of them had training in social monitoring. None were formally educated in their legitimate rights.

The group tried their best to monitor public investments, such as road construction, in the commune. But without the proper tools, they couldn't effectively assess the project. Their concerns went unaddressed.

Learning about their rights

Frustrated by their lack of progress, Ms Hong and the Board attended a training session hosted by AFAP Vietnam and the Vietnam Fatherland Front. Here, Ms Hong learned what she needed to know about citizens’ rights, monitoring procedures, and reporting.

With the help of the CISB Handbook - an easy-to-use guide with practical tools for monitoring, inspecting and reporting on construction - Ms Hong and the Board successfully evaluated plans for a new communal house. They found that the placement of the entrance didn't make sense. Ms Hong also led a stakeholder dialogue, which gathered the opinions of the whole community.

A voice for the community

Ms Hong and the Board presented their findings to the construction company and investors. When they voiced their concerns about the design, the construction company listened to the people and adjusted their plans accordingly.

The Board has continued to use the CISB Handbook for monitoring the construction of the communal house.

Ms Hong monitoring construction

The CISB Handbook has been so successful in Hoa Binh province that several other provinces are beginning to adopt its use.

As for Ms Hong, she was nominated as Vice Head of her Board. With a smile, she told us:

“Not only does the CISB now have the tools we need for social monitoring, but we feel much more confident in practising our legitimate rights.”

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