Practicing 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 CISB to engage citizens in social monitoring of public investment.

There’s just one issue with the design of the CISB. When Ms Hong joined 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 legitimate rights.

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

Learning about our legitimate rights

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

Using AFAP Vietnam's CISB Handbook, Ms Hong and the Board evaluated the construction of a new communal house. Ms Hong also led a stakeholder dialogue, which heard the opinions of the whole community. They then presented their findings to the construction company and investors.

When the Board evaluated the plans for the house, the entrance placement didn't make sense. During the dialogue, the construction company listened to the people and adjusted their design accordingly. After this, the Board continued to use the CISB Handbook throughout the construction of the house.


AFAP’s 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 practicing our legitimate rights.”

Our Governance work is generously supported by Australian Aid and Irish Aid. Learn more about our Governance work in Vietnam.