When we first met Ms. Nguyen Thi Bac in Vietnam, she was barely earning enough money to feed herself, surviving on $1 a day. Her community was displaced years earlier to make way for a hydroelectric dam.
She was forced to relocate to the mountainous Da Bac region, where the harsh climate and infertile land made agriculture extremely difficult.
This meant her primary way of making a living, rice farming, was no longer possible. So she tried to make earn an income by collecting and selling grasses, which was hard work for very little return.
How we helped
Action on Poverty began working in Dac Bac in 2011 as part of the BRIGHT Futures Program, funded by the Australian Government.
This program partners with local governments and NGOs to promote market access for the rural poor and build capacity for cooperative social enterprises.
We worked with Ms. Nguyen Thi Bac to lead a women-run cooperative to turn the chit grass they were already collecting into a product they could sell for a decent profit – brooms.
Women in the cooperative now earn 5 times more than they did before the program, and the community has been empowered to advocate for improved social services like education and health.