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Engineers take action on poverty in Vietnam

Four hundred people living in a disadvantaged village in northern Vietnam are enjoying safer travel in and out of their community thanks to collaboration with SMEC and Action on Poverty (AOP).

SMEC, an Australian-headquartered global engineering consultancy with a local office in Vietnam, partnered with AOP to support the much-needed infrastructure project.

For the 80 households of this remote village, which lies in the mountainous Hoa Binh region, access to school or to the rice paddies was along a dirt road prone to erosion, especially during the rainy season. This was not only treacherous for locals, but for tourists too.

A man walks down a narrow road in a rural village in Vietnam

The village has begun developing community-based tourism (CBT) as a new livelihood model. By establishing tourism businesses such as homestays, guided tours and cultural performances, families are improving their incomes and lifting themselves out of poverty. However, poor road access is a hazard for tourists coming by car or bus.

With technical advice from the local SMEC team and a grant from the SMEC Foundation, the community built a new 200-metre concrete road. The road is wide enough for tourist buses and durable enough to withstand the unpredictable weather.

Over 50 locals also contributed labour to the project, which provided a much-needed income stream for households struggling with a drop in tourism due to COVID-19.

“The project was implemented amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which means we have additional income during this challenging time,” said Mr. Dinh Cong Thao, leader of the local construction group.

Local resident, Mr Ha Van Than, said the road will make a big difference to his family and his business.

“From now on, my children can enjoy a safer road when travelling to school. With the newly-constructed road, it’s also more convenient for tourists.”

Upgraded road with small bridge

SMEC has partnered with AOP since 2020 to implement infrastructure projects that empower marginalised communities in Africa and Asia to break the cycle of entrenched poverty.

“SMEC’s knowledge and expertise have been invaluable and allowed us to implement infrastructure projects that wouldn’t otherwise have been possible,” said AOP’s CEO, Brayden Howie.

Roger Bayliss, Chairman of the SMEC Foundation, said the organisation is proud to be a part of grassroots development projects in the countries where SMEC operates.

“Australian corporates are in the position to drive change and address both local and global poverty, social disadvantage and environmental protection through sustainable programs, awareness and education,” he said.

Find out more about corporate partnerships

Australian corporates are in the position to drive change and address both local and global poverty.

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