The International Labour Organization (ILO) is unveiling a new three-year, US$600,000 project to improve the health and safety of farmers in Vietnam.
The scheme, which will be launched on 17th May 2004 with a ceremony at the Sofitel Plaza Hotel, is being funded by the Japanese Government. The programme will be implemented in four provinces, Ha Nam in the north, Nghe An in central Vietnam, and Can Tho and Hau Giang in the south.
About 67 per cent of Vietnam’s working population is involved in agriculture and agricultural production. Modernizing the sector and increasing productivity therefore plays a vital in poverty alleviation and the country’s social and economic development.
However Vietnamese farmers face many safety and health risks. Some are age-old: heat stress, long and irregular working hours, backbreaking work postures and the strain of handling of heavy items. Modern agricultural technology has also brought new dangers: agro-chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides, electricity and farm machinery all pose potentially life-threatening hazards when not used correctly.
The new scheme has a number of objectives. It will help the Vietnamese government develop policies for occupational safety and health in agriculture. It will assist Vietnam’s preparations to ratify the ILO’s Convention 184 (which covers occupational safety and health in agriculture). It will help develop effective safety and health training networks for farmers by bringing together different government departments and ministries, including Vietnam’s Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance, the Vietnam Farmers’ Union, and the Vietnam Women’s Union. Together these organisations will serve as the national project operation unit.
There are also plans to teach farmers to become trainers themselves, to spread the message further and faster.
The project will be based upon the ILO’s proven WIND (Work Improvement in Neighbourhood Development) programme, which has been operating in Can Tho province since 1992. This grass-roots programme relies on local self-help initiatives and examples of good health and safety practices to get its messages across, and since its introduction even the poorest farmers in the scheme have been able to produce real improvements in their living and working conditions, using only simple, low-cost methods.
“The success of the WIND scheme shows that real improvements in health and safety for farmers don’t require a lot of money, expensive equipment or training,” said Ms. RoseMarie Greve, Director of ILO Vietnam “We are delighted that we now have the resources to apply these successful techniques more widely. By helping cut the numbers of injuries and deaths in agriculture the scheme will not just improve the quality of life of ordinary Vietnamese farmers and their families, it will support the country’s economic development too”.
For more information please contact:
Mr. Nguyen Hoang Ha
48-50 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street
Tel: 7340902/3/5 ext.202
Ms. Tran Thi Van Thu, Head
Department of Occupational Safety
Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs
12 Ngo Quyen Street