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Cablegate: Ofda Tax Dollars at Work: Alleviating Some

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

300707Z Jul 02

2002HOCHI00779 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ0391

PAGE 01 HO CHI 00779 01 OF 02 300824Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AGRE-00 AID-00 CEA-01 CIAE-00 CTME-00
DINT-00 DODE-00 DOEE-00 ITCE-00 DOTE-00 SRPP-00 EB-00
EXME-00 E-00 FAAE-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00 FDRE-01 VC-00
FRB-00 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 ITC-01 L-00
VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 NSF-01 OES-01 OIC-02
OMB-01 OPIC-01 PER-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 SP-00
IRM-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 EPAE-00 PMB-00
DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /013W
------------------D1E5AD 300827Z /38
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6588
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY
USDOC WASHDC
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
USDA WASHDC
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000779

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV, EAP/PD
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR OES/ETC AND USAID
USDA FOR FAS/FAA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ECON EAGR SENV VM
SUBJECT: OFDA TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: ALLEVIATING SOME
UNCLASSIFIED


PAGE 02 HO CHI 00779 01 OF 02 300824Z
OF THE MISERY IN VIETNAM'S MEKONG DELTA

REF: A) HANOI 1024

1. (U) SUMMARY: AN OFDA-FUNDED DISASTER RELIEF PROJECT
HAS BROUGHT A SMALL MEASURE OF RELIEF TO POVERTY-
STRICKEN MEKONG DELTA FAMILIES, HARD HIT BY DROUGHT AND
FOREST FIRES IN KIEN GIANG PROVINCE, VIETNAM. THESE
COMMUNITIES EKE OUT A MARGINAL EXISTENCE AROUND THE U
MINH THUONG NATIONAL PARK, WHICH IS ITSELF THREATENED
BY POACHING AND COUNTERPRODUCTIVE POLICY DECISIONS.
END SUMMARY.

USAID DISASTER ASSISTANCE
----------------------------

2. (U) ON JULY 17, AMBASSADOR BURGHARDT AND AN
EMBASSY/CONSULATE GENERAL TEAM (DPO, ECONOFF, FSN
POL/ECON ASSISTANT, OFDA OFFICER/MANILA, AND A PRIVATE
WATER MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT) OBSERVED THE STARK
AFTERMATH OF DROUGHT AND FIRE IN THE U MINH THUONG
NATIONAL PARK IN KIEN GIANG PROVINCE. THE AMBASSADOR
HAD DECLARED THIS AREA ELIGIBLE FOR DISASTER RELIEF
AFTER FIRES LAST MARCH BURNED DOWN MORE THAN 2300
HECTARES, REDUCING THE COMPLEX FOREST ECOSYSTEM TO
BURNT PEAT AND CHARRED LOGS.

3. (U) AT THE AMBASSADOR'S REQUEST, USAID/OFDA PROVIDED
USD 50,000 FOR DISASTER RELIEF. THE OFDA FUNDS
PROVIDED FRESH DRINKING WATER, ESTABLISHED INCOME-
GENERATING PROJECTS IN AQUACULTURE, BEE KEEPING, AND
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 00779 01 OF 02 300824Z
BROOM-MAKING, AND DEVELOPED A WATER
SANITATION/ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS CAMPAIGN. IN
ADDITION TO THE OFDA DISASTER RELIEF PROJECT, CARE
INTERNATIONAL ALSO MANAGES A FIVE-YEAR PROGRAM NEAR THE
U MINH THUONG PARK TO PROVIDE MICRO-LOANS AND CREDIT,
IMPROVE VILLAGE INFRASTRUCTURE, CONDUCT AGRICULTURAL
RESEARCH, AND REFOREST PARK AREAS.

THE U MINH THUONG NATIONAL PARK
-------------------------------

4. (U) THE U MINH THUONG NATIONAL PARK (UMT) COVERS
8000 HECTARES OF MARSHLANDS AND "MELALEUCA" FOREST TO
THE CAMBODIAN BORDER. "MELALEUCA" IS AN INDIGENOUS
TREE IN KIEN GIANG AND GROWS IN THE HIGHLY ACIDIC PEAT
SOIL HERE. IN 1993, THE GVN DESIGNATED UMT AS A NATURE
RESERVE TO PRESERVE ITS THREATENED PLANT AND ANIMAL
SPECIES, SOME OF WHICH ARE ABSOLUTELY UNIQUE TO THIS
AREA. IN ADDITION TO HOSTING RARE TREES AND FERNS, UMT
IS THE ONLY REMAINING PEAT SWAMP FOREST ECOSYSTEM IN
VIETNAM. THE AREA IS ALSO ONE OF THE LAST TWO
REMAINING HABITATS IN THE WORLD FOR THE ENDANGERED
HAIRY-NOSED OTTER, AND CONTAINS THE LARGEST WATER BIRD
COLONY IN VIETNAM.

QUESTIONABLE LOGIC: RESETTLING A LANDLESS POPULATION
AROUND A NATURE RESERVE
--------------------------------------------- ---

5. (U) SHORTLY AFTER THE UMT RESERVE WAS CREATED IN
1993, THE GVN MOVED 3160 PREVIOUSLY LANDLESS HOUSEHOLDS
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HO CHI 00779 01 OF 02 300824Z
(APPROXIMATELY 17,000 PEOPLE) INTO A 13,000-HECTARE
BUFFER ZONE. THE GVN GAVE EACH FAMILY FOUR HECTARES OF
LAND FOR RICE PRODUCTION AND SMALL-SCALE AQUACULTURE.
IN RETURN FOR THE LAND, EACH HOUSEHOLD MUST REPAY THE
GVN USD 2,000 IN SEVEN YEARS (ALTHOUGH THE PAYMENT
SCHEDULE IS FLEXIBLE), AND GROW ONE HECTARE OF
"MELALEUCA" TREES, THUS REDUCING THEIR AVAILABLE LAND
TO THREE HECTARES. IN ADDITION, THE FAMILIES MUST ALSO
PROTECT THE CORE ZONE FROM BEING ILLEGALLY HARVESTED.

6. (U) THE ALLOCATION OF FOUR HECTARES OF FERTILE
FARMLAND TO PREVIOUSLY LANDLESS FARMERS GENERATED HIGH
EXPECTATIONS, BUT IT APPEARS MOST DREAMS HAVE YET TO BE
FULFILLED. THE WOODEN OR BAMBOO HOUSES, MANY WITH
THATCHED ROOFS AND WALLS OF PLASTIC SACKING, CONTAIN
THE BAREST ESSENTIALS AND WERE LITTLE MORE THAN SEMI-
ENCLOSED RAIN SHELTERS. KITCHEN, BATHING AND RESTROOM
FACILITIES CONSIST OF PLATFORMS OVER THE CANALS THAT
CRISSCROSS THE BUFFER ZONE. RESIDENTS LOOKED GAUNT AND
TIRED. A FORMER TECHNICAL ADVISOR TO UMT PARK SAID
THAT BUFFER ZONE RESIDENTS OFTEN FAIL AT FARMING AND
LEASE THEIR PROPERTY TO OTHERS, BECOMING SQUATTERS ON
THEIR OWN LAND.

UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ0392

PAGE 01 HO CHI 00779 02 OF 02 300824Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AGRE-00 AID-00 CEA-01 CIAE-00 CTME-00
DINT-00 DODE-00 DOEE-00 ITCE-00 DOTE-00 SRPP-00 EB-00
EXME-00 E-00 FAAE-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00 FDRE-01 VC-00
FRB-00 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 ITC-01 L-00
VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 NSF-01 OES-01 OIC-02
OMB-01 OPIC-01 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 SP-00 STR-00
TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 EPAE-00 PMB-00 DRL-02 G-00
NFAT-00 SAS-00 /013W
------------------D1E5B9 300827Z /38
P 300707Z JUL 02
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6589
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY
USDOC WASHDC
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
USDA WASHDC
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000779

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV, EAP/PD
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR OES/ETC AND USAID
USDA FOR FAS/FAA


PAGE 02 HO CHI 00779 02 OF 02 300824Z
OF THE MISERY IN VIETNAM'S MEKONG DELTA

BUT THERE ARE PLANS FOR A WAR MEMORIAL IN UMT PARK
--------------------------------------------- ----

7. (SBU) THE GVN RECENTLY ANNOUNCED A PLAN TO DEVELOP A
SECTION OF THE CORE ZONE AS A WAR MEMORIAL AND TOURISM
SITE. CARE INTERNATIONAL STAFF FEAR THAT THE ROAD
CONSTRUCTION WILL DAMAGE U MINH THUONG'S ECOSYSTEM AND
FACILITATE POACHING. THEY HAVE URGED THE KIEN GIANG
PROVINCE PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE TO COMPLETE AN
ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT FOR THE ROAD, AS REQUIRED
UNDER VIETNAM'S ENVIRONMENTAL LAW. TO DATE, THE
PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE HAS NOT ISSUED AN ASSESSMENT, WHICH
SOME CARE STAFF MEMBERS S ATTRIBUTE TO THE NATIONAL-
LEVEL POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR THE MEMORIAL.

8. (U) COMMENT: ALTHOUGH THE MEKONG DELTA PROVIDES
APPROXIMATELY 30 PERCENT OF VIETNAM'S RICE HARVEST,
CERTAIN AREAS, INCLUDING THE U MINH THUONG NATIONAL
PARK, REMAIN EXTREMELY POOR. WHILE THE OFDA-FUNDED
PROJECT ALLEVIATED SOME OF THE IMMEDIATE MISERY
FOLLOWING THE FIRE, SUBSTANTIALLY MORE RESOURCES ARE
NECESSARY TO MEET BASIC HUMAN NEEDS. AT THE SAME
TIME, THE GVN'S DECISION TO RESETTLE PEOPLE IN THE U
MINH THUONG NATIONAL PARK'S BUFFER ZONE RAISES
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LONG-TERM VIABILITY OF THE PARK'S
CONSERVATION MANDATE. END COMMENT.
YAMAUCHI

UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 00779 02 OF 02 300824Z

UNCLASSIFIED

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