Like many traditional women in the countryside, Nguyen Thi Chung was shy and reluctant when joining activities organised at her community in the northern province of Thanh Hoa.
But today, Chung who is in her 30s, can speak clearly and confidently in front of many people in Hoang Thanh community, Hoang Hoa district. She has talked about climate change and disaster risk reduction, which are difficult topics for both herself and other villagers.
To gain this confidence, she has been ceaselessly learning.
“The first time I had ever heard about climate change and disaster risk reduction was when I participated in the training conducted by CATREND Project in 2012. After the course, I recognised the issues were relevant to my daily life as I started to observe the weather phenomenon happening at my hometown,” she recalls.
Under World Vision's CATREND project, Chung has educated local people about climate change and disaster risk reduction.
She continued to take part in a series of training courses under World Vision’s Coastal Areas of Thanh Hoa Province Resilient to Natural Disasters (CATREND) grant project over the past three years.
At first, she joined the courses simply as a listener. Gradually, she decided to disseminate what she learnt to her community members who are living along coastal areas and vulnerable to disasters.
She started designing her own training materials in 2014. Her first lesson, which last 60 minutes, was illustrated with a lot of creative drawings and graphics. She had organised four communication sessions for a total of 120 people by December 2014.
“The most important is how to make my lessons relevant and intelligible. I used dialect, gave explanation and provided examples in accordance with local context,” she says.
Local women have changed. They play a significant role in our activities.
Chung is one of the 31 key female trainers who were trained by CATREND project. They didn’t know anything at the beginning, but they have now been able to educate local people about climate change and disaster risk reduction.
To date, they have trained 2,000 families and local authorities at 75 villages in eight communities on making disaster preparedness plans at commune, village and household levels.
With the plans, women have identified what they need to do before, during and after a disaster happens to protect their families. They have also understood their roles and responsibilities in disaster preparedness and response at their community.
Their work is not just about disseminating theory. The trainers have also organised many practical activities such as gathering rubbish on beach and sweeping alleys and streets. These activities were able to mobilize strenuous participation of hundreds of men and women in their communities.
Local women have trained 2,000 families and local authorities at 75 villages in eight communities on making disaster preparedness plans at commune, village and household levels.
Nguyen Phu Dzung, Vice Chairman of Hoang Thanh Commune People’s Committee, highly appreciates women’s parts in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation at their community.
“Local women have changed. They play a significant role in our activities. The head of our local Women Union is a member of the project management board. We often seek their advice and call for their participation when planning or implementing activities,” he explains.
From passive participants, women have actively raised their voice in Hoang Hoa district. They are confident to make plans and organise local awareness raising events on environment-related issues.
“We will continue our activities no matter when the project phases out,” confirms Nguyen Thi Tuyet, head of the local Women Union.
The CATREND project aims to reduce impact of natural disaster under climate change’s effects for communities in Thanh Hoa province. The project lasts from 2011 till 2016 and benefits more than 73,000 people in Quang Xuong and Hoang Hoa districts. It’s funded by the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Photos and text: Vo Thi Thu.