The Context

The project’s origin:

Thac Ba Lake was created 60 years ago and it is currently the biggest artificial lake in the North of Vietnam. The area has been engulfed after the building of a dam and thousands of islands have emerged. The inhabitants have lost their lands and nowadays they still are affected by this event. The several government plans that have been proposed through the years – from the coffee plantation to eucalyptus plantation – were all failures.

Despite these events, 25 years ago the local traditional habits and a diversified agriculture on families’ lands were still remaining. But then a cassava processing factory settled in the area, providing a strong source of income. Everybody started to grow cassava and about 80 000 people were directly or indirectly implicated in this activity. Yet, like other monocultures, the growing of cassava impacts the environment. Cassava is known for containing toxins that are naturally present in the soil but once they are concentrated they can be dangerous for the environment. The factory didn’t handle the processing properly and all the surroundings’ groundwater were contaminated by those toxins. Despite of the merge of some diseases, the factory was still running until recently, when it was forced to move further – and therefore pollute another place.

Then local people started to grow another popular monoculture known for its fast growing: the Australian eucalyptus plantation. This plantation doesn’t need any sylvicultural work and can be exploited after only 3 years. But under this intense silvicultural system, the soil is getting poorer and poorer as the eucalyptus absorbs all the nutriments from it.

Now, after 15 years of production on every bank and island of the lake, the soil cannot hold it anymore and the trees are getting smaller. As agriculture is closely linked to local culture, all these changes have deeply impacted the traditional way of living. Many families have invested a lot in these monocultures, leaving the traditional diversified agriculture and depending on the monocultures success.

The project LaVieVuLinh has been created in this context.

Fredo Binh