News / Industry News Article
Buffaloes Get Home MakeoverJanuary 7, 2011
Eight buffalo corrals and shelters built by NorthWood-GVI volunteers in November are helping to livestock to survive a harsh winter in Lao Cai province. Temperatures have dropped to as low as 4 degrees Celsius (39F). Water buffalo - a vital part of agriculture and livelihood in Lao Cai - often die in such conditions due to the cold and shortage of food. (As of the end of January, 2011, the unusually cold weather has killed an estimated 3,000 water buffalo in Northern Vietnam.)
"Thank you, American volunteers, for coming and helping us build the corrals," said 25-year-old Bac Ha farmer Vang Seo Bua, speaking on behalf of the eight families who received GVI-sponsored corrals. "It is a very meaningful project for us because the water buffalo is considered the biggest asset in a Hmong family. The corral helps us protect our biggest asset."
The farmers also said that a GVI-sponsored training course helped them to raise their animals better. As a result of the course, the farmers have started to keep more feed in reserve for their buffalos for extreme weather situations like they are now facing.
The Bac Ha Farmer's Association recently visited GVI's project site in Lau Thi Ngai commune and reported that the new shelters provide warmth and protection for the buffalo. The old buffalo pens consisted of a light fence that provided little protection from the elements and which the buffalo would often escape from.
The sponsorship and construction of buffalo corrals and shelters are part of NorthWood-GVI's Poverty Alleviation program in Lao Cai Province, which provides microloans to farmers living below the poverty line. These loans help them buy more livestock, seeds and other things to increase their income. The program also provides emergency loans in case of natural disaster.
Other aspects of the program are being developed such as technical training and livelihood training, which includes English teaching, budgeting and animal husbandry.