Evaluation of Village Development Fund Investment Strategies
The ‘Chia Se’ programme consisted of four components - three provincial projects in Ha Giang, Yen Bai, and Quang Tri provinces and a national one, which together supported poverty alleviation and poverty-focused national policy making. In each province, two districts participated. Besides its focus on poverty alleviation, Chia Se also supported decentralisation under the Vietnamese Government's ‘Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy’ and the 5-Year Development Plan, ensuring that vulnerable and disadvantaged groups can participate fully in Vietnams rapidly reforming and developing society.
Chia Se supports decentralisation by making poverty alleviation a bottom-up and demand-driven process. A core programme concept is the discretional management of local development funds by villages, empowering them to pursue their own development priorities and make articulate demands on needs and expectations for general public service delivery.
Between 2003 and 2008, the Chia Se Village Development Fund (VDF) has provided some 60 billion VND to more than 400 villages in the three Provinces Ha Giang, Yen Bai and Quang Tri. An estimated 200,000 villagers have decided at village meetings how these funds should be invested, either for activities benefiting the whole community, for income generating activities or for direct support to individual households.
From discussions with village officials it is known that different villages have adopted slightly different investment strategies, sometimes as a result of different socio-economic realities in the villages, and sometimes as a result of different values and traditions as regards sharing of common resources. The VDF has provided a unique experience of local communities discussing alternative uses of investment funds and of taking decisions that were based on common values as well as on their assessments of potential outcomes. This study sought responses not only which different strategies of deployment were used by village meetings, but why such changes took place.