Mekong Plus celebrates an eventful 2022

It is undeniable that the post-pandemic instability that transcends energy problems, climate disruptions and socioeconomic consequences worsened by war was a source of worry and uncertainty for Mekong Plus and its partners. But nevertheless, the Vietnam and Cambodia-based non-profit organisation has persevered—continuing its goal to change lives in the region through community projects focused on improving infrastructure, education, agronomy and sustainable living.

Staying true to its mission with Anh Duong local NGO partner

Complex poverty is still affecting more than a stunning 20 million people—accounting for more than 22.8% of the total combined population of both countries.

With a mission built upon a desire to aim at villagers who live on less than €1 a day, Mekong Plus places emphasis on adaptable solutions such as microcredit programmes that help beneficiaries start cottage businesses which now serve more than 7,300 households in both Vietnam & Cambodia. From those 7,300 households, more than 70% of them have seen an increase of income of more than 25% annually thanks to regular follow-up, technical support, and a comfortable repayment plan of between €80–200 in 6 months.

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Mme Van, one of Mekong Plus’ beneficiary

Ms. Van, one of Mekong Plus’ beneficiary

Last year, more than 4,000 children received scholarships to help them move on to secondary education, improving their chances of a better future with knowledge, skills and more. With children’s education taking up more than 25% of an average rural family’s income, Mekong Plus empathizes with a common voice desired by local leaders—“We want every child to go to school!”.

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A group of kids in a school in rural Mekong Delta

The mission has also evolved significantly to weed out the root cause of poverty. From training female leaders to host workshops that help local women fight domestic abuse, to improving roads and erecting river-crossings that improve connectivity between rural areas and towns, Mekong Plus remains loyal to its belief that a multi-faceted approach is the most effective way of alleviating the effects of poverty.

Solidarity at the heart of the efforts

Mekong Plus’ philosophy to community projects remains the same—a participatory approach involving two-way dialogue with villagers to understand their expectations while encouraging locals to participate in the creation and actualisation of area-based projects.

In 2022, Mekong Plus worked with 2 hamlets in Long Mỹ Commune of Vietnam’s Hau Giang province to produce biofeed for chicken farms using azolla, a tiny, highly-specialised aquatic fern that multiplies rapidly and destroy rivers and aquatic habitats by enveloping entire surfaces of water.

Together with locals, Mekong Plus volunteers developed an efficient drying and grinding process, incorporating azolla powder into commercial chicken feed to reduce reliance by nearly 30%.

A similar principle is applied to another new innovation. Using discarded palm dates in vegetation-dense regions in the Mekong delta to create soil-less compost, locals become more agronomy savvy and no longer need to rely heavily on industrial fertilisers as they transition towards semi-organic farming techniques.

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A farmer labouring his field

For land-strapped villagers, training them to start space-saving cottage industries such as weather-resistant covered vegetable farms and rice-paddy eel farms provided much needed financial support that is not at the mercy of the seasons.

All in all, with 50% of most programmes costs are borne by villagers and local partners and special care taken for the training of villagers, locals are well equipped to work independently in the future, even in the possible absence of Mekong Plus.

Other projects involving classroom-focused health, eyecare, sex education, special-needs education and computer-literacy programmes mean that Mekong Plus volunteers work hand-in-hand with Vietnamese and Cambodian educators.

Going beyond changing lives into the realm of environment

Triggered by the post-pandemic dilemma and severe energy shortage and increasing severity of global warming, Mekong Plus’ dedication to helming projects that boast a double-goal sees strengthened resolve.

In the last two years, special incentives have been given by Mekong Plus to locals who opt to build homes with tiles and roofings made of recycled plastic—an effort that is seeing increased optimism despite initial reluctance thanks to improved extrusion and fabrication techniques.

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A house made from recycled materials

More and more families who can afford to own livestock are being trained to collect methane released by decomposing animal waste—a valuable cooking fuel that can be utilised indefinitely with a small investment of plastic bags and PVC tubes that cost less than US$70

At a smaller yet significant scale, tree-planting drives involving local school children continue to improve village aesthetics, air-quality, while teaching the importance of protecting the environment.

Loyal partners helping Mekong Plus help even more

Mekong Plus is grateful for the continued support from local partners whose expertise and  despite the significant decline in direct donations has created a sense of uncertainty in financial means necessary to fulfil the budget of 2023 and beyond.

As such, Mekong Plus pledges to diversify its fundraising strategy and sources of income while forging relationships with national and international corporations that increasingly see the positive effects of corporate social impact.

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The hardworking Ánh Dương Center team

Mekong Plus is deeply thankful for the support of the Community Advancement Organization (CAO) in Cambodia, and Ánh Dương Centre & Thiện Chí Centre in Vietnam.

How you can help Mekong Plus

Since its birth in 1994, Mekong Plus believes that the human dimension is essential for every community, and for its evolution.

For Mekong Plus, this means helping underprivileged locals in Cambodia and Vietnam fulfil every basic need and the right to live in dignity through impactful, multi-disciplinary action!

Evidently, development works when everyone participates.

“Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say ‘We have done this ourselves!’” ― Lao Tzu

With the world being connected internationally once again, Mekong Plus is hard at work, organising regular bamboo bicycle tours in Vietnam and Cambodia.

To find out more about how you can join these life-changing bicycle tours, follow the Mekong Plus Facebook page, or email Mekong Plus about your private tour request at administration@mekongplus.org

Contribute today and click here to find out more about how you can make a difference and change lives.

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