Thứ Ba, 7 tháng 2, 2017

Social News 7/2

Nghe An takes action to curb avian flu

Diễn Châu District in central Nghệ An Province has stepped up preventive measures against A/H5N1 avian flu after hundreds of ducks were found infected with the disease last week.
On Friday, 60 ducks were found dead due to illness and 40 others were infected with disease at a farm belonging to Đặng Văn Suất in Diễn Thắng Commune.
A flock of nearly 450 ducks being raised by Suất were culled.
Other 500 flu-infected ducks belonging to Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng in Diễn Lộc Commune were also culled last Tuesday.
Local authorities have isolated the two pestholes to prevent the outbreak from spreading to nearby areas.
The provincial Department of Animal Health has provided 60 litres of sprayed chemicals and 20,000 vaccine doses for poultry bird injections in Diễn Lộc Commune. 
One dead, 37 injured in Soc Son accident
A female passenger died and 37 others were injured when their coach crashed into a rock on Sunday morning after visiting the Saint Gióng Temple in Hà Nội’s Sóc Sơn District.
The 35-seater coach with number 17B-00938 from northern Thái Bình Province reportedly had 42 people on board, who were returning from a visit to the temple located in the mountainous area of Hà Nội’s suburban district. According to reports, the driver of the coach lost control while coming down and crashed into the roadside rocks.
Đỗ Xuân Huân, chief secretariat of the office of Sóc Sơn District People’s Committee, said until Sunday afternoon, three passengers with serious injuries had been taken to a major hospital in the city while the others were being treated at Sóc Sơn District General Hospital.
Local authorities offered financial support to the victims from VNĐ500,000 (US$22) to VNĐ2 million ($88) each. The family of the deceased victim received compensation of VNĐ5 million ($220)
Police are investigating the accident.
Chinese business fined for environmental violations
Chairman of People’s Committee of northern Hải Dương Province Nguyễn Dương Thái has imposed an administrative fine of VNĐ672 million (US$29,372) on a Chinese textile company for violating regulations on treating waste water.
Pacific Crystal Textile Company, located in Lai Vu industrial park in Kim Thành District, was fined for discharging toxic waste which exceeded technical levels, including pH and color levels, total suspended solids (TSS), chemical oxygen demand (COD), and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD).
The local People’s Committee asked the company to respond to the consequences of the release, collect waste water and treat it following technical standards before it is released into the environment.
Pacific Crystal began operations at its $425-million plant in Hải Dương Province in December 2015. It specialises in manufacturing fabrics and raw materials for textiles.
Hanoi to help over 10,000 families escape poverty in 2017

The capital city of Hanoi will strive to help 10,230 families rise out of poverty in 2017, equivalent to a 0.6 percent reduction in household poverty rate.

To this goal, the municipal Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs have drafted plans to mobilize social resources for poverty reduction work based on the multi-dimensional approach with priority given to ethnic minority areas.

Specific policies to support the disadvantaged will be carried out to reach all those qualified for welfare allowance, including children.

In 2016, the poverty rate among Hanoi households was brought down to 2.37 percent, equivalent to 23,592 families rising out of poverty. The city spent 240 billion VND (nearly 11 million USD) to subsidize health insurance for 386,782 persons living under or just above the poverty line. More than 20,000 poor households were given access to preferential loans to start their production or small business activities to increase their income.

As of the end of the year, the city was providing monthly allowance to 177,294 beneficiaries.

Caring for children is a key task for the city, as 14,000 out of the city’s 1.8 million children are living in disadvantaged circumstances. An estimated 99.2 percent of the underprivileged children have received support in various forms.

Besides, Hanoi is stepping up efforts to build a child-friendly environment in its communes through setting up injury prevention models and providing training in child care and protection for local officials. Around 5,500 activists were also trained in preventing injuries and accidents for children.

Project develops sustainable livelihood sources for Dong Thap farmers

The flood-prone Dong Thap Muoi (Plain of Reeds) in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap will benefit from a project on enhancing flood drainage capacity and developing sustainable sources of livelihood for local residents.

The People’s Committee of the Mekong Delta province has approved the budget of over 664 billion VND (23.4 million USD) for this project, which includes more than 570 billion VND (25.2 million USD) in ODA loans. The rest will be covered by the province’s budget and private sources.

The scheme will be implemented from 2017 to 2020, targeting 22,313ha of land in the districts of Hong Ngu, Tam Nong and Thanh Binh and Hong Ngu township. It is set to benefit 11,400 local households.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Hung said under the plan, three livelihood models based on combination of rice cultivation and fish or shrimp raising will be introduced to local farmers.

While dykes and culverts will be upgraded or built, communication activities will be stepped up to encourage farmers to change their agricultural practices. It will also establish cooperatives and give farmers training in farming and product preservation techniques.

The project in Dong Thap Muoi is a component of the Mekong Delta Integrated Climate Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods project funded by the World Bank, which aims to enhance tools for climate-smart planning and improve climate resilience of land and water management practices in selected provinces in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.

Tra Vinh launches rural clean water programme

The Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh has kicked off a rural clean water programme in 2017, with the aim of providing tap-water for about 5,000 rural households.

Bui Van Mung, Director of the provincial Clean Water and Rural Environment Sanitation Centre said that 15 projects will be carried out to realize the target.

Five will be on the building of new water supply stations. Meanwhile, the other 10 will focus on improving and upgrading current water supply stations, installing water pipelines for about 5,000 families, thus raising the rate of rural households getting access to clean water to 87 percent.

Tra Vinh province invested over 17.6 billion VND (778,976 USD) in its rural clean water programme to repair and upgrade 40 water stations in 2016.

Accordingly, the water distribution network has been expanded, providing clean water for 14,778 families. A total of 94,239 households have access to clean water, accounting for 86 percent of the total.

Dak Nong accelerates new style rural area building

The Central Highlands province of Dak Nong launched a national target programme on building new-style rural areas for 2017 in Dak Rlap district on February 6.

Chairman of the Dak Rlap district People’s Committee Le Van Thi said the district was selected as the key location for implementing the programme, aiming to have all its communes meet all the criteria.

The district will focus on improving local people’s income and their living conditions while developing infrastructure facilities and services.

In 2017, Dak Rlap aims to have two new communes recognised as new style rural areas, Thi said.

According to Le Van Sinh, Vice Head of the provincial Office for the national target programme on building new-style rural areas, in 2016, the province poured nearly two trillion VND (88 million USD) into the programme, of which more than 1.4 trillion VNA (61.6 million USD) was covered by other local projects.

Despite being a mountainous disadvantaged province, all communes in the province have completed planning for new style rural area building, Sinh said.

The locality has assisted local farmers to change their crops, and breed high-value animals while promoting vocational training for rural labourers to increase their income.

On average, the province’s communes have completed 11 out of the 19 new style rural area building criteria, Sinh said, adding that the provincial Steering Committee for the programme has urged all localities to mobilise resources for the work.

In 2017, the province aims to have additional five communes meet all the criteria of the programme, raising the total to 10 communes, he said.

Fatherland Front leader promotes tree-planting cause

President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee (VFFCC) Nguyen Thien Nhan on February 6 attended a tree-planting festival in the northern province of Vinh Phuc where he emphasised the need to make tree planting a regular practice of Vietnamese people.

Nhan stated that on November 28, 1959, President Ho Chi Minh launched the tree-planting festival with the hope that the country would become more beautiful with a more pleasant climate and have a plentiful supply of wood in the next 10 years.

With that spirit, on January 1, 1960, at the Thong Nhat (Unification) Park, President Ho Chi Minh and thousands of people in Hanoi organised the first tree-planting festival.

Since then, the festival has become a movement and a good practice of Vietnamese people during the Tet (Lunar New Year) days, contributing to environmental protection and social-economic development.

Applauding the initiative of the Vietnam Farmers’ Association and the Vinh Phuc provincial People’s Committee to launch the tree-planting festival aiming to plant 800,000 trees, Nhan recommended the Vietnam Fatherland Front at all levels need to coordinate with local governments and the agricultural sector to assess the efficiency of tree planting in the past years to put forward more effective measures for upcoming years.

The goal is to make tree planting part of Vietnamese life, bringing practical benefits to socio-economic development in each locality by 2020, the 60th anniversary of the day Uncle Ho launching the tree-planting festival, he stressed.

Ly Son Island needs proper planning for tourism development

Both residents and visitors to Ly Son Island in the central province of Quang Ngai are concerned about a construction boom that can destroy the unique natural landscape on the island.

The island is becoming an attractive destination for domestic and foreign visitors, resulting in high demand for accommodations and other services.

According to the People’s Committee of Ly Son Island District in the central province of Quang Ngai, about 45,000 tourists came here in 2015, spending 546 billion VND (nearly 24.5 million USD).

It is expected that the number of tourists will reach 80,000 by 2020, bringing 1,200 billion VND (53.8 million USD) to the island.

Hundreds of restaurants and hotels were built or are under construction with differing architectural styles.

Tran Hoang, a local resident in An Vinh Commune, said that ten years ago the island was very wild, with spectacular natural scenery.

But beginning over two years ago, the landscape has been gradually destroyed by unplanned buildings.

"The fragmented tourism development is worsening the natural landscape. Many cultivated areas are being turned into construction land for tourism," Hoang added.

Further, bars, restaurants and hotels have been illegally built in the centre of the island at famous tourist spots, such as in Hang Cau, Hang Co, and Cong To Vo.

After holidays, the island is scarred by rubbish.

The provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has reported the situation to the provincial authority.

The report noted that the lack of direction on massive building has negatively affected the island, particularly the environment and beautiful beaches.

Huynh Thi Phuong Hoa, deputy director of the department, told the Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper that poor supervision by local authorities caused the problems, though the province has approved an overall plan for tourism on the island.

To solve this problem, provincial inspection teams are to examine land management and construction, which were reported to have affected the landscape of the entire island.

Further, cases of using planned tourism land for other purposes would be strictly dealt with, according to the provincial party committee.

The committee has also directed local authorities to review and temporarily stop carrying out tourism projects that are not funded by the State budget, to wait for more specific plans, said Le Minh Huan, head of the office of the provincial People’s Committee.

Relevant agencies were also required to review and propose plans to adjust construction projects, aiming to ensure the well-being of the ecosystem and natural landscape.

“The prolonged situation will risk breaking the well-endowed natural landscape of the island in the future,” Tran Van Minh, Deputy Secretary of provincial Party Committee said.

Ly Son district lies 18 nautical miles off the Vietnamese coast and covers an area of 10 square kilometres. It includes three communes: An Hai, An Vinh and An Binh.      

The island district has a population of approximately 2,100. The majority of residents earn a living from fishing and farming garlic and spring onion.    

Ly Son is striving to become a maritime economic centre by 2025, with a focus on tourism and aquaculture.              

Archaeologists found relics of Sa Huynh culture on the island, which date back to 3,000 years ago. Starting in the 16th century, a number of ethnic groups migrated to Ly Son from the mainland and have inhabited the island ever since.                            

The island boasts numerous forms of intangible cultural heritage, such as traditional boat races and the Hoang Sa Soldier Feast and Commemoration Festival, which was recognised as part of the national cultural heritage in April, 2013. In the past, during the Nguyen Dynasty, the festival was organised to choose the healthiest men for a team of Hoang Sa soldiers.

The festival, which has been held for more than 300 years, is organised between the fourth and eighth day of the Lunar New Year.

Khanh Hoa starts sea festival logo contest

The People’s Committee of the south central province of Khanh Hoa has launched a contest to design the logo for the Nha Trang-Khanh Hoa Sea Festival.

The logo is required to reflect the beauty of local people and landscapes as well as values of Khanh Hoa’s sea and islands.

The winner will receive 50 million VND (2,200 USD), while there will be four consolation prizes worth 10 million VND (440 USD) each.

Vietnamese citizens living at home or abroad, foreigners working and studying in Vietnam as well as domestic and foreign organisations are eligible to apply. Contestants will send their designs to the organising board by March 31. The awarding ceremony will be held in late April.

The biennial Nha Trang – Khanh Hoa Sea Festival was first held in 2003 and has become a typical social, cultural and artistic event of Khanh Hoa province. The eighth of its kind is slated for June 10-13, featuring nearly 50 activities to honour the province’s sea and island advantages and culture.

Yen Tu Spring Festival opens in Quang Ninh province

The Yen Tu Spring Festival officially kicked off on February 6, the 10th day of the first lunar month, at the Yen Tu historical site in Uong Bi city, the northern province of Quang Ninh.

The festival will feature a range of activities, including traditional rituals and folk games.

According to the festival management board, the Yen Tu historical site welcomed 136,000 visitors during the first six days of the lunar month, up 3 percent over the same period last year.

The number of visitors to the site is expected to hit 2 million during this year’s festival.

Yen Tu Mountain is located about 50 kilometres from Ha Long City. The area has a beautiful natural landscape and awe-inspiring scenery, surrounded by ancient pagodas and hermitages.

The pilgrimage route, which winds from the foot of the mountain to its pinnacle, is almost 30 kilometres. Dong Pagoda, which sits atop the mountain’s highest peak, is more than a kilometre above sea level.

In the 13th century, King-Monk Tran Nhan Tong (1258-1308), the third king of the Tran dynasty, abdicated the throne when he was 35 and spent the rest of his life on Yen Tu Mountain, practising and propagating Buddhism. He founded the first Vietnamese School of Buddhism called “Thien Tong” or Truc Lam Yen Tu Zen on the 1,068m-high Yen Tu Mountain. The 20,000ha site is considered the capital of Vietnamese Buddhism.

Besides numerous temples, it also preserves many old religious and cultural documents such as precious prayer-books and monks’ writings.

With its significant historical, cultural and natural values, Yen Tu was recognised as a Special National Relic Site in September 2012. It was also selected as one of the 10 most popular spiritual destinations in Vietnam by the Vietnam Records Organisation.-

Quang Ninh: Tourists rise 45 percent during Tet holidays

The Tourism Department of the northern coastal province of Quang Ninh has reported that the locality greeted 800,000 visitors during the week-long Lunar New Year (Tet) holidays.

The number of guests, including 86,000 foreigners, featured a surge of 45 percent from the same period last year, and a turnover of nearly 9 trillion VND.

The world heritage site Ha Long Bay welcomed nearly 70,000 visitors while Ha Long Ocean Park lured close to 25,000 guests.

Quang Ninh welcomed 8.3 million tourists in 2016, a year-on-year increase of 7 percent.

With mainland and sea surface coverage of 12,000 and a 1.2 million population, Quang Ninh has long been known as one of the top tourism centres in Vietnam with numerous attractive destinations and diverse tourism products thanks to the province’s efforts to boost tourism’ growth.

It has four major tourist hubs. The Uong Bi-Dong Trieu-Quang Yen area is home to many spiritual and cultural sites, while Ha Long Bay along with the adjacent area is famous as a centre for sight-seeing, culture, shopping and entertainment.

The Van Don-Co To area offers spiritual, sea and island and entertainment tourism, and the Mong Cai area is strong for sea tourism and shopping.

Ha Long city is a big tourism centre of the province. It now has 595 tourist accommodations, including 100 one to five star hotels; 30 shopping centres and restaurants; 500 cruise ships, including 169 standardised overnight tour boats. Tourism services in the city have increased in both quantity and quality.

Thanks to its favourable location, Ha Long has attracted big groups and businesses in tourism with the most noteworthy projects being the Ha Long Ocean Park of Sun Group, the Vincom commercial centre and the five-star resort in Reu islands, both of Vingroup, and the Times Garden complex of My Way Group, among others.

Ha Long has issued a resolution on turning itself into a high-quality tourism centre for 2016-2020.

According to the Department of Tourism, Quang Ninh currently has 157 accommodation establishments from one- to five-star ratings, along with 47 travel firms and nine beaches for tourists.

Recently, the department has teamed up with the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism to organise a famtrip for travel firms and media agencies across the country to a number of potential destinations around the Ha Long Bay World Natural Heritage site.

In order to fully tap tourism potential and increase the stay duration of tourists, the province is advised to apply comprehensive measures, including reviewing the planning and management of tourism, expand market and diversify tourism products.

At the same time, Quang Ninh is told to invest more in other types of tourism instead of focusing on only the Ha Long Bay, as well as in human resources for the sector. Experts suggested encouraging the involvement of the community in boosting tourism development.

Quan Lan becomes more attractive to holidaymakers

Quan Lan island in the northeastern province of Quang Ninh has become a magnet to visitors thanks to its pristine beauty.

Quan Lan is located in the Bai Tu Long National Park. There are many pristine beaches on the island, such as Son Hao, Quan Lan and Minh Chau, to name just a few.

In Quan Lan beach, the water is clear and blue. Most accommodation facilities here are small houses at the foot of the mountain. There are still few tourists, so the atmosphere is quiet.

The number of tourists to the island has sharply increased recently. In 2015, visitors to the destination numbered 45,000, almost doubling that in 2014. In the first ten months this year, it received 47,000 visitors.

The rise can be partly attributable to more diverse tourism products. In previous years, bathing was about the only thing tourists could do in Quan Lan. But now they have a lot of things to keep busy.

According to Luu Thanh Vien, Vice Secretary of the Quan Lan commune Party’s Committee, local residents used to live off fishing and catching Sa sung (a kind of marine worms). Sa sung is a speciality of the region. It's used in cooking soup, which helps provide a wonderful taste and adds nutrition to dishes. Digging for sa sung under the sand with the locals is a popular activity for tourists. Now these livelihoods have become a tourism product.

Vien underlined the development of experience-based tourism in the commune, saying that the Van Hai Xanh JSC offered a package named “Experience a day as farmer in Quan Lan island” in Son Hao village, in which holiday-makers will join in caring for vegetable and fruit trees, harvesting and enjoy the fruit of their own work.

Meanwhile, Viglacera – Van Hai JSC offers community-based tours, such as fishing, fire camping, and sport games.

The locality plans to open a Quan Lan – Tan Lap tour, in which tourists will be taken by boats from Quan Lan beach to Tan Lap hamlet located in Van Don town. They can join local fishermen’s daily activities or visit orange gardens in Ban Sen, or other landscapes.

Quan Lan Island, around 55km away from Ha Long City, is endowed with deep blue waters, white sandy beaches spanning several kilometres, and wild, green pines along the beach.

The sand on Quan Lan is different from the sand on other beaches. It's white, tiny, pure and smooth. The transparent water allows you to gaze at the bottom of the sea where you can watch fish swimming around colourful corals.

 Since the 11th century, Quan Lan had been a stopover along the commercial route. In the 12th century, Quan Lan was the first trading port of Vietnam built under the Ly dynasty.

In 1149, King Ly Anh Tong set up Van Don town and Van Don trading port, which included Quan Lan Island, in order to bolster commercial relations between Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries. Relics of the former trading port have been discovered with traces of ancient architecture and grazed terracotta, proving that the place used to be a crowded urban area.

During the fifth and sixth lunar months, the area annually celebrates religious ceremonies to remember the area's former king, and residents also hold boat rowing festivals.

In 1288, the island was also the site of the well-known defeat of invading Mongol troops, who were destroyed by General Tran Khanh Du's army. Tourists can visit a temple in Quan Lan dedicated to the General, where they can learn about the history of the region and the achievements of the commander. The temple's roof is hidden under pine canopies. Approximately 100 steps lead to the temple's entrance that is halfway up a mountain.
Uber, Grab beat Vietnam's motorcyle taxi drivers on their own turf
As more locals embrace ride-hailing apps, xe om drivers, mostly old and poor, find themselves on the losing side.
The growing popularity of app-based transport services like Uber and Grab has eaten into the incomes of many motorcycle taxi drivers in Vietnam.
Some have even predicted that these newcomers could eventually put old-fashioned drivers, now usually referred to as "traditional" xe om drivers, out of business.
Thanh, a middle-aged driver in Hanoi, said in the past the weeks before the Lunar New Year had always been busy for him, but this year everything changed.
“A large number of migrant workers and university students would be rushing back home ahead of Tet," Thanh said, waiting for his next passenger. "I couldn't drive them all. But business has slowed this year.”  
Drivers like Thanh have blamed the advent of transport apps like UberMotor and GrabBike. Tam himself is not sure how he can adapt to the changing times.
“Most people seem to have ditched old-fashioned drivers like me,” Tam told VnExpress.
Uber and Grab are leaving traditional motorcycle taxi drivers at the curb. These apps let the user secure a driver and know the fare before hitting the road.
Many xe om drivers reportedly cannot meet technical requirements to join Grab or Uber networks. Some don't have a smartphone to pick up passengers while others don't think they can catch up with the new tech.
“Young people now use high-tech devices," said Thanh, who thinks he's too old to learn how to use a smartphone. "So they can easily hail a ride with Grab or Uber drivers, who come to their home and pick them up."
The driver said this year he had to work longer hours on the street to make some extra cash.
Thanh said he used to earn at least VND200,000-300,000 (US$9-US$13) on a normal day and up to VND600,000 before Tet. But now he earns around VND100,000 only.
His fellow drivers have even turned to another job and he said he may just stay at home to help his wife at her shop.
“Last year was hard. I don’t even know how the new year will turn out,” the driver said.
Horse racing comes to Dai Nam with new track opening
Officials hope that with the opening of a new race track on January 29, horses and the Dai Nam Tourism Complex will soon become practically synonymous.
The new track spans some 60 hectares and, in addition to horses, it can accommodate dog, motorbike, go-kart, jet-ski and flyboard racing as well as a bevy of other entertainment events.
The grandstand can accommodate roughly 18,000 people, said Huynh Uy Dung, CEO of the Complex in a speech at the grand opening. We've been waiting a long time for this and we're excited that the opening is finally here.
He added that there is no betting at the track.  All earnings from events are earmarked for charitable and social purposes. 
Chinese tourists remain key driver of Vietnam's tourism boom
The number of international arrivals surged 23.6% in January, following a strong year.
Arrivals from China in January increased 67.9% from a year ago, accounting for a quarter of Vietnam’s total international tourist number, according to the General Statistics Office.
The country welcomed more than 1 million foreign visitors in the first month of 2017, a 23.6% increase, official data showed. Nearly 70% of the arrivals were from Asian countries.
China continued to maintain its place as the biggest feeder market with a record high 247,621 visitors. The number of Chinese tourists hit 2.5 million last year, out of the total 10 million visitors, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.
Vietnam’s proximity to China has made it a popular destination to many Chinese who want a vacation overseas without a long haul journey.
Most Chinese tourists come in through northern border provinces, particularly Quang Ninh, home of the famous Ha Long Bay, arguably the country’s top sightseeing attraction. Quang Ninh has recently allowed Chinese travelers in groups to stay up to three days without a tourist visa.
Vietnam has also offered visa exemptions to visitors from South Korea, Japan and Southeast Asian neighbors. Since mid-2015 it has also attracted more tourists from Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the U.K. with a similar policy, which is expected to be extended this summer.
Hoping to give the tourism industry a major push, the Vietnamese government has launched the much-touted online visa system for travelers on short holidays or casual business visits.
Tourism authorities are eyeing a 15% increase in international tourists this year.
Tourism is expected to contribute 10% to Vietnam’s gross domestic product, becoming a key driving force of the economy by 2020, when the country is expected to receive up to 20 million foreign visitors and earn $35 billion in tourism revenue.
Clubs empower female migrant workers in Ha Noi
They have to work 10-12 hours per day, live in highly cramped lodgings, have no spare time for themselves and receive no training to improve their skills.
The sorry plight of female migrant workers was highlighted at a seminar held recently by the Hà Nội Women’s Union.
A study done by the Research Centre for Family Support and Community Development (CFSCD) found female migrant workers in Phúc Xá Ward in Ba Đình District, and in Thịnh Liệt and Định Công wards in Hoàng Mai District had to live in narrow, boarding houses that lacked sufficient light and toilets.
They face a lot of difficulties in registering as temporary residents and have little or no access to social insurance and health insurance, a CFSCD report said.
It said more than 80 per cent of the women spoken to said they were engaged in manual labour and saw no prospects of finding other, more stable employment.
CFSCD Director Lê Thị Thủy said the lives of female migrant workers were extremely hard. They had to send money to their families, parents, or repay debts from when they were still at school, so their income did not meet even minimum requirements.
“Many of them do not have health insurance, so whenever they are ill, they are not taken care of and must spend too much on treatment fees. They fall into poverty easily,” Thủy said.
Since the beginning of last year, the Hà Nội Women’s Union and CFSCD have jointly implemented a project to improve the living conditions of female migrant workers in Hà Nội and enhance their empowerment.
The project established three female migrant worker clubs in the three wards mentioned above. The clubs held monthly meetings to help each other overcome obstacles in their lives.
Club members met with local authorities to with requests for specific assistance, like having part-time work to augment incomes, loans at preferential interest rates to do business, support to buy health insurance and permission for their children to study in public schools located in areas where they are registered as temporary residents.
Vũ Thị Kim Thơi, head of the club in Thịnh Liệt Ward, said they had 50 members who receive training and assistance in trading, healthcare and law towards improving awareness and creating fresh momentum in their lives.
So far, the three clubs have attracted nearly 100 female migrant workers. For the upcoming Tết (Lunar New Year) festival, they presented 20 poor female migrant workers with gifts worth VNĐ8 million (US$350).
Quảng Ninh okays sand exploitation for aquaculture
Quảng Ninh Province will allow Vân Đồn Island District to resume its exploitation of sand mixed with pieces of coral and oysters, to serve the needs of local aquaculture farmers.
Early last year, the northern province’s people’s committee had tightened control over mineral resources, including sand, and had banned the exploitation of sand mixed with pieces of coral and oysters for aquaculture.
Soon after, the sand became scarce, and since then farmers have been struggling to procure sand for aquaculture, especially for breeding bivalve species such as clam and oysters. More than 500 households in the district said they had been affected by the sand shortage.
Nguyễn Thị Bảy, a farmer from Ngọc Vừng Island Commune, said the price of 140 cubic metre vessel of sand jumped up from VNĐ14 million (US$622) to VNĐ16 million ($711). There was also not enough sand to meet the demand.
The Vân Đồn Island District authority had reported the situation to the provincial authority, and now received permission to resume exploitation.
Farmers from Vân Đồn Island District will be allowed to do sand exploitation in a five-hectare area in Vạn Yên Commune’s Tây Bắc Hòn Chín and can extract a maximum of 142,000 cubic metres of sand. Quang Minh Co. Ltd. will be assigned to collect sand this year.
The provincial people’s committee has said that the district would not permit sand exploitation for trading.   
The provincial natural resources and environment department will be in charge of inspecting the sand exploitation activities and taking appropriate steps for environmental protection and security.
Vietnam to change landline codes in Danang, Hue this weekend
Vietnam will change the landline telephone area codes in Danang and 12 central and northern mountainous provinces from February 5, the first step in a long-term plan to simplify the country’s telecommunications network.
The codes will start with a “2” and be either two or three digits long. Callers will be required to dial the new area code (plus the 7-digit number) to place a domestic call.
Also on the list are Quang Nam and Thua Thien-Hue, home to popular resort towns Hoi An and Hue.
Later phases finishing in August will change the codes in another 46 localities including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The codes in Vinh Phuc (211), Phu Tho (21), Hoa Binh (18) and Ha Giang (19) in northern Vietnam will remain the same.
Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan said that people’s existing phone numbers will remain the same and there won’t be any changes to calls between fixed line numbers within the same province.
However, the changes will affect calls between different provinces and incoming calls from mobile phones and foreign countries to a fixed line number in Vietnam, Tuan said. In these cases, callers will be required to use the new area codes.
Vietnam constructed its first repository of phone numbers in 2006 after eliminating a monopoly in the telecommunications sector, but the area codes and network codes of the previous networks have been left unchanged to avoid confusion.
The ministry hopes that the area code change will solve inconsistencies in Vietnam’s area code system without having a big impact on Vietnam’s telecom traffic and users.
Reports on Vietnam’s telecoms sector show that inter-provincial calls and mobile and international calls to fixed landlines in Vietnam only account for 1.6% of the country’s total telecom traffic.
The ministry said the changes will be the first step in a long-term plan to reduce the number of area codes from 63 to only 10. Under the plan, adjacent provinces and cities will be grouped into regions with one area code. This should make the telecom network easier to manage, while people living in provinces with same area code will enjoy lower call rates.
Old Area Code
New Area Code
Son La
Lai Chau
Lao Cai
Dien Bien
Yen Bai
Quang Binh
Quang Tri
Thua Thien-Hue
Quang Nam
Thanh Hoa
Nghe An
Ha Tinh

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