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Vietnam has 90 million people in a country not much bigger than New Zealand and is one of the fastest growing economies worldwide. However, rural communities in a province called Cao Bang, which ChildFund New Zealand supports, have not benefited much from this economic growth. 

  • The Community
  • Stories from Vietnam
  • Achievements

Welcome to Cao Bang, Vietnam

You will not find a more beautiful place than Cao Bang, Vietnam. Great chunks of land rise like giant blue anthills from emerald green plains. Raised wooden huts with thatch roofs are dotted here and there in a scene that looks lush and lovely. It is hard to believe that there is malnutrition here, and that people starve for some months of the year. Or that children are stunted in growth and brain development because they can’t get enough to eat.

This is changing now that ChildFund and the local community are working together to improve irrigation and farming techniques. Mothers are also learning about ways to introduce the necessary vitamins and minerals into their family’s food – introducing protein, for instance, by gathering a certain, tasty kind of grub, and collecting different leaves as greens to add to their rice.

An 18 month old boy is weighed at the health centre Cao Bang is mountainous and has extremes of temperature Children have to wrap up warmly in winter Improving health and education services is essential Vietnamese children Over 2 million tourists visit each year, but few see the poverty Rice is a staple food for Vietnamese people

Most homes in Cao Bang are built on raised platforms with animals housed below the living quarters. The presence of cows and pigs can be heard and smelt through cracks in the roughly-built floor. A smokey fire inside the living quarters adds a layer of soot to most surfaces, and coats the lungs of the home’s inhabitants causing frequent breathing disorders.

Until ChildFund ran courses in sanitation and built tanks and pipelines, homes had no toilets or running water. Now, people no longer have to ‘go’ under the house or in the fields. Most people have built their own toilets and have taps at a nearby water point where they can obtain the water needed for their families and animals. Crop irrigation is another story, but ChildFund has also been active in installing irrigation channels that will allow families to plant two crops a year. This will mean people no longer go hungry in the dry season when they simply can’t get enough water to the fields for crops to grow.

What’s on Cao Bang’s community plan: Healthcare centres, classrooms and teaching resources, training farmers and youth in farming techniques and irrigation canal construction, new and upgraded water supply systems, HIV/AIDs education with youth.

  • 29 May, 2015

    Experience makes a great teacher

    Angela and Warwick Hill-Rennie have been child sponsors for over fifteen years. At the start of this year, they decided to sponsor another child, Le in Vietnam, who is very close to their daughter Simone’s age. They also decided to travel, as a family, to meet Le. Warwick shares his experience...

  • 26 November, 2014

    Experience makes a great teacher

    Angela and Warwick Hill-Rennie have been child sponsors for over fifteen years. At the start of this year, they decided to sponsor another child, Le in Vietnam, who is very close to their daughter Simone’s age. They also decided to travel, as a family, to meet Le. Warwick shares his experience...

  • 09 May, 2014

    Kiwi kids meet Vietnamese 'sisters'

    Expats Kiwis Robyn Gulliver and Simon Jones wanted their two young boys to see that life in other countries is very different to the one they lead in Australia, and to meet the two girls who they only knew through sponsorship letters. Robyn tells us of the family’s journey. 

  • 11 December, 2013

    Messages from New Zealand help keep children clean and safe

    This year we asked caring Kiwis to send posters to children overseas, filled with messages of love and how to stay clean and safe.  Washing hands properly, boiling water, using the toilet, and washing veggies in clean water are simple messages that can help prevent children from getting sick.Th...

  • 11 October, 2013

    High hopes for Hong in Vietnam

    James Scullin has been a generous ChildFund sponsor for 20 years, and recently he travelled to Vietnam to visit his 14-year-old sponsored child, Hong, and see first-hand the difference his sponsorship makes. He shares his heartwarming story.   In the 1990s, I made the conscious decision to sp...

  • 13 June, 2013

    Children in Vietnam are now healthy and strong

    In June 2012, we asked for urgent help to protect babies and toddlers in Cao Bang province, Vietnam, from the threat of malnutrition.   One year after ChildFund Ambassador and actress Danielle Cormack visited 3 year old Danh, his brother Bao and his parents, ChildFund staff return t...

  • 24 December, 2012

    Harvesting success in Vietnam

    A new irrigation system in northern Vietnam is allowing families to grow two crops per year rather than one, ensuring that they can provide sufficient food for their children. Previously, crops could not be watered during the dry season, so for much of the year, food supplies were scarce, contributi...

  • 23 August, 2012

    Improving lives in Vietnam

    Dinh is a father of 6 living in Cao Bang, a province of Vietnam. He tells us about his life and how ChildFund New Zealand has helped him and his children:"We have a hard life as a big family. We lack land and capital for agriculture and funds for my children’s study. My normal day is busy with...

  • 16 August, 2012

    A Memorable Visit

    Child sponsor Stephen Gibson describes his family’s recent visit to Vietnam and the experience of meeting their sponsored child Chi for the first time.   My family and I arrived in Vietnam for a three week trip. This was our first trip to the country and like anyone else we had our own se...

  • 06 August, 2012

    Building Toilets is Lifesaving Work

    Earlier this year we asked Kiwis to help raise money to build toilets for families who have none.Together we raised $73,813 to build toilets and ensure safe water supply in the communities where ChildFund works in Kenya, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Zambia, and Vietnam.Last year we began working in Cao B...

Growing Healthy Children
A new health clinic in the very northern part of Vietnam is helping mums and their children to receive the medical care they need. Many children in this mountainous area, called Cao Bang, do not get enough food to eat so they get sick. Free health check-ups can identify malnourished children so that they can receive the vitamins they need to grow up healthy and strong. ChildFund has helped to reduce childhood malnutrition from 44% to 36% and will continue to decrease it by working closely with parents and health centres. Better nutrition means stronger immune systems, less illness and the ability to learn better.

A Hand-Up for Parents
Over 2,300 farmers have been taught modern farming methods and ChildFund has built 8,035 metres of irrigation canals so that crops can be grown in the dry season. The amount of rice that farmers harvest from their land has increased by 76% because of training in modern farming methods. Maize productivity has also increased by 78%. This means that farmers can provide their families with more food or sell it to earn an income.


Nguyen, a 20 year old farmer, said, ‘This year the project came to teach us how to grow rice and it was said by the villagers to be an effective model. Children in my village will no longer suffer from malnutrition.’

Clean Water
Many schools and households don’t have access to clean water in Cao Bang. ChildFund New Zealand has built a water system for 163 families and 11 schools. The proportion of families experiencing water shortages has reduced from 40% to 19%. Almost 1000 families were supported to construct their own toilets, increasing the proportion of households with a safe sanitation facility from 7% to 75%. The new water systems and toilets prevent children getting sick from diseases such as diarrhoea, and reduce the amount of time that families spend collecting water from streams or springs.

Child Protection
Children’s clubs have been set up with sports equipment and books so that children can study and play after school together, even if their school is far away. Parents have been taught how to prevent their children from being injured because Cao Bang is full of hazards for children such as rivers and steep cliffs. By working together with parents, ChildFund New Zealand is keeping kids healthy and safe.