The Public Accounts Committee delegation viewed several Irish Aid programmes, including the 'Safe School' in Quang Tri province.
A delegation from the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) visited Vietnam this week to review the accountability and effectiveness of the Irish Aid programme there.
The delegation was led by Vice Chairperson of the PAC, John Deasy, T.D. and included two other members, Derek Nolan, T.D. and Paul Connaughton, T.D. Over four days, the delegation visited several Irish Aid programmes and met with key Vietnamese government officials.
In the central province of Quang Tri, the delegation met with local communities benefitting from the Government of Vietnam’s Poverty Reduction Programme for ethnic minorities and mountainous areas, or Programme 135. Programme 135 targets some of the poorest and most marginalised communities in Vietnam, through support to improved agricultural production; improved access to better quality education and health services; and basic community infrastructure. Irish Aid funding is targeted to community infrastructure, such as rural road connections, commune centres, school rooms, clinics, etc. in nine provinces.
The PAC delegation visited the Vinh O commune, a remote commune about 70kms from the provincial capital, where ethnic minorities account for over 97% of the population, mainly from the Van Kieu ethnic group. There, they saw some of the infrastructure built through P135, including a health clinic and a rural road built with funding from Irish Aid. The PAC delegation met with the local community and the Provincial Authority who manage the programme.
The visit provided a valuable opportunity to examine government financial and monitoring processes, and to underline the importance Ireland attaches to strong financial oversight of funding allocated through our aid programme, Irish Aid.
Also in Quang Tri province, the delegation visited a school under the ‘safe schools model’ supported by Irish Aid through Plan International. As Vietnam is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, there is a constant need to ‘climate-proof’ development programmes and to respond when natural disasters strike. The “safe school” facility protects against extreme storms and floods, and provides essential equipment such as emergency kits, life vests, rain coats, megaphones and first aid kits to School Rescue Volunteers. The PAC delegation visited a school in Dak Rong commune, and discussed the operation of the programme with teachers, students and parents.
The delegation also observed work undertaken by the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), which has been supported by Irish Aid since 2011. MAG has removed 100,000 items of unexploded ordnance (bombs, shells, grenades etc.) and 2,500 landmines. The clearance of land opens up opportunities for agriculture production, business development and community development.
In Ho Chi Minh city, the delegation met with Irish and Vietnamese business people to discuss recent developments in the Vietnamese economy and prospects for Irish trade with Vietnam. They visited the headquarters of Glandore Systems, the largest Irish company in Vietnam, employing 180 staff at their offices in Quang Trung Software City. They then met members of the Irish and Vietnamese business community to discuss the economic climate in Vietnam and opportunities for increasing links with Ireland in the area of education, aviation, and agrifoods.
Along with viewing various Irish Aid programmes, the PAC delegation met with key Vietnamese government officials.These included meetings with the Vice Chairman of Quang Tri province and the Quang Tri Provincial Authority, the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), the Committee for Financial and Budgetary Affairs of the National Assembly, the State Audit of Vietnam and the Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs. The meetings provided a valuable opportunity to examine government financial and monitoring processes, and to underline the importance Ireland attaches to strong financial oversight of funding allocated through our aid programme, Irish Aid.
A report on the visit will be made by the delegation and will be laid before both Houses in the Oireachtas Library. It will also be publicly available via the online catalogue on the Oireachtas website.