January 16, 2019 10:49 PM
January 16, 2019 10:49 PM
04/11/2007 10:22
A new road “of the people, by the people, for the people”
PAR strengthens grassroots democracy
Mr. Nguyen Chi Thanh’s house sits right next to a new road in An Huu Huu commune, Hoai An District, Binh Dinh Province. This newly constructed road is wide and made of solid concrete allowing lorry drivers to go directly to farmers’ houses to buy paddy during the harvest season, saving transportation costs.

With the road construction, many farmers of the commune are now able to use wheelbarrows or motorised carts to carry fertilizer to their rice fields, instead of on their shoulders as before. Children do not have to worry about rainy days making the road to school muddy. And the road has become a natural place for drying rice out after harvesting, which helps preserve the rice. People are becoming better off and with a cleaner environment many families are building new houses.

Mr. Thanh remembered six years ago when a policy on mobilizing citizens’ labor to construct a communal road was passed by the provincial government. At that time, most inhabitants of his Xuan Son hamlet worried about the feasibility of the initiative. Though supplied with 150 tones of cement by the province and 20 million VND by the district for each kilometer of concrete road construction, the people still had to contribute an equivalent amount, around 160 million VND per kilometer of road. This was a huge amount for farmers in such an extremely poor hamlet, and the inhabitants had concerns about how their financial contributions would be used for the road construction. This doubt has been eliminated, however, thanks to the good policies initiated by the government of Binh Dinh Province.

Having defined grassroots democracy as one of key issues in PAR implementation, the local government has applied this Decree, which empowers citizens to be more involved in decision making for local affairs and projects.

For example, rather than imposing a plan developed by the top leaders, the new system allows people to participate right from the first stage of the road construction – planning. The people also determine how, and how much each person/family will contribute, and also carefully monitor and evaluate the quality of construction. To facilitate administrative procedures, the provincial government has issued a road design template, which assists communes by providing information on the various steps of road construction. The provincial government also revoked other cumbersome procedures on investment and financial payments, while district and communal governments act simply as consultants.

Under this new system of local autonomy, farmers of the Xuan Son hamlet have been actively contributing both their money and labor to have the first three kilometers of road constructed.

“The most important thing is to make the people believe. When they have the right to decide something themselves, they are enthusiastic and ardently contribute their money and labor. And now people can clearly see how the effective it is”, explained Mr. Thanh

The sound policy of the provincial government has become a catalyst for local road construction in many places. The target of 735 kilometers of paved inter-communal roads for the year 2005 was reached by late 2003. And despite the fact that the province stopped supplying cement in late 2005, many hamlets and villages still built their own road using their own money.
A new road “of the people, by the people, for the people”With the road construction, many farmers of the commune are now able to use wheelbarrows or motorised carts to carry fertilizer to their rice fields, instead of on their shoulders as before. Children do not have to worry about rainy days making the road to
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