The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is helping with an extensive reconstruction programme in the north Vietnamese provinces of Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh and in the district of Vinh Linh.
GV PAN: workers and bullocks in fields
LV: workers along road carrying baskets
CU: bags of fertiliser
LV PAN and CU: grain growing
LV EXTERIOR: hand cart workshop in Vinh
CU: stack of metal wheels
SV and CU: bomb casings for use in forge (2 shots)
CU ZOOM OUT: blacksmith working in forge
SV and CU: workers hammering pieces of metal and welder in action
SV: woman hammering wheel
CU ZOOM OUT. man spinning wheel
LV PAN: worker pulling handcart full of reed matting along road
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Background: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is helping with an extensive reconstruction programme in the north Vietnamese provinces of Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh and in the district of Vinh Linh.
SYNOPSIS: The areas concerned were the worst affected by the Vietnam war. More than three million people now live there and up to 80 per cent of them are displaced persons. The task of reconstruction relies heavily on non-mechanized work such as the rebuilding of intricate irrigation networks and dykes in the fields, but because of a lack of wheelbarrows, buckets and handcarts much of the clearance work has to be done by people using baskets slung across their shoulders.
Because the land has lain fallow for so long large quantities of fertiliser have had to be brought in to revitalise it. Bringing it back to life is a slow process and is physically demanding on the agricultural workers - 60 per cent of them women. To try to make the task easier, a campaign has been initiated by the authorities to "Liberate the Shoulders" of women workers through the provision of handcarts and barrows. The present production capacity for such articles is only 500 a year - woefully inadequate. This is largely due to the lack of raw materials and outdated machinery.
But despite the setbacks, the people are not daunted and in the village of Vinh they are utilising every bit of scrap metal they can lay their hands on and turning it into wheels and farm implements. Old bomb casings have been picked up from far and near and are being melted down and recycled. The United Nations is also assisting by providing raw materials not available locally through governmental and other sources. Modern manufacturing equipment is also being installed and eventually it's hoped that more than 110,000 handcarts can be produced to supplement the 60,000 already in use throughout the region.
Rebuilding homes and roads and coaxing agricultural land back to life is being done in conjuction with the population's normal work routines. But few complaints are heard. Its a new way of life, particularly for the young, who until the war ended last year had known nothing but misery and hardship. A hard life, but a life building for the future.