23. March 2022

Training on Grassroots Mediation and Policy Advocacy in Hoa Binh and Cao Bang

Helvetas Vietnam and LANDA/CCRD are co-implementing a training program to improve capacity for members of local social-civil organizations and mediation groups at the grassroots level in Hoa Binh and Cao Bang provinces. This is an activity within the project “Secure Land Rights for All - Giving Ethnic Minorities a Voice” (L4A) funded by the European Union (EU) with the aim of promoting effective management and monitoring of land and forest resource use for ethnic minorities in northern Vietnam.

Grassroots mediation is the first mechanism to resolve conflicts and disputes in localities. With the support of local Vietnam Fatherland Front Committees and its member organizations, grassroots mediation teams have made great contributions to conflict solving in local communities and are highly appreciated by the government and local people. Every year in Vietnam, the local mediators deal with hundreds of thousands of disputes, mostly land-related ones. With an average success rate of 82.7% (according to the Ministry of Justice, 2021), grassroots mediation has helped to reduce the number of cases that might have been submitted to authorities and courts for resolution, contributing to peace and stability of society, reducing pressure for local governments, and saving thousands of billion Vietnam dong for the state budget and the disputants. However, capacity building for grassroots mediators is inadequate and inequivalent among regions, and thus the effectiveness of mediation work is still limited, especially in remote and ethnic minority areas.  Mediation team members often lack legal knowledge, methods, and skills in mediation in general and land conflict reconciliation in particular.

In order to contribute to the effective monitoring and management of land and forest resource use in ethnic minority areas, particularly through enhancing land dispute resolution capacity and advocacy skills, the Project has developed and now been organizing a training program in 3 months (from mid-February to end of May 2022) for members of local social-civil organizations and grassroots mediation teams in Hoa Binh and Cao Bang. The trainers are experienced and highly capable experts of the Land Alliance (LANDA) and the partners who have completed the Project’s Training of Trainers (ToT) program. Some guest speakers who are local government officials and experienced mediators are also invited to join and share information, knowledge, and experience. 150 participants who are directly involved in grassroots mediation work in the Project areas are trained through 4 courses. Besides, 16 open consultation sessions in the targeted communes will be organized to create opportunities for more local people to participate and receive advice from experienced experts in land law and mediation.

Through the training courses, the participants are equipped with legal regulations on grassroots mediations, land-related mediation process, methods and skills, land policies for ethnic minorities as well as the skills to contribute to land policy development. The trainees will also learn how to communicate land laws to the local people, contributing to the increase of people’s awareness of land rights. In addition, the trainers will also guide and support the participants to develop an action plan for implementing community initiatives to improve land management and mediation practice in their localities. These initiatives will be funded by the Project.

The training program is now receiving good support from the local government and enthusiastic participation of the trainees. This is also an opportunity for the Project to better understand the difficulties of the localities in land management, thereby designing suitable activities to meet their needs.