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Seminar: Results from Qualitative Study on Social Impact of Rural Electrification in Hoa Binh Province (Mar 13, 2012)

On 27 April 2011 in Hanoi, Institute for Family and Gender Studies (IFGS) organized the seminar introducing results from a Qualitative Survey on the Effect of Rural Electrification conducted in two communes of Kim Tien and Binh Thanh in Hoa Binh province. Participants included researchers from IFGS, Institute of Sociology (IOS), Institute of Energy, Department of Energy (Ministry of Industry and Commerce), Institute of Educational Science (Ministry of Education and Training), Institute of Health Strategy and Policy (Ministry of Health), Vietnam Farmers’ Union, Vietnam Women’s Union… and local officers of two surveyed communes.

On introducing about the survey, Associate Prof., Dr. Nguyen Huu Minh said: in April 2010, a group of researchers from IFGS and IOS conducted qualitative survey in Kim Tien and Binh Thanh communes to provide supplement to quantitative analyses that were done here in 2002, 2005 and 2008. In April 2011, research team came back to these two communes and continued qualitative survey to study changes in the lives of local people after a year in terms of economics, education, health care, cultural life, recreation, support for the poor and gender relations under the influence of electrification. Results from the survey indicate some remarkable things as follows:

• Electrification has positive influence on economic transformation, increase in income, and improvement of material life of local people

Electrification reduced labor that local people spent on agricultural activities dramatically. Electric rice plucking and rice husking machines replaced previous time-wasting manual labor work. With availability of electricity, small scale industries have been expanded and developed, some women in Kim Tien have done extra jobs like running variety shop, tailor shop, restaurants, rice husking service, making tofu, running sawing workshops, making toothpicks and weaving bamboo mats, etc. Since electricity was made available, gender relation has also been changed. Women takes less time and effort to do housework and men do not hesitate to do cooking any more.

• Rural Electrification has brought a lot of benefits for children’s study

There are electric fans for pupils in summer and when all the doors and windows are closed in winter, there are electric lamps for lighting. Lectures are more interesting thanks to the use of CD player, overhead projectors, computers and speakers. A lot of materials have been computerized to make it easier for pupils to study like pictures, video clips related to lectures, community activities and traffic safety…

It is also more convenient for teachers to give lectures and prepare teaching plans with the use of computers. Availability of electricity is very necessary for teachers to teach English and computer skill. At school, computers are connected to internet for teachers to search information for their lectures and the board to deal with management and statistic reports.

• Electrification has positive influence on people’s enjoyment of culture

With the use of television and radio, people can access plenty of information sources. Programs like the news, economic, cultural, social, scientific and technological, health care programs… give them good conditions to improve their knowledge in all the fields.

Community meetings and meetings of unions can be organized and held conveniently because their schedules are widely announced on public loudspeaker system; and they are held in suitable time during busy harvest as there are not any obstacles of darkness or hot weather any more. Cultural activities of the youth are more exciting thanks to the use of speakers, amplifier, electricity for decoration, karaoke…

• Electrification has positive influence on health care for people

Simple equipment like fan, water pump, lamp and important medical equipment like sterilizing box, spotlight for gynaecological examination… have improved quality of medical examination and treatment of the medical stations, so health care for people has become better and people’s trust for the services has improved.

It is also easier to propagandize prevention of diseases and epidemics. Public loudspeaker systems and CDs for propagation have been under operation, which is good for application in general, especially in reproductive health care, population and birth control.

• Despite progresses, Electrification has not brought all of its effect into play

Pattern of electricity use is still simple, especially in poor households: 1 or 2 lamps, 1 fan, 1 television set, 1 electric rice cooker (people often have to stop using it due to weak electric supply). Electricity is mainly consumed for daily life of households. Proportion of electricity used for business and production is not high. There has not been breakthrough in expansion of occupational structures in the two communes.

Due to rapid increase in the demand for electricity, systems of electric poles and cables are becoming overloaded. When electricity is available but often cut off, it is difficult for people to do production.

All the participants at the seminar expected that the project would have better resources of human, time and material in order to better clarify influences of electrification and increase the effect of electrification on improving life of rural people.

Nguyen Duc Tuyen

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