[Excerpt] Infrastructure projects and road networks have he potential to catalyze socioeconomic change. hey yield economic prospects for neighboring communities, enhance higher-value agricultural and industrial investment, and improve access to markets as well as health and social services.
Unfortunately, such projects also entail risks. Residents are often excluded from the benefits either because they lack awareness of the opportunities or they lack the skills that could make them direct beneficiaries. Additionally, as is frequently observed, residents can become vulnerable to unforeseen risks, such as human trafficking and the spread of HIV, which can result from the increased physical connectivity.
Bearing in mind both the rewards and risks of large-scale infrastructure projects, the 16-month project “Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment— Strengthening Capacity of Women Along the Central Mekong Delta Connectivity Project Phase II” was designed to prepare local communities for both income opportunities and potential adverse impacts with the forthcoming road construction in Dong Thap Province, in southern Viet Nam. With a total budget of $400,000, the project began in June 2012 targeting women, both those who are married and younger single women who might out-migrate for employment.
The project set out to improve income-generating opportunities for women, promote gender equality, and enhance awareness of the risks related to human trafficking and HIV in eight communes located in two districts (Cao Lanh and Thap Muoi). Specifically, women from low-income households were targeted with vocational skills training and access to credit and employment placements. Simultaneously, the project emphasized building up institutional capacities for improving livelihood opportunities for women that would endure beyond the project.