Coc San communities thrive

/Coc San community/Coc_San_community_KarenOn a recent visit to the Coc San Hydropower Project, InfraCo Asia’s Investment Manager, Karen Tsang-Hounsell saw a project in full bloom, and the fruits of early labours paying off in local communities. She met with farmers, teachers and school children benefiting not just because of access to more affordable, reliable energy, but due to the care and respect shown to their livelihoods.

By providing development expertise and funding of US$7.54M, InfraCo Asia enabled the financing and completion of this US$49.9M project.

Twelve months after reaching commercial operation, the 29.7MW Coc San Hydropower project sits nestled into the green hills and terraced rice paddies of northern Vietnam’s Lao Cai Province. To those communities living around the project site, it has simply become part of the scenery.

/Coc San community/Coc_San_Dam_Apr_2017As the run-of-river project was developed to strict World Bank development standards and stringent environmental protocol, little land was lost to communities living in the project surrounds, and none were displaced from their homes. InfraCo Asia’s work provides social and economic benefit to some of the poorest communities in South and South East Asia, so it was only natural to step beyond the process of developing a hydropower project, and look at ways to bring added benefit to local communities.

/Coc San community/Coc_San_community_goatsOn Karen Tsang-Hounsell’s recent visit to Coc San, some of these benefits were walking around on four legs, with breeding sows and goats with kids having recently been provided to families in the Tong Sanh Commune, along with training for locals as part of a livestock breeding program. In 2015, InfraCo Asia along with Coc San project operator, Lao Cai Renewable Energy (LCRE) initiated the Community Development Program, which has developed access roads, rehabilitated schools and assisted with irrigation and crop cultivation. 

/Coc San community/Coc_San_schoolThe Livelihoods Restoration Program was established to assist people who sacrificed land for the project, to reinstate income-producing activities, which has included raising animals and crop diversification. Training in construction was provided, along with scholarships for children to attend school and purchase books and uniforms. The local school integrates a kindergarten and a primary school, as well as enabling boarding for 11-15 year old children through the week, whose families live further away.

“It was wonderful to have the opportunity to walk around the local school, and meet teachers and students. LCRE provides a budget of US$1000 which provides scholarships for a number of students to buy books, stationery and other school supplies,” Karen explained.

/Coc San community/Coc_San_community_pig_and_chicken“Of course the Coc San project has very clear benefits in the form of providing access to more reliable, affordable and sustainable clean energy supplied into the grid,” she said.

“These supplementary initiatives we have supported provide a very holistic benefit to communities. It is wonderful to see that we have helped local residents to increase their income through growing higher yielding crops and enabling them to take their produce to market via access roads we have built.

"It’s extremely fulfilling to be part of an organisation where you can see a tangible difference being made in communities such as the Tong Sanh Commune.” Karen said.