Vietnam fell victim to the series of Cold War conflicts with France, Japan, and the United States starting in World War II stemming to the early 1970’s, resulting in heavy UXO and landmine contamination. The U.S. joined the hostilities in order to stifle the “domino effect” of successive countries falling to communism affecting the Ha Tinh, Quang Tri, and Quang Binh provinces the most. In addition, the border with Laos is severely contaminated as a result of intense U.S. bombings in that area during the Vietnam War in an effort to quell North Vietnamese troops and supplies lines.
In the 1980’s market forces were slowly introduced, while maintaining tight control by the communist political party. This led to significant growth, making Vietnam one of southeast Asia’s fast growing economies. In 2007, Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). Vietnam’s socio-economic indicators are generally much higher than many of its neighbors such as Laos and Cambodia, pointing to a more stable and prosperous society.
However, this growth is marred by political oppression, severe UXO contamination and the ruling communist party which has been accused of suppressing political dissent and religious freedom. With economic growth has also come increased demand for land to use for for new housing, new roads and infrastructure, all of which can only be persued after land clearance. There is also increasing pressure to further expand agricultural enterprises, particularly with increased food prices. The future of Vietnam is dependent on clearance of contaminated land, only then can the country truly start to take advantage of their growing economy.
U.S. State Department's Weapons Removal and Abatement office awards grants to MAG America to clear land for landmine affected communities around the world. Learn more about WRA and Vietnam here.