DM2009 team member Alexandra Humme shares this story:
During our live webcast on Wednesday (Nov. 11) I interviewed Dr. Tran Triet from Vietnam. He is a juror at this year's Development Marketplace. But six years ago, he was one of the finalists and eventually a winner of the 2003 Development Marketplace on Biodiversity. Dr. Tran comes from Phu My Village in Kien Giang Province, a small place located in the southwest corner of Vietnam, close to Cambodia.
Phu My Village is home to 5,000-acre wetland which supports a vast grassland ecosystem of the Mekong River Delta. The Phu My wetland is not only important for bioddiversity
conservation but also provides an economic base to the Khmer ethnic minority who harvest Lepironia (photo at right) for production of woven goods.
In 2003, Dr. Tran, who is working for the Crane Foundation in Vietnam and also is with Vietnam National University in Ho Chi Minh City, presented the "Ha Tien - Habitats - Handbags" project which protects this important wetland by implementing an innovative model that combines nature conservation with improving daily income of local people whose livelihood depends on harvesting natural resources from the wetland.
The project provided skill training to enable local people to make fine handicraft products like hats and handbags from the Lepironia sedge they harvested. The project also assists local community in marketing and selling their products to higher-value tourist and export markets.
With the Development Marketplace award of about US$ 200,000, the project was able to expand its work and eventually