Empowering ethnic minority women through a clean, safe and low carbon livestock breeding and forest protection microfinance program - Vietnam

The Microfinance and Community Development Institute is providing microfinance loans for low-polluting pig breeding to benefit ethnic communities and reduce deforestation in Vietnam. Based on probiotic technology, the program has improved health and prospects for marginalized populations, while reducing pollution including greenhouse gas emissions.

Fast facts:

  • 6,000 poor women reached
  • 50,000 hectares forested
  • 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases

The problem

Vietnam has more than 50 ethnic groups, many of whom live in or near forests, where trees are cut for wood and to create more arable land. But cutting down the forests is leading to water scarcity and flooding. And as the forests go, not only is carbon storage capacity lost, but land degradation creates a vicious cycle that disproportionately affects poor, ethnic minority women.


Such women rely on agriculture, including breeding livestock like pigs for cash – which creates additional environmental problems of large amounts of solid waste and greenhouse gases. Pig farming practices also create unsanitary conditions that cause health risks.


The solution

This project is providing technical and financial solutions for poor women in forest-based communities of Vietnam. The project promotes an organic pig-breeding technique based on fermentation: Pigs are raised on top of “cushions” containing low-cost materials, such as rice husk, that are mixed with microbiological agents and a layer of fermented liquid. The active probiotics trigger a biological process that breaks down animal waste, removing odors, flies, and pathogens. This method saves 80 percent of water, 60 percent of human labor, 10 percent of feed, and 45 percent of the cost compared to conventional pig raising.

Helping the planet

Enhancing the efficiency of pig farming reduces the push to clear forests for agriculture, preventing further deforestation while conserving other natural resources like freshwater. The fermented cushions promote reuse of organic farming waste, decrease solid waste, and reduce pollution, thereby improving land and water quality.

Air pollution is also cut, including potent greenhouse gases: In one year, the program reduced emissions by about 2,300 tons of carbon dioxide, 3,700 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 5,800 tons of mono-nitrogen oxides. The financing scheme encourages people to protect the forests instead of exploiting them, and the area it’s active in has reforested to some extent, increasing its carbon absorption capacity.


Helping people

Women who tap microfinancing for probiotic-enhanced livestock breeding have more secure work and incomes. The altered practices have reduced spread of water-borne disease and parasitic infections, including among children. Better land, air, and water quality allows the ethnic Vietnamese communities as a whole to benefit from a cleaner and healthier environment.


Spillover effect

The probiotic pig-farming technology used in this project is cheap and easy to replicate. Capital grows as the women pay back the small loans, allowing ever more loans to be granted. The project has operated profitably since its formation, showing how its scale can gradually be increased.



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