February 23, 2004



New Zealand Aid For Vietnam's Bird Flu Hit Farmers


The New Zealand government's aid agency NZAID said it will donate US$140,00 to fund CARE International, a global aid agency, to carry out a year-long project to help farming families in Vietnam's Binh Dinh province recover from the loss of their livestock and livelihoods.


Efforts will also focus on trying to prevent human contamination through the disinfection of other stock, and promoting safe handling practices.


Vietnam is the worst hit of the Asian countries affected by the fast-moving avian flu, with 15 people confirmed dead and poultry in almost all of the country's 64 provinces known to be infected with the virus.


Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai said Saturday his country's outbreak was under control.


"The important thing is cooperating with Thailand in finding the reason of how and why bird flu arose," he said. "Once we know, we'll find a way to solve the problem easier, especially finding a vaccine to eliminate the disease."


NZAID development program manager for Vietnam, Jane Coster, said the effects of culling millions of birds this month would be potentially devastating for farmers in Binh Dinh province, which is hard-hit but still free of known human contamination.


"Many Vietnam farmers raise nothing but poultry. These farmers have already lost more than a million birds to the flu, and once the widespread culling begins, their livelihoods will be completely threatened," Coster said in a statement.