Life of Ja Rai people after resettlement

  • Ka Bay Village, where Ja Rai people living, is a resettled village belonging to Plei Krong hydropower plant in Ho Moong commune, Sa Thay district of Kon Tum province. 10 years after the resettlement, Ka Bay villagers are still facing numerous challenges, including losing traditional livelihoods and habits, shortage of land for cultivation and animal keeping, and lack of water for daily use and irrigation. Major income comes from working as labourers .
    Hunger due to lacking of production  land
    The villagers were allocated from 1 to 1.2 ha of production land for each resettled household. However, the allocated land is infertile to grow rice. Instead,  the farmers plant cassava with low productivity and poor quality. Monoculture of cassava has been being worsening bio-diversity system, soil erosion. This is an alarm in Central Highland affecting practical and long term livelihood of the farmers. However, they have no choice for their daily life, cassava production is still going on.  The living is getting more difficult. The villagers often have to sell cassava for rice. The price of cassava is low. It is about 1000 VND/kg (Fresh) and 2000 VND-2,500 VND/kg (dried). The farmers can produce 20 tons/ha with fertiled soil ( equivalent about 10 tons (dried)/ha. In reality, there are only 50% of the households having good land.
    A’Diu, LandNet coordinator and the village leader said “The number of households increased from 126 to 205 households due to separation from parents’ homes and migration. There are 71 households who are newly separated are lacking of production land. Their lives rely on their parents’ lands and they have to work as labourers for private companies with low payments, although they work with heard jobs such as transportation, soil preparation, planting trees, etc,... they are paid 80.000 VND/day/woman. It is about 120.000 VND/day/man for hearder work, they said. There are 100 households suffering hunger”.

    Life is hard after resettlement
    A’Diu also shared “We feel so annoyed because this resettlement area much differs from our original land. This area is remaing bombs from Sac Ly mountain. Our people are afraid of the bombs. During the war, the mountain was occupied by the opponent soldiers. There were two people got serious injuries because of the bombs. In addition, the poor and polluted soil causes exotic diseases. People suffer a lot from these diseases as they do not have enough money to go to hospitals.
    Missing of home garden causes loss of traditional livelihoods and culture. 
    Plei Krong Hydropower Plant Company was in charge of designing and constructing houses for the resettled households. They did not ask the villagers what we concern and we need for our traditional living.  They designed house to house closely with no garden like city houses which are not familier with our traditional lifestyle. Our traditional culture is different. We have our traditional house with gardens, livestock raising around the house and we feel very warm life with those farming. But it no longer exists as there are no home gardens. Each household get 400 m2  for living. Mr. A’Thut, Ro Ngao people, LandNet member, said “We can’t see it difference between house to house. Thus, when we come  back home from drinking we often enter to other home and got yelled by their wives”.

    Although having new homes, Ka Bay villagers still engage their lives with the traditional community house
    This story is quite heavy for those who understands values of traditional culture of ethnic minority people. So, we think this is a thoughful question for resettlement programmes to re-think approach that are adapted for local villagers.
    8/2015, CIRUM