Jom Bunsiri

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What would you do if you had 30,000 USD to spend on developing a countryside village? What's your plan?

There are 87 families in the village. No paved road. No market. No farm. Not many people with university degree. No doctor. Not far from the highway. Electricity accessible. Public irrigation accessible. Most of the population are under 20 year-old. Trucks and buses run through the 300 miles highway without stop. Two small restaurants on the highway.

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    Oct 21 2011: - For my idea to work the villagers would continue existing as they are today while we set up demonstrational economic activities that they can adopt within 2 years
    - Establish and legally register a merry-go-round of each saving scheme of which every husband and wife and youth over 18 years old are members and share holders.
    - Donate $2,000 towards the set-up and administration costs
    - Employ the university graduates from the community as managers for this saving scheme.
    - Get the villagers to agree on a standard and comfortable weekly contribution to the scheme
    - Hire two agricultural experts to be stationed in the village, or alternatively sponsor some of the graduates from the community for training in farming techniques
    - Identify land that can be used for irrigation, commercial egg production, rearing of capons, pig rearing, rabbit rearing and fish farming.
    - Set up an egg production unit with 200 layers
    - Set up a capon production unit with 250 chickens
    - Set up a rabbit production unit with one buck and two does
    - Set up a pig sty for 30 pigs and stock with a one male and two females
    - Set up a fish pond capable of producing 250 units every three months
    All the above 5 ventures should cost around $6,000
    - $10,000 Cultivate 5 acres of land for horticultural production of tomatoes, cabbages, onions, paw paws, butter nuts, strawberries, French beans with the appropriate irrigation infrastructure inclusive of labour (use local labour)
    - $3,000 Establish a water purification and bottling unit in the village
    - Build a bus/truck stop next to the road by the restaurants
    - $3,000 build a dispensary and sanitary facilities near the two restaurants and hire a clinical officer. Set up two fresh produce shops next to the restaurants by the highway
    - $6,000 remains for contingency

    All the above economic activities are complimentary in food and fertiliser production. There is also a chance to interest the truck and buses in stopping adding to income.
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      Oct 21 2011: WoW. Thanks for your ideas!!

      There are many many interesting points. If the village implements all the ideas above, by that time, many more people would love to imigrate to the village. Since there are not many people in the village, I think 5 year plan might be appropriate speed of developments. Many points from you and the other comments are very useful, and I have already share these ideas with my team. We appreciate your time spent on ideas for the better society. Thank you!!
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    Oct 19 2011: - I would find out the local crops grown in the area.
    - Spend $4000 on seed
    - I would buy tools for the use of everyone in the community (shovels, rakes, hoes, axes, etc.)
    - I would then divide the land so that every ABLE BODIED person recieves land at the age of 18. When you are too old to work or too young to work you can live with your family or at a small town house with free food.
    - I would by a few horses, cows, ox, etc. for farming use only
    - I would use the rakes to create dirt roads then find small stones to place ontop of the roads
    - I would buy electric wires that ran to the power source (underground if the source is close)
    - I would use the electricity to pump water and irrigate the fields
    - I would buy a computer and apply for grants explaining what I'm trying to do and how this is a research project that needs to be funded more.
    - I would try to get a few medical books about how to treat wounds and common diseases as well as set up a volunteer medical program where a doctor would come vist every other week.
    - I would create signs to attract people on the highway to go to my village and hopefully collect some income.

    Are there already houses built?
    What is the season when we start the colonization of this town?
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      Oct 20 2011: There is no horse, pig, cow, but a few chickens. As one developer from Thailand told me, it would be the best for them to start with agriculture. However, the village needs knowledge of how to farm. But another developer said that firstly, we need to be sure if the villagers know to enjoy money value or not since they have lived independently from money for many years. As for me, I think the teenagers in the village want to enjoy city life, but they have no money. This might be a trigger that makes them pushing themselves for money from developments of their village.
      • Oct 22 2011: This is very wise. There must be incentives to keep them in the village to help their families. (edit) I do honestly believe that first priorities should not be "earn money" but improve life. There is time enough to do some things that might earn cash.
  • Oct 19 2011: Jom
    I totally agree with you on focussing on the basics for a project like this. $30K US can go a long way if applied correctly. Here are some thoughts about what I would do:

    1) Do a complete socio-economic census of the village (If you can get volunteers like from a local university great)
    2) From the census determine the strategic need under an umbrella of seeking a higher quality of life for the people: guaranteed access to: food, water, shelter, medical attention
    3) Set up some sort of communal food production in the area: use $5K to buy seed, then small farm animals to be used in a production/consumption chain (from the litter or hatching people have to share a reproductive pair with other families) Gurantee every family at least a garden plot. Supply some sort of system to use the irrigation water for the family plots.
    4) Spend $ to run a clean water line from the road to the village. Set up communal clean water faucets accessible to all.
    5) Dig latrines for hygiene for each family
    6) From the census, set a priority list for improving homes in the village so that everyone has clean shelter.
    7) Build a house in the village that can be used as a clinic. Seek out volunteer doctors who would be willing to visit once a month. Set up a small fund to buy basic medicines.
    8) Speak with the owners of the restaurants about selling some produce to them for cash

    Comments: Seeds for planting and small animals would be based on indigenous crops and animals, things people would eat. Much of the work should be done by men and women from the village itself, for example, digging the clean water line, digging latrines, repairing shelters. All of this with local labor help should be under the $30K.
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      Oct 20 2011: I agree with you, and especially on the local labor idea. That would save a lot of costs and people will also create sense of integrity among the villagers. And that will become important part for the village to grow in long term.
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    Oct 20 2011: In this development, we are not alone with the villagers.

    I think government's efforts to develop rural areas are good souces for expanding networks. For example: public medical projects, chamber of commerce's projects, labor development projects and etc. These networks may be very helpful in this village development and also make my team's project cost efficient. For my conclusion, networking might make $30K worth more than it is.
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    Oct 20 2011: Good plans lead to effective implementation and good results.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas!! This is a real case in Lao that I am taking part in. And it is at the very beginning. Your ideas are very useful and they will contribute to those people in the village. As I learn from your ideas, I find that creating self-sustaining system for the village is the main idea. And in order to push the system forward, there is another point that maybe helpful: assisting the teenagers to become leaders.
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      Oct 20 2011: That is very true, teenagers should step up into leadership and begin to share their ideas about improvements at a low cost. I was hoping that because the teenagers were on a farm and were "forced" into responsibility for their food, animals, livelyhood, etc. that they would become responsible adults who contribute to the community.
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        Oct 20 2011: I hope that my team could catch intrinsic motivations of these teens, so we can move forward with a very effective plan.
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    Oct 19 2011: I was suggested by a friend to consider on four basic things that the village should have: food, shelter, cloth and medicines. And the followings are agriculture, jobs and basic finance. I agree with my friend on starting from basic elements of making a village prospered. Besides, 30,000 USD cannot be spent on a big infrastructure project. Therefore, it should be used to enhance the basics.