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Community customary and statutory forest land: local responses

In Vietnam there is a traditional game leo cột mỡ, (literally climbing the fatty column) often played at festivals. Several tall poles are placed in the ground and then covered in oil or fat or mud to make them very slippery. On top of the pole may be placed prizes, or in a more traditional version, pots of water. The objective of course is to reach the top. As the contestants struggle to make their way up, so the pole tends to sway, spilling water making the pole even more slippery and the climb even more difficult.

So can be seen the struggle by ethnic minorities in Vietnam for their land rights. The obstacles constantly placed in their way make their likelihood of regaining their traditional lands and forest more and more difficult. Their only chance is to try to band together and hoist each other up. For the well connected and well off, however, those who can adhere to expensive and complicated regulations and procedures, the path to acquiring land has been relatively simple. No slippery pole for them.


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