Social Protection in VietnamAfter the end of the Vietnam War, Vietnam embarked on a remarkable economic and social transformation, becoming one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia. Many communities in Vietnam, nevertheless, still face poor living standards and social insecurity. Subsequently, social protection in Vietnam began gaining traction in hopes of supporting the country’s growing socioeconomic status. Over the past two decades, Vietnam’s social protection initiatives and programs have produced varying successes and failures. 

Social Protection in Vietnam

While Vietnam is a middle/upper middle-income country undergoing rapid socioeconomic development, social protection programs are still crucial to tackling relative poverty, social exclusion and increasing inequality. According to a 2019 World Bank report, the three main priorities of social protection are social insurance, social and welfare assistance and labor market programs.

Social protection aims to provide a safety net for individuals and households, protecting them from various risks and vulnerabilities. By addressing issues related to education, employment, health care, social welfare and poverty reduction, social protection in Vietnam seeks to enhance public well-being and quality of life and promote social cohesion within societies.

Successes and Achievements

Reports from the United Nations (U.N.) and the World Bank note rising access to social protection in Vietnam, such as education, health care, housing for the poor and disadvantaged, safe water, improved infrastructure, emergency relief, education and more.

The following are some of Vietnam’s developments in social protection:

  • Vietnam created the Employment and Vocational Training program, which provided jobs for about 320,000 individuals. 
  • Additionally, Vietnam Bank has lent micro-credit to more than 8.4 million people, mainly the poor and financially vulnerable.
  • The nation’s universal health insurance scheme currently covers 87% of the population, improving the quality of life for Vietnamese citizens. 
  • As of 2019, 99.4% of the population mainly relied on electricity as their main lighting source.
  • From 1993 to 2020, access to clean water in rural areas expanded from 17% to 51%. 
  • The nation boasts the second-highest average duration of (learning-adjusted) schooling among Southeast Asian countries at 10.2 years and achieves the highest human capital index of 0.69 among lower-middle-income economies, due to improved access to education. 

At the beginning of 2022, The Vietnamese Government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) began constructing a climate governance system, highlighting the country’s commitment to addressing climate change. The focus on streamlined policies, budgeting processes and climate finance planning demonstrates a proactive approach to achieving climate goals. The recognition of international support, including expertise, technology transfer and climate finance, showcases Vietnam’s determination to accelerate its green transition and ensure the sustainability of social protection in Vietnam.

Barriers and Challenges

Vietnam faces challenges due to the independent design and implementation of social protection and social insurance systems, resulting in coverage gaps, fragmentation and insufficient benefits. Consequently, Vietnam’s current social protection system fails to adequately protect children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

Many medical facilities in Vietnam operate under poor-resourced conditions: outdated facilities, chronic overcrowding and inadequate medical equipment. Furthermore, a shortage of qualified medical staff adds to the challenges, with doctors and nurses working under stressful conditions and receiving relatively low wages. Therefore, despite high health care insurance coverage in Vietnam, the quality of care remains inadequate and insufficient, particularly for impoverished, vulnerable groups. 

As stated in a 2016 Vietnamese Government and UNDP report, the social assistance transfer system offered limited coverage and minimal impact on poverty reduction. Social assistance transfers are government programs or initiatives to support individuals in extreme impoverishment through cash transfers, food assistance, housing subsidies, education grants, health care subsidies and more. Compared to other middle-income countries, the value of social transfers in Vietnam is minimal, undermining their potential impact on family well-being and economic growth. Delivery systems of social protection are undeveloped, with limited use of technology for implementation. The provision of social care services is inadequate, with a shortage of professional social workers and insufficient support for vulnerable individuals.

Improvements to Social Protection in Vietnam

Although Vietnam has made tremendous progress in social protection, challenges remain. There appears to be a need for the country to make additional efforts that aim to strengthen coordination among programs, expand coverage and benefits for vulnerable groups, improve health care infrastructure and education, enhance the capacity of social workers and health care professionals and mobilize resources and international support. Implementing these measures could reinforce Vietnam’s social protection system and ensure the well-being and inclusion of all its citizens.

– Freya Ngo
Photo: Flickr

quality of life in VietnamThe South Asian country of Vietnam has experienced vast improvements in its quality of life over the years. Proof of these improvements is abundant. In 2016, the Happy Planet Index Report found that Vietnam was the happiest country in Asia. Life expectancy in Vietnam also reflects a positive trend in the quality of life for the country. Life expectancy stands at 75.5 years, which is especially impressive when considering the U.S. life expectancy of 77.3 years. These are only a few examples of the positive improvements in quality of life in Vietnam. Thanks to the efforts of the Vietnamese government and other supporters abroad, Vietnam has been able to make several other improvements.

3 Improvements in Vietnam

  1. Better Health Care. One indicator of improving the quality of life in Vietnam is health care. The maternal mortality rate in Vietnam has reduced fourfold over recent years. The number of deaths among children younger than 5 has also reduced by half. Progress like this has become possible due to better access to reliable health care for Vietnamese people. However, work still needs to occur in many areas. For example, 100 children still die from preventable diseases every day in Vietnam. Fortunately, UNICEF is providing help to further improve health care and, as a result, improve the quality of life in Vietnam further. UNICEF provides its services to health care personnel throughout Vietnam so that they can provide better care to the Vietnamese people.
  2. Better Education. A better education system is yet another way of improving the quality of life in Vietnam. The Vietnamese government achieves this through several methods. One is by holding Vietnamese teachers to a high standard. Teachers in Vietnam must display their skills and knowledge at the standard the country outlines. Teachers also need to display professionalism. The government of Vietnam takes inspiration from other Asian countries that have exceptional education systems. The education in Singapore and South Korea has especially influenced Vietnam’s school curriculum.
  3. Decreasing Poverty for Minorities. One of the most important ways that the quality of life in Vietnam is improving is the reduced poverty rates among ethnic minorities. Much of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities live in the highland areas of Vietnam. These places are often rural, and about 72% of Vietnam’s low-income citizens reside there. Fortunately, the poverty rate for this group of people declined by 13% in 2018. Many solutions exist to help further improve the economic situation for the minorities living in the highland areas. One solution is for the ethnic minorities in the highlands to grow crops that will sell for more money than common crops. Many of the people living in the highlands already engage in farming, but they grow basic crops. Crops like coffee and rubber plants have higher monetary value, so farmers could start growing these.

All of these improvements help improve the quality of life in Vietnam in numerous ways. Better health care means longer lives for Vietnamese people, better education will lead to better job opportunities and alleviating poverty will improve living conditions among ethnic minorities.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Deforestation in VietnamVietnam is a Southeast Asian country along the east coast of the Indochinese Peninsula. Its tropical climate makes it a naturally biodiverse place, but deforestation in Vietnam threatens the livelihoods of citizens. In April 2021, USAID approved two new projects totaling $74 million to help fight deforestation in Vietnam and improve the lives of thousands of citizens in poverty who rely on forests to live.

Deforestation in Vietnam

Deforestation in Vietnam is very severe. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the South Vietnam Lowland Dry Forests region is the most degraded forest outside India. Despite being home to many endangered species, only 2% of the forests are designated as protected. Furthermore, about 90% of the forests are subject to deforestation. The U.N. emphasizes that protecting biodiversity and restoring previously exploited land will improve the quality of life for citizens in countries worldwide. Indigenous and rural communities, in particular, will benefit from reversing deforestation as the protection of forest resources decreases the economic vulnerability of these groups.

The Sustainable Forest Management Project

The USAID Sustainable Forest Management project partners with the Vietnamese Government, the Vietnam Forest Owner Association (VIFORA) and forest owners to minimize the impacts of deforestation in seven of Vietnam’s most affected provinces. The main objective of this project is to develop and enforce forest conservation policies. This includes funding to increase the Vietnamese Government’s ability to prosecute deforestation crimes.

Execution of this program also involves working with the authorities, private companies and local forest owners to extend the reach of the Payment for Forest Environmental Services program. This mechanism provides direct monetary compensation to residents for forest protection efforts. Strong partnerships between aid organizations and local implementers allow these programs to help the target populations build self-sufficiency effectively.

USAID allotted $36 million for this project. In addition to funding forest management policies, this program directly helps Vietnamese communities living in forest land by promoting sustainable lifestyle practices for forest dwellers.  An estimated 250,000 hectares of forest and 70 organizations will benefit from the program. The program will also benefit the 60,000 individuals living in Vietnam’s forests who are expected to have improved and more sustainable livelihoods.

The Biodiversity Conservation Project

The USAID Biodiversity Conservation project partners with the World Wildlife Fund to provide economical alternatives for activities that lead to Vietnam’s deforestation. The project focuses on substituting forest-harming industries with forest-preserving ones. The project has the potential to increase incomes for forest-dwelling communities while reversing deforestation in Vietnam. The Biodiversity Conservation project relies on strong partnerships with the Vietnamese Government and local organizations for effective implementation.

USAID allotted $38 million for this project, which will benefit 700,000 hectares of forest land. An additional 7,000 individuals living in Vietnam’s forests will also gain income opportunities from forest-friendly endeavors. In addition, 250 villages will receive increased protection of their natural environments with a 50% decrease in animal hunting and consumption.

Deforestation in Vietnam threatens the livelihoods of the most disadvantaged populations still living in forest land. Despite this vulnerability, the Vietnamese Government struggles to stop deforestation without foreign aid. USAID’s two projects not only fight deforestation but promote practices that will directly help lift forest dwellers out of poverty.

Viola Chow
Photo: Pixabay

Alleviate Poverty in Vietnam
Vietnam is one of the most populated Asian countries, with more than 90 million people calling the country home. With such a large population, poverty is unavoidable, especially in the rural parts of the country. Despite the ongoing problem of poverty, rural parts of Vietnam have been able to decrease the amount of poverty with the implementation of certain policies and programs. This article will offer some details of policies and programs helping to alleviate poverty in Vietnam.

Hunger and Poverty Eradication Program

The Hunger Eradication and Poverty Reduction Program (HEPR) focuses on the children of Vietnam. Children and their families benefit from the program with free health insurance. Additionally, the organization is acquiring tuition exceptions, subsidies and loans designated for children living in poverty. With the aid of HEPR, studies have shown that enrollment in early schooling increases to around 9%. This is beneficial to alleviate poverty in Vietnam and its future since the lack of education is one of the most significant poverty risk factors.

In 2010, nearly 75% of households had members who only completed primary school. Six years later, the number decreased to 57%, which happened with the aid of programs like the Hunger and Poverty Eradication Program of Vietnam. Through the focus on gaining educational opportunities for the future of Vietnam, the Hunger and Poverty Eradication Program of Vietnam has worked to support the process of attaining education.

National Targeted Program for Poverty Reduction

The National Targeted Program for Poverty Reduction (NTPPR) is a poverty-reduction initiative that uses an anthropological perspective to target ethnic minorities living in poverty-stricken rural areas. Through this targeting, NTPPR gains insight on how to alleviate the amount of poverty in Vietnam, for example. This program aims to reduce poverty by around 4% yearly, which is double the national target. This goal helps with encouraging the decrease in poverty because it sets higher expectations for the program.

Health insurance is one of NTPPR’s biggest priorities and this program provides free insurance for children that are age 6 and younger. This is especially beneficial for women who have to work to sustain their household incomes. Since mothers no longer need to take hours off to tend to their illness-vulnerable children, they receive a great benefit. The NTTPR is beneficial to impoverished rural areas and helps the neediest population to alleviate poverty in Vietnam or its symptoms.

The World Bank Group Country Partnership Framework in Vietnam

The World Bank is a global program that helps to support countries with low-interest rate loans. It works to improve the farming industry of rural Vietnam by encouraging low-income farmers with profit-making crops. By helping the economic growth of impoverished areas, nearly 1.5 million people join the Vietnamese middle class annually. Vietnam has since reduced its poverty to nearly 10%. For instance, as of 2016 and in 2018, 70% of people living in Vietnam are income-secure. The World Bank has assisted Vietnam’s most disadvantaged population through increasing farming productivity, strengthening the skills of farmers and leveling the playing field for all the gain employment opportunities.

Despite the many economic challenges Vietnam has faced throughout the years, programs and initiatives like the HEPR, NTPPR and the World Bank have supported the growth of Vietnam’s economy by downsizing the amount of poverty in rural areas.

Karina Wong
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Eradication in Vietnam
Between wars, famines, communist regimes and poverty, Vietnam has had its share of troubles. In 1992, 52% of Vietnam’s population was in poverty, but things have changed for the better. Vietnam has been able to bounce back from its difficulties and is now one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. In 2018, less than 2% of Vietnam’s population was in poverty. Poverty eradication in Vietnam has been successful because of its strong production, widespread infrastructure and growing middle class.

Entering the Global Economy

Vietnam has had many economic troubles in the past. One of its major problems was its reliance on agriculture as a source of income. In 1991, around 40% of Vietnam’s GDP was agriculture.

Growing crops simply did not pay enough to support Vietnamese families. Many impoverished farmers solely relied on agriculture to provide for their families. Vietnam was not doing anything to diversify its economy into more promising markets. While countries like China and Japan were building factories and manufacturing cars, Vietnam was growing rice. Once Vietnam started to invest in more profitable industries, its GDP skyrocketed. Vietnam’s real GDP growth rate was 7% in 2019, far higher than any other in the region. In 2020, around 34% of Vietnam’s GDP comes from industry markets.

Some of its main exports include electronics, footwear and textiles. This has provided life-changing opportunities for millions of Vietnamese families. Many of these poor families are now moving to major cities to work in factories and earning higher wages. Poverty eradication in Vietnam has been largely successful due to its strong and diverse economy.

Opportunities for Poor Families

A large percentage of Vietnam’s population lives in rural areas surrounded by mountain ranges. Previously, most of these people grew simple crops like rice. This was not enough to improve their poor living conditions and many of these people went hungry. The Vietnamese government has sought to dramatically increase the amount of infrastructure in order to connect these rural villages to the rest of the population. In 1993, 14% of the population used electricity as their main source of lighting. This rose to 99% as of 2016. Meanwhile, in 1993, only 17% of rural areas had access to clean water. Now, more than 70% have access to this essential service. These mountain villages are now in contact with the rest of the Vietnamese population. This has provided valuable opportunities for these poor families that they have never had access to before.

Creating a Strong Middle Class

Now that many of these rural villages are connected, people are starting to move out of poverty and into a growing middle class. Major cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are growing as people look for more opportunities. Higher wages and increased standard of living have lured many rural families into moving to the city. Thirteen percent of Vietnam’s population is part of the middle class, and middle-class numbers are continuing to climb. On average, 1.5 million Vietnamese join the middle class every year. What makes this even better is that very few of these people fall back into poverty. From 2014 to 2016, only 2% of Vietnamese who moved out of poverty fell back into it. Poverty eradication in Vietnam is not only successful but sustainable as well.

Despite numerous hardships, Vietnam has been able to go against the odds and become one of the fastest-growing countries in the world. In the late 1900s, Vietnam was in a dismal state. More than half of its population was in poverty. However, by entering the global economy, expanding its infrastructure and creating a strong middle class, poverty eradication in Vietnam is unprecedented in its success. Many hope that Vietnam will continue this success in the future.

Evan Weber
Photo: Flickr