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, or HEPR, focuses on the children of Vietnam. Children and their families benefit from the program with free health insurance. Additionally, they obtain schooling needs such as 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 biggest 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 of 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, or 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. The World Bank works to improve the farming industry of rural Vietnam by encouraging low-income farmers with profit-making crops. Through 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 with 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: Unsplash

positive covid-19 storiesThe COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the world. While many countries have been devastated, three countries have positive COVID-19 stories: New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam. Here are their positive COVID-19 stories and the lessons they learned from their experiences.

New Zealand

The pacific island nation of around 5 million people had a couple of different strategies in its response to COVID-19. In particular, unity within New Zealand and the nation’s neighboring countries played a big role in the country’s success against the virus. New Zealand offered to help its neighboring countries to prepare for the pandemic. To do so, the country offered health training and made sure that its island neighbors had supplies to fight the virus. Importantly, this unity in New Zealand bridged across political party lines when needed. This resulted in a massive stimulus package passed just weeks after the country’s first case. The stimulus totaled NZ$12.1 billion, around 4% of the country’s GDP. Included in the stimulus package is support for businesses, support for testing and health services and payments to those who couldn’t work because of the virus.

Caution also plays a big part in New Zealand’s success against the virus. The first case of the virus was detected on 28 Feb. 2020. Even before that, however, the government took measures to limit the possible damage of COVID-19. When New Zealand only had 283 cases, the government ordered all non-essential workers to work from home to limit the virus’s spread.

Moreover, the government came up with a four-level alert system to help people know how the virus is spreading. Level one means the disease is contained in New Zealand and level four means community transmission is happening and the disease is not contained. Given how much time the country has spent in the lower levels, its represents one of many positive COVID-19 stories that the whole world can learn from.

Thailand

Thailand is one of the countries that have positive COVID-19 stories. The Asian country of almost 70 million people was designated a success by the WHO. The economy of Thailand is one that is heavily built on tourism, with one-fifth of GDP coming from the tourist sector. However, since the virus has spread, the government of Thailand has had to make economic sacrifices to protect public health. The country had to close its borders to certain travelers, including many Chinese provinces. In addition, Thailand postponed many sporting events and held them without fans to slow the spread of the virus. In particular, Bangkok was in a partial lockdown with only essential services remaining open. Slowing down activity does hurt the economy, but it eases the blow of the virus.

Thailand has also mobilized more than 1 million health volunteers to help respond to the virus. In addition, the government’s health officials have taken the side of precaution throughout the pandemic. This includes rigorous hygiene and wearing face masks at all times. Moreover, Thai people have generally followed the advice of medical professionals, which has contributed to the Thailand’s COVID-19 success story. The Thai government also has one centralized administration, which helped with communication and organization throughout the pandemic.

Vietnam

Vietnam is also among countries with positive COVID-19 stories. Vietnam’s actions to deal with the virus came early and were aggressive, taking place before the virus even entered the country. This early and decisive action is one of the measures that helped Vietnam early on and controlled the virus’s spread. In early January 2020, Vietnam was already preparing for drastic action before there was a recorded case in the country.

Vietnam enacted travel restrictions, closed schools and enacted a rigorous contact and tracing system, while also canceling public events. Governmental communication was upfront and transparent. Consequently, this helped with public compliance to slow the virus outbreak. Vietnam has been one of the best countries in regard to wearing a face mask, which helps slow the spread of the virus. A coordinated media effort throughout Vietnam has also helped the public and government be on the same page in response to the virus.

Another reason Vietnam has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 is its testing. The country tests everyone in quarantine whether they have symptoms or not. This helps slow the spread of the virus, because not everyone who is infected shows symptoms. As a result, younger people who may be infected but don’t have symptoms don’t infect those who may be at higher risk of death to COVID-19. While there was no nationwide lockdown, Vietnam did impose containment on certain areas to reduce the spread of the virus. In February 2020, when a small handful of cases were in the area of Son Loi, the government sealed off the area to prevent the spread of the virus.

What We Can Learn from These Countries

These three countries show positive COVID-19 stories despite a situation that has turned negative in so many countries. A few similarities have emerged between the countries and their success. One is the unity between government and people, which is important to building communication and trust. When citizens trust their government and can easily access clear guidelines, they are more likely to comply with health measures to reduce the spread of the virus. Another similarity between these countries is that it’s better to be cautious rather than reckless. This helps to slow the spread of the virus and make it easier to track. With all the hardship and destruction brought on by COVID-19, these countries with positive COVID-19 stories show how to keep as many people as safe as possible.

Zachary Laird
Photo: Pexels

Vietnam's COVID-19 response
COVID-19 has presented the world with new problems, set against the backdrop of a globalized economy. Some nations have opted for strict shutdowns, while others have taken a more gradual approach via staged lockdowns. Regardless of the initial steps taken, nations have seen astronomical numbers of new coronavirus infections. Some nations have been able to control outbreaks better than others. Vietnam’s COVID-19 response won praise from the World Health Organization for its swift implementation and effectiveness. Regardless of a relatively low GDP and proximity to China, Vietnam was able to keep COVID-19 cases below 300 while other nations surged in April 2020.

Early Response

After nations throughout Southeast Asia and other locations around the world began reporting cases, Vietnam’s COVID-19 response (initially) was to issue a nation-wide address to quell the spread. These regulations, though extensive, were quite effective. Vietnam fell victim to both the SARS outbreak of 2003 and the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. These experiences meant the government was on high alert, as soon as reports began to trickle out of Wuhan, China in January 2020.

Part of their methodology included banning all flights, either domestic or international. This helped to reduce travel between nations as well as between different areas of Vietnam. Additionally, the government has placed more than 44,000 people in quarantine camps. Also, Vietnam’s COVID-19 response included widespread economic shutdowns to decrease person-to-person contact. While these measures were effective in reducing the number of cases, it has taken an economic toll on the markets around Vietnam.

Complications

The nation overall is well below the world’s average GDP, coming in at $261 per capita. This indicates that the Vietnamese economy will be less flexible when placed under economic stress. While these widespread restrictions and quarantines are effective at limiting exposure to the virus — economic ramifications accompany them as well. According to the Vietnamese Labor Ministry, 7.8 million people have been left unemployed as a result of the pandemic.

Amid economic pressure, the government and people are coming together to help move past these hard times. NPR reports that some entrepreneurs within cities have established “rice ATMs” to ensure that all people can access food, regardless of income. In addition to an economic toll, a second wave of the virus is also threatening the Vietnamese people. Since the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in March — Vietnam was able to avoid community spread through the early measures it took. In mid-July 2020, the nation still has no evidence of community transmission. However, in late July 2020, more cases began cropping up to bring the nation’s case count up to 867 cases. This represents an increase of more than 600 cases and the nation’s first 10 COVID-19 deaths accompanying them.

These cases are a warning to the nation about how easy the virus spreads. Regardless, the nation is responding swiftly and responsibly as 80,000 visitors have already flown out of Danang as the city shut down once again to prevent more infections.

The Takeaway

The Vietnamese COVID-19 response began with strong policies to protect its citizens against COVID-19. Though these restrictions posed economic challenges, the nation was able to shelter those who posed a risk in reportedly well-maintained and staffed quarantine camps while other citizens worked to ensure those who faced lay-offs were still able to feed themselves and their families. The spike in cases is indicative that the pandemic, though controlled, is not over.

Allison Moss
Photo: Flickr

us and vietnam relations
The U.S. and Vietnam relations have experienced many changes over time. In 1995, the two nations normalized the alliance and since then, the partnership has become stronger. In June of 2020, Florida representative Ted Yoho introduced a resolution to the House, H. Res. 1018, to recognize the 25 years of normalized relations between the nations. It reaffirms the relationship and expresses a desire for the U.S. to continue its successful partnership with Vietnam.

The U.S. and Vietnam have established strong economic relations during these 25 years as the U.S. has advocated for economic growth within the country. In 2000, for instance, the nations agreed on a bilateral trade agreement that benefits both nations. Also, in recent years, U.S. investment has spiked in Vietnam. Throughout the nations’ partnership, Vietnam has become a growing economic power with an unemployment rate of only 2.2% in 2017. Furthermore, just 8% of its population lives below the poverty line. As noted in the resolution, the U.S. encourages Vietnam’s continued growth in leadership, stability and prosperity.

House Resolution 1018

On June 24, 2020, Representative Yoho introduced H. Res. 1018 to the U.S. House of Representatives. Less than a month later, the resolution moved to the Foreign Affairs Committee before going to the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation.

A Congressional resolution is different from a Congressional bill as it holds no legal obligation. Rather, it is a reflection on the widespread attitude of one of the Congressional institutions. House Resolution 1018 marks 25 years of normalized U.S. and Vietnam relations, celebrates the success that occurred during those years and looks forward to future relations.

More specifically, through H. Res. 1018, the U.S. encourages Vietnam’s decision to take on more global leadership in the U.N. Security Council and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It also encourages and celebrates the stability of the nation, reaffirming the importance of U.S. and Vietnam relations. The stability of Vietnam is beneficial for the U.S. because it lowers concerns over national security and allows for a complete sense of closure around the Vietnam War as the U.S. accounts for its military.

US and Vietnam Relations Moving Forward

In the future, the nations look to continue their normalized relations because it is a mutually beneficial partnership. As noted in the resolution, the U.S. aims to spread its values to Vietnam, continuing its “strong support for human rights and democratic values.” As these are major values of the U.S. government, it is helpful for the nation to spread them to other countries. H. Res. 1018 puts a large emphasis on this area of U.S. and Vietnam relations — signaling that it will be a significant part of the nation’s relations moving forward.

According to the resolution, human rights and democratic values contribute to advances in poverty reduction. Moving forward, much of the focus on U.S. and Vietnam relations emphasizes economic conditions. For example, the U.S. previously gave humanitarian aid to Vietnam through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). With the hope for increasing economic prosperity in the resolution, the nations are looking towards further reducing poverty through future reduction efforts.

House Resolution 1018 aims to continue the peaceful U.S. and Vietnam relations through expanding upon many of the nation’s established successes. This resolution motivates the Vietnam government to continue working with the U.S. to ensure economic success and stability.

Erica Burns
Photo: Flickr

Global MarketAfter ten years of negotiation, the European Union Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) came into action on August 1, 2020. The deal will reduce tariffs by 99% over the next 10 years and will provide relief from the economic drops caused by COVID-19. The market contains over 500 million individuals and is valued at 18 trillion USD. The trade relationship will enable Vietnam to compete in the global market better, especially against markets like Japan and South Korea. Currently, out of all of the countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Vietnam is the European Union’s (EU) second-largest trade partner behind Singapore. Compared to its regional rivals of Indonesia and Thailand, Vietnam has a stronger trade relationship and involvement in the global market.

Vietnam and the EU Ties

For exports, Vietnam relies on the EU as its largest partner. Vietnam’s exports to the EU are larger than any other ASEAN country. A World Bank study found that from 2001 to 2018, Vietnam’s exports to the EU have grown annually at an average rate of 16%, gaining it a trade surplus over the EU. According to the European Commission, these exports are mostly textiles and clothing, agriculture products like coffee, rice, seafood, electronic products, telephone sets and more.

As the agreement is implemented, both countries could see a rise in GDP and new job opportunities, amongst other positive effects. More immediately, Vietnam’s GDP will increase by 2.18-3.25%, said the Ministry of Planning and Investment. Unlike most countries, Vietnam will see positive economic growth this year – estimated to be up by 4.8%, according to a study by the World Bank. In 2030, Vietnam will see a 6.8% growth in its GDP.

Both countries will have large growths in their exports. The EU could see a $16.9 billion per year increase in exports by 2025. Vietnam is expected to increase exports by 42.7% in the first five years of the deal, mostly in farm produce, manufacturing and services. Additional domestic reforms by Vietnam could raise productivity and further increase GDP by 6.8% in the next 10 years.

Vietnam’s Participation in Global Value Chains

As Vietnam increases trade with other countries through agreements, it will become more involved in the global market. Further globalization will also push Vietnam to participate more in global value chains (GVCs), shifting away from the manufacturing market from China. The bilateral treaty signed between Vietnam and the EU will also ensure that electronics and electrical equipment (a large portion of current imports) comes to Vietnam exclusively from the EU.

Due to this shift, the EU has increased its foreign direct investment in Vietnam. The EU already was the largest foreign investor in Vietnam, with a total of 6.1 billion euros endowed as of 2017, mostly into processing and manufacturing. This investment will go towards new jobs and increased productivity by reducing the number of imports to Vietnam and shifting towards in-house production for higher gains.

To be eligible to avoid tariffs, Vietnamese products must not contain imports from other countries. In addition, agriculture must meet requirements for sanitation, meaning farmers will have to refine their growth system. The deal places especially tight regulations on the quality of agricultural and manufactured products shipped by Vietnam, pushing technological developments in order to avoid drops in efficiency.

Poverty Reduction

Over the past two decades, Vietnam has made steady progress in reducing extreme poverty. From 1992 to 2018, Vietnam’s GDP per capita increased by more than four times, pulling extreme poverty rates from 52.9% down to 2% of the population. EVFTA will continue this trend. A World Bank Study found that EVFTA is expected to reduce extreme poverty (less than $1.90 per day) by 0.1-0.8 million people by 2030, 0.7% more than the poverty-reduction rate without the agreement. Overall, this will amount to an 11.9% decrease. In addition, poverty at $3.20 per day is expected to reduce from 8% to 3.5%.

Vietnam has now broadened its poverty baseline from $1.90 to $5.50. From 2016 to 2030, developments caused by EVFTA will influence this poverty rate to drop from 29% to 12.6%, allowing Vietnam to achieve upper-middle-class status. In addition, the income gap between genders will be decreased by 0.15 percent. This difference affects low-income families the most, as they are traditionally involved in manual labor jobs where this is most prevalently seen.

This agreement will open up new territories for both the EU and Vietnam to expand into. Vietnam’s primarily agricultural economy might see large shifts into one of manufacturing and processing. This agreement is a stepping stone for Vietnam’s involvement in the global market, and it might be a sign of large changes to come.

Nitya Marimuthu
Photo: Pixabay

SDG Goal 3 in Vietnam During the U.N. Summit for 2015, world leaders decided on 17 goals that they would like to track around the world. These goals would help motivate changes for a better future and identify where these changes were most needed. Titled, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — these goals range from conserving and creating a sustainable industry in the ocean (SDG goal 14) to ending poverty in all forms (SDG goal 1). Moreover, the U.N. rates the status of a country and its ability to achieve a certain SDG by 2030. This article will provide a brief update on SDG goal 3 in Vietnam.

Vietnam, a country located in Southeast Asia, has achieved several of the goals. For instance, Vietnam has achieved the goals for quality education (SDG 4), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12) and climate action (SDG 13). One of the goals, however, the “Good Health and Well-Being” (SDG 3) has been rated as the furthest from achievement with the “major challenges remain” status.

SDG 3: A Deep Dive

The description of SDG 3 is simple but will require a great effort to achieve; “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” Some of the sub-scores — specific statistics that have led Vietnam to the depleted state of wellness and well-being goal include the high incidences of tuberculosis, traffic deaths and the percentage of surviving infants who received two Word Health Organization recommended vaccines.

Some of the greatest identified challenges include the control of communicable diseases, such as the aforementioned tuberculosis score, creating healthcare equality and accessibility. These issues share a strong connection because some new policies that have improved the control of communicable diseases in one sector are not established in others.

Improvements to SDG 3

Though the scores may be an indicator of a national problem in Vietnam, they have led to great improvements. In response to the inaccessibility score, the health service delivery has improved greatly. For example, there has been an increase in investment for healthcare facilities that are accessible to all Vietnamese. Also, the ability of Vietnamese to pay for healthcare is increasing as the coverage from insurance rises. In 2017, 86.4 % of Vietnamese had health insurance. Moreover, the National Tuberculosis Control Programme helps identify those who need treatment. This has continued to reduce the incidence over the years.

Traffic accidents are another low score for SDG goal 3 in Vietnam — something unique to the country. Accidents, injuries and deaths are all counted into the well-being score for SDG 3 in Vietnam. While the number of incidences has decreased, an estimated 14,000 people continue to lose their lives due to traffic accidents each year. The National Traffic Safety Committee and WHO have started a road safety project that works on reducing the number of deaths and accidents. The initiative holds a large focus on motorcycle safety and the prevention of drinking while driving.

What is Currently Being Done?

The inequality and inaccessibility for healthcare and sources of well-being, such as nutritious and reliable sources of food are especially culpable concerning child mortality statistics. The national statistics show a hopeful decreasing trend but have revealed stunning discrepancies between ethnic and regional groups. Highlighting this — child mortality in some mountainous regions in the Northwest and Central Highlands are four times as high as the national average. To create a way in which all children can be treated equitably, the Sustainable Health Development Center (VietHealth) has developed many programs to help mobilize primary care, screenings and disability care.

Vietnam is currently facing several different challenges in reaching the SDGs for 2030. However, with the help of (among others) the National Tuberculosis Control Programme, the road safety programs and VietHealth, much progress can be made in the next decade. Vietnam and the U.N.’s SDGs have proved to be a valuable resource for highlighting severe issues and motivating organizations and governments to improve conditions for citizens around the world.

Jennifer Long
Photo: Flickr

American ExportsThroughout the past several decades, nations in Southeast Asia have seen significant declines in extreme poverty rates. As poverty has fallen and these nations have developed economically, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has become the United States’ fourth-largest trading partner. While the United States does rely heavily on this region for imports, trade with ASEAN also supports American exports and bolsters nearly 346,000 American jobs. The following five countries in Southeast Asia are critical trading partners and demonstrate the economic benefits that can coincide with a decrease in extreme poverty:

1. Malaysia

Malaysia has been extremely successful in reducing poverty throughout the past several decades. According to the United Nations, “… in 1970, 49.3% of Malaysian households were below the poverty line.” As of 2015, the figure had fallen to 0.4%. As poverty has fallen, Malaysia has also grown economically, developing profitable manufacturing, petroleum and natural gas industries.

As the country has reduced poverty and developed economically, it has become an important trading partner to the United States. The United States imports electrical machinery, tropical oils and rubber from Malaysia. It also exports soybeans, cotton and aircraft to the nation. In total, the trade between the two nations totals around $57.8 billion each year and supports nearly 73,000 American jobs.

2. Thailand

Thailand is another country that has seen impressive levels of poverty reduction in recent decades. According to The World Bank, poverty rates fell from around 65% in 1988 to under 10% in 2018. The nation has also evolved economically, developing large automotive and tourism industries as poverty rates have fallen.

Trade between the United States and Thailand has steadily grown, totaling $48.9 billion in 2018. When analyzing imports, the United States relied on Thailand for machinery, rice and precious metals. In terms of exports, the United States provided the nation with electrical machinery, mineral fuels and soybeans. In total, the exports to the nation supported nearly 72,000 American jobs. Additionally, exports to Thailand have been increasing in recent years, growing nearly 14.5% from 2017 to 2018.

3. Vietnam

Vietnam is perhaps one of the most astounding examples of poverty reduction and economic development. The World Bank reports that “the poverty headcount in Vietnam fell from nearly 60% to 20.7% in the past 20 years.” As it has done so, the nation developed one of the most rapidly growing middle classes in Southeast Asia, became a center for foreign investment and developed key industries in electronics, footwear and textiles.

While the United States has come to heavily rely on Vietnamese imports, Vietnam is also a rapidly growing market for American exports. In fact, American exports of goods to Vietnam increased by 246.9%, and American exports of services to the nation increased 110% since 2008. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, “U.S. exports of Goods and Services to Vietnam supported an estimated 54,000 American jobs in 2015.”

4. Indonesia

Though the nation still has significant progress to make, Indonesia is another nation that has seen a reduction in extreme poverty rates. Since 1990, the nation has managed to half its poverty rate and make significant economic advancements. Currently the largest economy in Southeast Asia, the nation has developed notable industries in petroleum, natural gas, textiles and mining.

Trade with the nation totaled around $32.9 billion in 2019. While the United States imported apparel and footwear from the nation, it also exported soybeans, aircraft and fuels to Indonesia. In total, American exports to Indonesia are growing, increasing 19.1% from 2017 to 2018 and supporting nearly 56,000 American jobs.

5. Philippines

While poverty is still an issue in the Philippines, it has seen significant declines in recent years. According to the World Bank, poverty fell from 26.6% to 21.6% from 2006 to 2015. The nation has also made significant improvements in developing industries outside of agriculture. While agriculture composed nearly one-third of the nation’s GDP in the 1970s, it currently represents 9.3%, split between an emerging industrial and service sector.

Trade with the nation currently provides $29.6 billion each year, and exports to the Philippines grew 3% from 2017 to 2018. Mainly, the Philippines relies on American exports for electrical machinery, soybean meal, and wheat. Overall, exports to the Philippines support an estimated 58,000 American jobs.

Affecting nearly one in five American jobs, international trade is a critical part of the American economy. As demonstrated by Southeast Asia, a reduction in global poverty rates not only contributes to global economic development but also supports the export industry and American jobs.

– Michael Messina
Photo: Pexels

hunger in vietnam
Over the course of two decades, there was a decrease in the number of citizens facing starvation in Vietnam, a Southeast Asian country. Each year, statistics that Macrotrends has provided show the percentages of citizens facing hunger slightly dropping. Vietnam’s World Food Bank reports that, as of 2010, its country is no longer an undeveloped country but rather a middle-income country. Still, issues of hunger in Vietnam persist.

Statistics

Based on the annual statistics from Macrotrends, the amount of people facing hunger in Vietnam as of 2016 is 9.40%, which declined by 0.4% from 2015. The following year in 2017, the percentage of those facing hunger is 9.30%, which is a 0.1% decline. Macrotrends also present a line plot on its site, displaying the steady decrease of starvation in Vietnam from 2000-2019.

Root Causes of Vietnam’s Hunger Problem

Despite the decrease in percentage over the years, the number of those who face hunger in Vietnam is still very high. Here are four factors that ultimately connects to Vietnam’s hunger problem:

  1. High Poverty Rates: The issue of hunger ultimately roots to the high rates of poverty in Vietnam. According to the U.N., Vietnam has around 9 million citizens, or 9.8% of the entire population, who live in extreme poverty. The statistics of those facing hunger mirror the percentage of citizens in poverty.
  2. Issues with the Education System: The VN Express International News, or the most viewed Vietnam newspaper, reports that the key to combating poverty is providing an equal opportunity for an education to children of all backgrounds. According to a report provided by Oxfam in 2018, only 3.1% of the population were college-level graduates in Vietnam. As a result, the same research discovered that only one-fifth of Vietnam’s young adults occupy a different job from their parents. Without the proper higher education, the majority of those in poverty remain in the endless labor-working cycle that their parents lived through.
  3. Imbalanced Income and Spending: The Vietnam Briefing, a website that provides insights on doing business in Vietnam, reports that the average monthly spending of a Vietnam citizen is VND 6.5 million, or $280 USD. However, the citizens’ monthly income is on average only VND 4.6 million, or $197.8 USD. Due to this issue, most people have to work overtime to make ends meet.
  4. Agriculture: Vietnam is one of the top five countries that faces environmental challenges. Due to this problem, rice production has experienced negative impact. The United States predicts that Vietnam’s rice paddy production will drop 3.3% in 2020 because of its droughts and incidents of saltwater intrusion. In the Central Highlands, coffee production also declines frequently due to intensive droughts. The food production rate affects the percentage of Vietnam citizens facing hunger.

3 Things the Vietnam Government Did to Help Decline Hunger Rates

  1. Vietnam has launched a Zero Hunger Program, in 2015, which aims to reduce malnutrition rates in children. Its goal is to end hunger by 2025. In order to accomplish its goal, farmers receive encouragement to work with co-operatives and food production chains. This will increase the rate of food production, resulting in citizens obtaining more food. Presently, there are no known updates on the outcomes of the program.
  2. In 2018, the government planned on reforming the education system. It wants schools to help develop students’ workforce skills. Production of labor force skills receives priority with large-scale investment in relevant, job-oriented training. By educating students on varying job skills, they will have more career opportunities. This positively influences their income.
  3. As of 2018, the Vietnamese Government also planned on improving access to credit because it will help highland farmers make strategic investments on agricultural crops that profit more. Access to credit impacts the poverty rate, which in return, influences hunger rates. Issuing credit to farmers helps expand their livelihood activities, help them to improve living standards, and raise annual income. However, this plan still remains controversial because there are many factors, such as the number of household members and one’s age, in determining who gets credit and who does not. As of now, there is no official system providing all rural farmers with credit.

Although the number of citizens facing hunger in Vietnam is gradually declining annually, there are still many communities facing famine. The implemented programs and improved education for children bring hope for the future of Vietnam’s hunger crisis.

Megan Ha
Photo: Pixabay

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

Healthcare in VietnamIn the fourth century BCE, China became the primary ruler of a northern section of Vietnam. Before this period, northern Vietnam and southern China shared multiple ethnic groups, many of which held traditional healing beliefs. As a result, traditional forms of medicine in Vietnam are very similar to those in China. Shared herbal medicine practices and theoretical frameworks continued to spread when China began its 1,000-year occupation of Vietnam, in 111 BCE. During this time, Vietnam’s medicinal use of plants and China’s theoretical framework around traditional healing merged to create an alternative form of medicine that persists today in healthcare in Vietnam.

Traditional Medicine in the East

Alternative, or traditional, medicine is often overlooked in Western contexts and seen as less effective or taboo. This is because of medical hegemony, or “the dominance of the biomedical model [and] the active suppression of alternatives,” as defined by the International Journal of Complementary & Alternative Medicine. Medical hegemony indicates an underlying power dynamic between the East and the West. While many people in the West believe that Western medicine is best, many others around the world believe that traditional medicine is legitimate. People in Vietnam, China and other countries have used traditional medicine for over 4,000 years. It actually inspired the growth of Western practices, though its treatment methods are now entirely distinct from biomedicine.

Since its origin, traditional medicine has been prescribed by healers and traditional medicine doctors primarily for its preventative properties. Healers commonly use herbal medicines in an oral or topical form to treat developing symptoms of a certain ailment. Traditional healing can also commonly include physical exercise, massage or acupuncture to promote the flow of blood and energy. In addition to the physical effects of treatment, traditional medicine is theorized to have hormonal and energy-balancing properties, like the Chinese concept of yin and yang.

Vietnam’s Healthcare System

While the use of traditional medicine is still common throughout cultures that partake in traditional healing, it is often not used on its own. In contemporary Vietnamese medical culture, individuals seeking care consult both traditional and biomedical practitioners for treatment. The two systems can be complementary: biomedicine aims to physically eradicate an illness, while traditional medicine treats the symptoms and psychosocial harm of the ailment. For example, if a person develops cancer in Vietnam, they might consult a biomedical physician for chemotherapy and a traditional medicine doctor for a remedy that counters the symptomatic effects of chemotherapy.

Gaining a dual perspective from biomedicine and traditional physicians in Vietnam is so common that this practice is reflected in the country’s health insurance system, which makes both kinds of medicine accessible. The payment method for healthcare in Vietnam varies based on the sector in which a person obtains treatment, whether public or private. Treatment in the public sector is covered in full, with an occasional co-pay expense, as public health insurance is compulsory in Vietnam. Private health insurance is paid out of pocket. Both public and private insurance can cover traditional medicine hospital expenses, though the costs for traditional medicine are generally paid privately.

However, when a person is unable to pay for either public or private insurance, they are still able to access traditional forms of medicine. In Hanoi, a major city in Vietnam, there is a full street of vendors that sell traditional medicinal herbs. These vendors can even help to fill prescriptions from hospitals at a reduced price, making traditional medicine more accessible to the public.

Improving Public and Personal Health

The accessibility of traditional medicine with and without health insurance fills gaps in healthcare in Vietnam, making the population healthier overall. In addition, the Vietnamese prioritize preventative medicine because the population is familiar with traditional health values. With ready access to health resources, along with a generalized understanding of the values of self-care, healthcare in Vietnam excels.

Lilia Wilson
Photo: Flickr