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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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