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5 Charities Operating in VietnamIn the last decade, over 10 million people have escaped poverty in Vietnam. However, poverty in ethnic minority groups such as the La Hu and H’Mong remains rampant. Vietnam has yet to improve the quality of life for the more vulnerable groups of society and treat all citizens equally. The multi-dimensional poverty rate for ethnic minorities is 35.7% compared to the national multi-dimensional rate of around 9%. The poverty rate for La Hu and H’Mong is starkly higher at 84.9% and 82.9%. Fortunately, many charities operating in Vietnam are helping to bridge the inequality gap.

5 Charities Operating in Vietnam

  1. The Global Village Foundation (GVF) – The GVF was founded in 2000 by philanthropist and author Le Ly Hayslip. Their mission is to use humanitarian work to elevate the standard of life for people throughout rural Vietnam as well as Southeast Asia. Le Ly grew up in Xa Hoa Quy during the Vietnam War. She witnessed the devastation of the war, which impelled her to establish two organizations: the Global Village Foundation and East Meets West Foundation. Both organizations provide basic needs such as food, shelter, medical assistance and education to help rebuild Vietnam. The GVF is now one of the most prominent charities in Vietnam. They offer apprenticeship programs to help young people develop their leadership skills and create projects that help disadvantaged people around the world. They also offer school construction, school cultural exchange programs and disaster aid. Most recently, in June 2023, they celebrated their 30th anniversary by converting an abandoned high school building into the Village of Hope Orphanage in Danang.
  2. Action Aid – Vietnam has one of the largest female workforces in Asia. However, the rate of domestic violence and underage marriage is high. One in 10 girls are married under the age of 18. Established in 1989 as one of the most important international charities in Vietnam, Action Aid supports women and girls across the world. They educate local communities about women’s rights and hold girls’ clubs in schools, creating a safe space where girls can learn about their bodies. They empower girls to fight for their right to education and live free from violence. In 2015, Action Aid spoke with over 1,200 people living in Hoa Binh about childcare and household chores done solely by women that are taken for granted. Their COVID-19 response has also reached around 46,000 people in Vietnam.
  3. Children’s Hope in Action – Children’s Hope in Action (CHIA) is an NGO based in Hoi An and works within the wider Quang Nam province to help disadvantaged children. It was founded by Robyn Morley in 2006. In 2000, Morley volunteered at an orphanage for disadvantaged children. She met malnourished children who were often sent to an orphanage due to the low financial conditions of their families. She established CHIA to bridge the gap in the availability of aid and services for children.
  4. Little Rose Warm Shelter – In 1992, the Ho Chi Minh City Child Welfare Association established the Little Rose Warm Shelter (LRWS). More than 290,000 disadvantaged young people have been helped by the association. The LRWS is one of the few local charities in Vietnam that focuses on rehabilitating and providing aid for girls who are victims of sexual and domestic abuse in Ho Chi Minh City. The LRWS empowers young girls by providing education, job opportunities, therapy, health care facilities and shelter. They spread awareness on how to care for victims of abuse and prevent child abuse within community groups by collaborating with the local authorities. They use social enterprises to fund their services. The Little Rose Bakery sells scrumptious baked goods to continue helping young girls.
  5. Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation In early 2003, the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation began to help children in crises all over Vietnam. Whether it is in the bustling city streets or the quiet rural areas, the Blue Dragon provides aid to adolescents who are victims of trafficking, homelessness, illness, drug abuse and sexual exploitation. In 2002, the Blue Dragon’s journey started when Michael Brosowski, an Australian teacher, began teaching English to a small group of children who were cleaning shoes to survive. By 2003, Brosowski, Pham Sy Chungi and their friends from university had established a residence for homeless children in Hanoi. Over the past 20 years, they have helped girls from forced marriages and brothels in China, opened a safe house for boys suffering from neglect and advocated to improve policies regarding child labor and safeguarding vulnerable children. Now, in 2023, more than 20,000 adolescents have been rescued across Vietnam.

All of these charities operating in Vietnam continue to work selflessly for vulnerable groups in society. They are actively driving Vietnam towards a brighter future and lowering the rate of poverty.

– Sharvi Rana
Photo: Unsplash

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

Child Marriage in VietnamAccording to Girls Not Brides, an organization dedicated to bringing an end to child marriage across the globe, 11% of girls in Vietnam marry before their 18th birthday. Approximately 1% of these girls marry before they turn 15 years old. And as things stand, most reported cases of child marriage in Vietnam come from within the rural and isolated mountainous regions.

Causes of Child Marriage in Vietnam

Low income, low levels of education among young girls and outdated traditions are the leading causes of child marriage in Vietnam. And according to a Poverty Child article, “Poverty is one of the main causes of child marriage globally.”

Households with many occupants, especially in rural areas, do not have the funds to provide food and other necessities for all of their members. This creates a pressing situation that typically, according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), results in any of two outcomes:

  • Children between the ages of 5 to 17 years end up working in hazardous environments instead of going to school.

  • Young girls unwillingly go into marriages with older men in a bid to relieve their poor families from providing for them. Typically, the groom pays the bride’s family a dowry in exchange for her hand in marriage. For many households, the money from the dowry is a respite from the poverty-hunger cycle.

Traditionalism is a major part of Vietnamese culture, especially in lower-income areas where education is not a priority. Within some communities, the parents of young girls consent to child marriage. Traditional families are afraid of the stigma around pre-marital sex and fear pregnancy as an outcome of letting their daughters receive education or be independent. Additionally, many societies employ shame as a tool to coerce parents into marrying off their young daughters.

Fighting Child Marriage in Vietnam

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Vietnam customarily calls on the world to end child marriage on Valentine’s Day every year. In an article published on 14th February 2022, the UNFPA said, “Child marriage is a human rights violation that often ensnares the most vulnerable, impoverished and marginalized girls.”

The EMPoWR Project

The plea was a part of UNFPA’s promotional campaign for the EMPoWR Project, which is co-funded by the Delegation of the European Union and Plan International in Belgium. The project aims to enhance awareness of ethnic minority children and young people on human trafficking and child marriage through digital technology. The EMPoWR Project resulted from a collaboration between multiple organizations, including the Department of Children under the Ministry of Labor, Plan International Vietnam and the Institute for Social Development Studies (ISDS). The project commenced in 2020 and will run through 2023, with the aim of reaching the four provinces of Ha Giang, Lai Chau, Quang Binh and Quang Tri in Vietnam.

In September 2021, the EMPoWR project expanded to establish a digital platform called ‘Em Vui’ (meaning ‘I’m Happy’ in Vietnamese), aiming to provide support to vulnerable children and young people from ethnic minorities in Vietnam. The goal of this project is to prevent human trafficking and child marriage in the country. The platform is easily accessible via social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, making it convenient and readily available for marginalized Vietnamese youth.

Reinforcing the Legislation

In 2016, a representative from the National Committee for Ethnic Minorities informed the government of the gap in legislation around protecting vulnerable minors from child marriage in Vietnam.

In January 2018, the Vietnamese government enacted a new Criminal Code to protect young women from child marriage and trafficking. The legislation also stipulated doling out harsh sentences for offenders. Under the Marriage and Family Law in Vietnam, the minimum age for marriage across the country is now 18 years for girls and 20 years for boys.

Looking Ahead

Poverty and low levels of education have been the main causes of child marriage in Vietnam. However, initiatives such as Em Vui continue to make progress in bringing about positive change, with 60% of girls with access to education reporting that they were ready to reject forced marriages in an EMPoWR survey.

– Vahisté Sinor
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in VietnamThere has been a great deal of success in fighting HIV/AIDS in Vietnam in recent years. UNAIDS figures show that in 2020, new HIV infections numbered 6,100 in the Southeast Asia nation of 95 million people. This marks about a 71% reduction from the peak in 2003 and the lowest number of new infections since 1992. AIDS-related deaths fell from a peak of 9,600 deaths in 2006 to 3,800 deaths in 2020 — about a 60% reduction.

The Role of Foreign Aid

Over the years, foreign aid has advanced efforts to control HIV/AIDS in Vietnam. The United States has long been the largest donor, bilaterally through its President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and multilaterally through its contributions to the United Nations.

The U.S. began PEPFAR in 2003 when the global HIV/AIDS epidemic was near its peak severity. PEPFAR initially focused on 15 countries in which the HIV/AIDS epidemic was most out of control, including Vietnam. Vietnam received $288.7 million in assistance from the program between 2004 and 2008. This aggressive funding went a long way in helping Vietnam educate high-risk populations about HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment; providing antiretroviral treatment (ART) for infected persons and addiction treatment for people who inject drugs (the highest risk population).

UNAIDS 90-90-90 Goals and Beyond

In October 2014, Vietnam became the first nation in Asia to adopt the UNAIDS’ 90-90-90 initiative, which set the following aggressive goals to be reached by 2020:

  • “90% of all people living with HIV will” have a diagnosis.

  • “90% of all people diagnosed with HIV” will obtain antiretroviral treatment.

  • “90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.”

A 2020 UNAIDS report shows that  Vietnam had incomplete data for the first two goals and a 95% score for the third. The data also indicates that 66% of all people in Vietnam living with HIV were virally suppressed. UNAIDS has set new goals to reach 95% in all three areas by 2025.

The Positive Impact of Poverty Reduction

A few years before Vietnam discovered its first HIV infections in 1990, its government implemented economic reforms known as Doi Moi. These changes made the Vietnamese economy more market-oriented, which in turn, attracted foreign investments and allowed the nation to tap into globalization. The economic results were so dramatic that the IMF says Vietnam’s per capita growth of 5.6% between 1990 and 2017 was “second only to China.” More than 40 million people rose out of poverty from 1993 to 2014. According to the World Bank, Vietnam’s poverty rate now stands at less than 6% based on the purchasing power parity of $3.2 a day.

This vast reduction in poverty has no doubt helped in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Vietnam. The American Psychological Association says that risky health behaviors, such as substance abuse and transactional sex work, are more likely in areas with a low socioeconomic status (SES). It also notes that HIV-infected people with low SES are less likely to receive treatment early on, and that, once treatment begins, the demands and costs of their medical care often hurt their SES even further.

The Impact of a Change in Economic Status

Efforts to control HIV/AIDS in Vietnam have been affected by the change in 2009 of Vietnam’s economic status from a low-income country to a lower-middle-income country. Foreign donors have since demanded that Vietnam cover an increasingly high share of the costs to run its HIV/AIDS programs, which Vietnam has agreed to. Today, the nation covers approximately 40% of the total costs of HIV/AIDS treatment.

Going forward, it is imperative that Vietnam and foreign donors work closely together to help ensure a smooth transition for critical HIV/AIDS programs as Vietnam takes on more autonomy.

– Jeramiah Jordan
Photo: Flickr

Agriculture in Vietnam
Vietnam is a country that thrives on agriculture. Even though many consider the country to be poor, agriculture is the base of the country’s economy. With a 12-month growing season, the country can get two or three harvests in a single year. One of the biggest problems in this sector is that much of Vietnam‘s agricultural industry is driven by manual processes.

Agriculture in Vietnam

Vietnam is well known for cheap agricultural exports like coffee beans, rice, cotton, peanuts, sugarcane and tea. The country comes in second for rice exports, with 19.6 percent farmland and 69 percent irrigated land available for farming.

At least 30 percent of exports are crops grown year around. Other not so popular exports that are grown in parts of the country are cassava and sweet potatoes. Some places even have fruit trees that grow in certain seasons like bananas, jackfruit, oranges, mangoes and coconuts. For a country that has most of the economy in agriculture, and is poor otherwise, food is never in short supply.

Challenges

Agriculture in Vietnam is the pillar of the economy. Though the country produces a large number of crops, the quality is low and so is the competitiveness. The more agricultural products produced, the lower the cost and Vietnam cannot seem to break the vicious cycle.

The markets have plenty of room for all the excess product, but farmers are not growing for the new demands the market requires. Vietnam is used to a more traditional market, which makes it even harder to compete with countries like Cambodia, Pakistan and Myanmar. This way of farming is becoming unsustainable and some growers are abandoning their farms for jobs in the city. Farmers are in poverty because of this cycle, and many do not have outside skills after a career in farming. A new policy called the “motivation” is set to push farmers and policy officials to take advantage of global integration and dig further into the demands of the market. This could help stop the vicious cycle that is occurring and improve agricultural practices.

What Is Being Done

The primary areas where farming is done are near the Red River Delta and Mekong River Delta. Vietnam’s agricultural industry involves intensive labor, so water buffalo is used on many farms today. Farmers use dikes which are like dams to control the rivers. This lets the farmers control more or less water in certain areas so the crops can get the right amount and grow properly. Some farmers gather wild plants by the rivers and in forests to cultivate seeds, hoping to increase crop revenue from the rare wild plants and it also brings diversity to the agriculture. Farmers created a new way to prevent pests from affecting the rice plants by using an electric device to find them instead of pesticides. If farmers planted the rice immediately after infestation, the plants grew stronger and built resistance to the pests, known as brown planthoppers. Many policies are being rolled out to increase diversity in the products, finding new markets and retaining more natural ways to produce and protect crops.

An exciting new irrigation system has been proposed for Vietnam agriculture and will open doors to new markets. The Asian Development Bank approved $100 million to help finance right modernized irrigation systems in five drought-affected areas. The upgraded irrigation system will bring water on demand with pressurized pipe systems. This will help improve agricultural productivity and give access to grow high-end crops such as dragonfruit, grapes and mango. It will improve the quality of Vietnam’s coffee beans and the variety of peppers the country grows. This system will also improve the quality of groundwater and minimize management services. Providing water on demand will ensure crops get exactly how much water they need and even provide water during unfavorable climate change. The new system could increase diversity in the market, gross profit and fight poverty within the country.

– Kayla Cammarota
Photo: Flickr

Fishermen Poverty in the South China Sea
The South China Sea represents more than just a geopolitical struggle; it is a hotspot for fishing. Beijing claims that its historic rights give it ownership inside the so-called Nine-Dash Line, covering around 80 percent of the South China Sea. These claims contradict maritime laws, among them The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and have received backlash from several Southeast Asian countries.

For example, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam all hold overlapping claims over the Spratlys Islands, a group of islands, archipelagos and reefs. Aggression from all sides and a lack of cooperation on fishing regulations have endangered the livelihoods of fishermen, who rely on the South China Sea for sustenance. Here are seven facts about fishermen poverty in the South China Sea:

7 Facts about Fishermen Poverty in the South China Sea

  1. The South China Sea fisheries constitute the economic lifeblood of claimant states. They are the home of upwards of 3,365 species of marine fish, and 55 percent of marine fishing vessels operate in the South China Sea. Moreover, approximately 12 percent of global fishing catches occur there. In addition to being a source of nutrition, the fisheries provide employment to at least 3.7 million people.

  2. Overfishing has depleted the fishing reserves of the South China Sea. A Stimson report released in December 2012 found that shallow reefs and shoals have been exploited to their limit. Relative to other regions of Earth, portions of the South China Sea are among the most highly affected marine ecosystems.

  3. Coastal development has further aggravated marine species. Mangroves, for example, occupy a mere 70 percent of their original land area in the South China Sea, and seagrass beds have shrunk to 50 percent of pre-industrial levels. Industrial pollutants, tourism and sediment runoff have endangered marine species, which use coastal habitats for spawning purposes. When these coastal habitats become depleted, fishermen venture beyond national limits, leading to confrontations at sea.

  4. Overexploitation of stocks has forced fishermen to turn to dangerous fishing techniques. In order to make up for economic losses, fishermen have used explosives and cyanide to boost yields. Some have resorted to blast fishing, in which dynamite is used to kills schools of fish. This allows for easy collection, but it seriously harms the coral reefs and seabed in the process. In Indonesia alone, fishing explosives have cost up to $3.8 billion between 1980 and 2000.

  5. Fishermen poverty is a common type of poverty in countries surrounding the South China Sea. 80 percent of Indonesian fishing households earn incomes below the country’s poverty line. In the Tay Ninh province of Vietnam, people working in the fisheries sector made up 88 percent of very low-income households in 1999. Moreover, poverty is more prevalent in Filipino fishing households than in the average Filipino household.

  6. Legal uncertainty about the status of artificial islands and false claims in the South China Sea have exacerbated tensions between fishermen from different Southeast Asian nations. Maritime border disputes have prevented countries from establishing a framework for cooperation. With no regulation of fishing activities, illegal and unreported fishing has gone rampant in the South China Sea.

  7. Border disputes have put the lives of Southeast Asian fishermen in danger. CNN reported that, in 2015, Chinese vessels attacked 200 Ly Son (Vietnamese) fishermen and 17 fishing boats. Starting in 2005 and lasting seven years, Chinese government ships kidnapped Vietnamese fishers for ransom near The Paracel Islands. Romel Cejuela, a Filipino fisherman, explained that the Chinese Coast Guard personnel “board our boats, look at where we store the fish and take the best ones.” China is not the sole perpetrator of these acts of violence and robbery. In 2017, Reuters article Indonesia’s navy shot four Vietnamese fishermen on a fishing boat in the South China Sea.

On June 27, 2018, representatives from the member states of The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China met in Changsha to negotiate a “code of conduct” for vessels traveling through the South China Sea. For the first time, China and ASEAN reached a consensus on a set of maritime rules and planned to hold joint maritime exercises in the future. While some critics dismiss the meeting as a Chinese ploy, agreements like this one are necessary for fishermen whose lives depend on stability in the South China Sea.

To alleviate fishermen poverty and create an environment more conducive to cooperation and sustainable fishing, it is essential that Southeast Asian nations delineate territorial claims and abide by a rules-based international order. With the negotiations currently underway, this may occur sooner than originally anticipated.

– Mark Blekherman
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Vietnam
Over the last three decades, poverty in Vietnam has been reduced by 75 percent. While there is no question that this progress is a great success for Vietnam, there are still issues associated with this poverty that widely persist today.

According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), racial disparities, notably among Vietnamese minorities, continue to exist. New kinds of poverty are starting to form. While success has been seen, it should not serve as a foundation on which Vietnam can rest and avoid its other systemic issues. Rather, this development should act as an indicator for the great potential that exists when a country actively seeks to address its internal issues.

With the Vietnamese poverty line resting at about $2 per day, many people residing above this threshold face the possibility of economic, social and political fluctuations that could quickly force them back into a state of poverty.

Although “poverty” has been significantly reduced, there is still great necessity to commit to sustainable and continued development for the Vietnamese people and their economic stature. In addition, the benefits of poverty reduction have been skewed among racial regional and gendered lines.

Where Vietnam Poverty Exists

Nearly half of the Vietnamese minorities still live in poverty, and those in mountainous regions live in additional fear of natural disasters and tough living conditions. While poverty reduction in urban areas is evident, the state of rural populations is consistently unnoticed and unaddressed.

However, one does not need to look to rural areas to see the alleviation disparity surrounding the poverty in Vietnam. Gender still serves as an indicator of poverty levels, with women suffering some of the largest economic injustices. Pay gaps, lack of female leadership roles and poor conditions for existing female sectors are just a few of the sources that fuel gendered poverty levels in Vietnam as a whole.

In combating poverty in Vietnam, the country has implemented programs to promote the empowerment of women and has instituted comprehensive education opportunities. By increasing the level of education throughout the country, Vietnam hopes to create a lasting solution rather than a temporary fix to national poverty. Along with this, creating new images for women in the workplace aims to limit the gender gap and thus provide universal equality for all citizens. Through these policies, among others, poverty in Vietnam is recognized as an important area of concern and is being addressed in new ways for future national health.

Ryan Montbleau

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Vietnam
Poverty in Vietnam still exists, but the country is a great success story. Since the beginning of political and economic reforms in 1986, Vietnam has transformed from being one of the poorest countries in the world to a lower middle-income nation. Per capita income grew from below $100 at the start of the reforms, to $1,130 by 2010. According to the World Bank, the proportion of the population in poverty has fallen from 58% in 1993 to 14.5% in 2008. Vietnam has so far attained five of its ten Millennium Development Goal targets and is working towards achieving two more by 2015.

The country has also made incredible progress in education. Primary and secondary school enrollments for the poor have reached more than 90 and 70% respectively. Rising levels of education and diversification into off-farm activities, such as working in factories, construction sites, or domestic housework have also contributed to poverty reduction.

Although Vietnam has made great progress, the country still faces challenges when tackling further poverty reduction. The prevailing poverty of the ethnic minority in Vietnam is of particular concern. Although Vietnam’s 53 ethnic minority groups make up less than 15% of the population, they accounted for almost 50% of the poor in 2010. Many continue to reside in less productive and more isolated upland regions of Vietnam.

Rising inequality in income and opportunities has also accompanied the recent economic growth and transformation. Some of the poor have limited access to high quality education, health services, and job opportunities, particularly those living in small cities or rural areas.

The Socio-Economic Development Strategy (SEDS) 2011-2012 focuses on structural reforms, social equity, environmental sustainability, and arising issues of macroeconomic stability. It defines three “breakthrough areas”: promoting human resources skills development (particularly for modern industry and innovation), improving market institutions, and infrastructure development. Vietnam aims to lay the foundations for a modern, industrialized society by 2020.

Maintaining the current pace of economic growth in Vietnam is crucial to continued poverty reduction. However, this growth must come with equity and will have to include all regions and groups in the country to become a modern, industrialized society.

– Ali Warlich 

Sources: World Bank News, World Bank Data
Photo: Asia News