Don Tuan Phong, Vice President and General Secretary of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – There is still an abundance of opportunities for foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to partner with Vietnam during the country’s development path, even after Vietnam has become a low middle-income country with less outside assistance.

The statement was made by Don Tuan Phong, Vice President and General Secretary of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations (VUFO), in an interview with the Vietnam News Agency on reviewing the VUFO’s Committee on Foreign Non-Governmental Organisation Affairs’ operations over the past 21 years from 1996 to 2017.

Phong, who is also deputy head of the committee, said that since the committee’s introduction, the number of foreign NGOs operating in Vietnam has significantly increased, while many large-scale humanitarian programmes and projects have been launched.

Aid from foreign NGOs has significantly contributed to the reduction in poverty and sustainable development of Vietnam, he said.

Phong noted that as the connection point and mobilisation agency for assistance activities, the VUFO has expanded its cooperation with foreign NGOs to call for financial resources to support the country’s socio-economic development.

The union has proposed the Government approve the national foreign NGO mobilisation programme for the upcoming period, which will give priority to foreign NGOs’ assistance activities.

Between 1996 and 2017, aid from foreign NGOs reached a total value of over 4.1 billion USD, he said, holding that this is an important resource for Vietnam to deal with socio-economic difficulties, especially in poverty production and sustainable growth.

Phong said that as Vietnam has become a low middle-income country, NGOs tend to reduce the country’s priority as they are partly funded by official development assistance (ODA).

However, Vietnam still faces many severe difficulties such as  war aftermaths and a large number of vulnerable groups including Agent Orange/dioxin victims, people with disabilities, and ethnic minority communities.

In addition there are development gaps in regions, with many localities featuring poor living conditions, as well as other non-traditional problems such as climate change consequences.

With all these challenges lying ahead, there remains much room for foreign NGOs to continue cooperating with Vietnam, stated Phong.

He asserted that foreign NGOs are still paying attention to Vietnam’s issues.

However, he underscored that the mobilisation of resources from the NGOs must change to be more suitable to the feasibility demands of specific localities, communities, and sectors. -VNA