The HCM City Fund for the Poor has helped raise the incomes of 103,720 poor households, or 5.68 percent of the population, a city official has said.

Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, deputy secretary of the city's Party Committee, said that the fundraising campaign for the poor had received donations of more than 740 billion VND (35.5 million USD) since it was initiated in 2001 by the Vietnam Fatherland Front's HCM City Chapter.

The poverty line for families in the city is equivalent to an annual income of 12 million VND (571 USD) per person.

At a conference held on May 10 to review 10 years of the fundraising campaign, Ha said that more than 23,000 new houses were built for war invalids and martyrs' and poor families, and more than 10,000 dilapidated houses were repaired by the fund over the past 10 years.

A total of 305,820 scholarships were handed out to disadvantaged students to reduce the rate of drop-outs in the city.

Nearly 7,500 students have received bicycles and bus tickets so that they could travel to schools more easily.

Free-interest loans worth nearly 13 billion VND (625,000 USD) were also provided to poor households to start businesses.

As of the end of last year, the city had helped more than 46,100 households to raise the average yearly income to more than 12 million VND per person.

"The fund, which has great political and social significance, has received donation from organisations, enterprises and individuals at home and abroad," Ha said. "It contributed significantly to the city's efforts on assisting war invalids and martyrs' families as well as disadvantaged families in the city and neighbouring provinces."

Over the 10-year period, a variety of charity activities were held to raise funds for the poor, including musical and art performances, walk campaigns and bike rides.

She asked State agencies and organisations to closely coordinate with the Vietnam Fatherland Front at all levels to develop the campaign for the poor to help the city ensure social welfare and security. /.