The Vietnamese Party and State have always given the top priority to sustainable and comprehensive poverty reduction in their development policies with a view to ensuring human rights and implementing Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations.

Vietnam has made marked progress in poverty reduction, completing the MDG in this field ahead of schedule thanks to a good economic growth, the right policy priority and concerted efforts in implementing social welfare policies.

The World Bank’s Country Director in Vietnam Victoria Kwakwa noted that while in 1993, Vietnam was one of the poorest countries in the world with per capita income of around 100 USD and low social indicators, today it is an emerging middle-income countries, with a 154 billion USD economy and per capita income of 1,700 USD. The rate of poor households dropped from 58 percent in 1993 to around 10 percent in 2010, with more than 30 million people escaping poverty. The country’s social indicators now are better than that of most other countries of the same or even higher income. Vietnam has achieved five out of the eight MDGs and is on the way to fulfil the remaining three by 2015.

Vietnam’s poverty reduction policies and programmes are designed on the basis of three major strategies of promoting production to improve livelihood for the poor, enhancing the poor’s access to social services, and strengthening their capacity and awareness.

The policies and programmes can be divided into five main groups: credit, agricultural production, infrastructure, education and health care, which give the poor access to resources (capital, land for production, technology and market) and basic social services such as education, health care, clean water and legal assistance. As of 2010, more than 77 percent of the poor nationwide benefited from the government’s support programmes.

The most outstanding poverty reduction programme was the one targeting 62 poorest districts, which integrated a wide range of socio-economic activities, such as developing infrastructure at communes, credit, health insurance, education, housing, environment and agriculture promotion, to name just a few.

The programme has achieved the overall target of reducing poverty, increasing the income and improving living standards of the poor and vulnerable communities in the target areas.

During recent years, Vietnam continues to give priority to social security and welfare despite economic difficulties. As a result, the rate of poor households further dropped from 13.7 percent in 2008 to 9.6 percent in 2012 and is expected to reduce to 7.6-7.8 percent by the end of this year. Average income of poor households has almost doubled over the past five years. It is noteworthy that not only a large number of people have risen out of poverty but the living standards and quality of the poor have also seen remarkable improvement. More than 1 million poor households have been given preferential loans to start production and more than half a million received housing support.

With its achievement in poverty reduction, Vietnam was among 38 countries honoured by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in June this year.-VNA