Poverty reduction in Vietnam – successes, challenges

 Vietnam’s poverty reduction efforts have made remarkable progress over recent years, but the country still faces several challenges in its bid to execute all of its United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

 Vietnam’s poverty reduction efforts have made remarkable progress over recent years, but the country still faces several challenges in its bid to execute all of its United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 

Vietnam has succeeded in economic development and poverty reduction over the last 20 years, said Vu Hoang Linh, an economic expert from the World Bank (WB), at a conference themed “ The 10-year Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy ” recently held by the Communist Review. 

Vietnam has become a lower middle-income country (MIC). Just 25 years ago it was one of the world’s poorest. Per capita income has grown from below 100 USD to today’s figure of 1,200 USD. 

According to an assessment by the WB entitled “Well begun, not yet done: Vietnam's remarkable poverty reduction progress and the emerging challenges”, the country’s rate of poor households dropped from 60 to 20.7 percent during the 1990-2010 period, with more than 30 million people escaping poverty. 

Vietnam has recently been recognised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) as one of 38 nations around the world to have made significant achievements in the fight against poverty. It also belongs to a group of 18 countries awarded a certificate of merit for reaching the MDG 1 - which looks to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015. 

The aforementioned achievements are attributed to the country’s comprehensive strategies on economic growth and poverty reduction, in line with global trends. 

Although Vietnam has to deal with economic difficulties, the Communist Party of Vietnam ( CPV ) and the State have highlighted their continued priority of hunger elimination and poverty reduction. 

Vietnam ’s poor household proportion has seen a positive reduction from 14.2 percent in 2010 to 9.6 in 2012, beyond the goal set by the National Assembly. 

Various programmes and policies on poverty reduction have been promulgated in line with each national phase of development. The positive outcomes of the work partly accelerate economic growth and ensure social equality and welfare for local people in extremely difficult areas. 

However, the programmes on sustainable poverty reduction still have shortcomings that need surmounting. 

In fact, the country has seen poverty reduction in a quick but unsustainable manner, while the gap between the rich and the poor has not been reduced yet, especially in northern mountainous and Central Highlands provinces. 

The rate of poor households is still more than 50 percent and from 60-70 percent in several localities. 

A major reason for the aforesaid reality is the overlaps in mechanisms and policies, which make ineffective use of resources. Meanwhile, many localities still rely on State support. 

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh, who is the Chairman of the Central Steering Committee on Sustainable Poverty Reduction for the 2011-2020 period, said the State, society and community need to be aware of their responsibility in reducing poverty and join hands to help people escape from poverty in a sustainable manner. 

Deputy PM Ninh required ministries, agencies and localities to continue checking and perfecting the establishment of mechanisms and policies on sustainable poverty reduction and new support policies in connection with expanding the number of households that have just escaped from poverty and those close to the poverty line to prevent them from relapsing into poverty. 

Ministries, agencies and localities are also asked to promote vocational training and job generation, support agricultural production and development in rural areas, and establish links between the sectors of science and technology , production and construction, especially those in agricultural and rural areas. 

By the end of this year, Vietnam targets to cut two percent of the poor household rate from 9.6 to 7.6 percent. 

The rate of poor households in poor districts is expected to see a five percent decrease, from 43.89 percent in 2012 to 38.89 percent in 2013. 

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs suggested the Government should research, adjust and add several detailed mechanisms and policies to enable households leaving poverty to benefit from poverty-reduction policies for an additional two or three years. 

Households that are close to the poverty line and living in extremely difficult and remote areas in mountainous northern provinces and the Central Highlands will be given access to free health insurance cards. 

With the efforts of both the political system and people, the work of poverty reduction is believed to progress and surmount impending shortcomings and difficulties. 

Vietnam’s rate of poor households is scheduled to fall to less than five percent by late 2015 based on current poverty standards while the rate in districts is below 30 percent.-VNA

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