Ministry officials and representatives from United Nations agencies gathered in Hanoi on May 25 to discuss the future directions of the national poverty reduction programme during 2011-2020.

According to officials from the Ministries of Planning and Investment (MPI) and Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), the government of Vietnam has always tried to make sure economic development go hand in hand with poverty reduction and empowerment for disadvantaged groups of people, including children, women, the disabled and ethnic minority people.

Vietnam’s achievements in poverty reduction has won international acclamation. United Nations Resident Coordinator John Hendra praised Vietnam for being the first country in the world to achieve the first Millennium Development Goal - eliminating extreme poverty and hunger.

The achievement is attributable to direct contributions of poverty-related policies and programmes that have been implemented effectively over the recent past.

They include the national target programme for poverty reduction, the socio-economic development programmes for disadvantaged communes and ethnic minority areas, and the support programme for the fast and sustainable poverty reduction in 62 poor districts.

However, international experts said the limited Government resources are currently spread thinly among an increasing number of often fragmented programmes and policies. The mid-term reviews for the programmes have shown substantial overlaps and lack of coordination have resulted in low efficiency and limited impact.

As a result, Resident Coordinator John Hendra said, many ethnic minority and mountainous areas are falling further and further behind the rest of the country in terms of socio-economic development.

He suggested that the existing poverty reduction programmes and policies be combined under one master programme or framework to reduce overlap and improve coordination and enhance efficiency.

He also stressed the necessity to enhance the capacity of ethnic minority people for them to take a more active role in the equitable and inclusive socio-economic development of their communities.

The UN Coordinator recommended that Vietnam review and adopt more inclusive, universal and self-targeted poverty reduction approaches which have been applied successfully in other countries./.