Last updated: Friday, June 14, 2013
Challenges to Poverty Reduction in Vietnam CountrysidePosted: Tuesday, June 05, 2012
Poverty reduction is an urgent priority for Vietnam and the Government needs a breakthrough poverty strategy because currents methods are losing their effect. This is a recommendation in a report recently released by Oxfam and ActionAid International Vietnam (AAV) ahead of the mid-term Consultative Group (CG) Meeting held in Quang Tri province from June 4 to 5, 2012. This report is financially supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
The report “Looking ahead: Challenges to countryside poverty reduction” updated poverty monitoring results, using co-joining methods in some rural communities from 2007 to 2011. This is an extremely difficult period for poverty reduction in Vietnam because escalating inflation, global financial crisis, economic recession, natural disasters, epidemics and other woes had direct impacts on the livelihood of every citizen, especially the poor. Nonetheless, poverty rate (by income) in this period continued to decrease. Huge investments by the Government helped the poor with a better access to infrastructure, economic opportunities, non-agricultural jobs, education, health, lending, farming and forestry extension, and housing. 55 percent of households in this study felt that their lives were "better" in the last five years.
However, the report noted that challenges of poverty reduction still existed. The number of the poor in the countryside was down but uneven. According to the report, nearly two out of five respondents were unaware or uncertain of changes in their lives and up to 9 percent said that their lives were worse in the last five years. Chronic poverty was more focused, especially in places where ethnic minority people lived. Although the Government made efforts to escape poverty, according to results collected in survey areas, 16 percent of people did not enough food in nearly 5 months a year, the rate of malnourished children aged under 5 remained high (a quarter of children were undernourished), 42 percent of families did not have access to clean water, and four out of five families did not have toilets or used temporary toilets. The people living in near-poverty line were easily returned to the poverty territory due to high inflation, global economic crisis, natural disasters and epidemics. These were also old and new risks challenging poverty reduction in Vietnam.
“To recognise and tackle on-going and emerging forms of poverty and injustice, Vietnam needs to have broader understanding of poverty because poverty is multi-dimensional and the drivers and causes of poverty are diverse and complex,” said Ms Hoang Phuong Thao, Chief Representative of ActionAid International Vietnam (AAV). The groups of chronic poverty, vulnerable poverty, temporary poverty, and near poverty need to have different approaches, policies and public investments should be more focused to be more effective. No access to employment opportunities and lack of voice to have better choices and interest requirements importantly contributed to poverty status. In addition, Vietnam needs to have better understanding and evaluation of needs and wants of different communities and ethnic minority groups. Another aspect needed to be taken into consideration was the relationship between labour migration and poverty reduction in both rural and urban areas. According to the report, labour mobility in the past five years played an important role in rural poverty reduction although migrants were often discriminated when they accessed basic services. Therefore, the Government should have policies to encourage and assist them to find jobs and ensure safe jobs.
The report also presents a number of recommendations toward sustainable poverty reduction in Vietnam’s rural areas, particularly mountainous ethnic minority areas. Vigorous support policies are needed, including core changes to the approach, strategy and delivery of social assistance programmes to be expanded to cover different segments of poor people. New innovations, such as direct cash transfers, should be piloted, with a particular focus on food insecure households and ethnic minority communities. “Payment levels need to keep pace with the overall increases in cost of living and graduation mechanisms should be in place to continue to support people as their lift themselves out of poverty,” said Oxfam’s Country Director, Andy Baker. To support farmers, agricultural extension services should be reformed, particularly in mountainous ethnic minority areas. Training approaches should be more participatory and field school based. Projects aiming at improving and changing livelihood models of the poor people should pay special attention to the needs of both women and men farmers, should consider low-cost investment models, and suitability to conditions and livelihood strategies of poor ethnic minorities.