In-depth

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An Giang and Kien Giang provinces, Me Kong Delta. © United Nations Viet Nam\2010\Aidan Dockery

The MDG factsheets for Viet Nam reveal that while Viet Nam succeeded in reducing poverty from 58 to 14 per cent between 1993-2008 and an independently estimated 11.8 per cent in 2011 , there is growing disparity between regions and population groups. The poverty rate is still high and chronic poverty persists, particularly among ethnic minority groups and in mountainous, disadvantaged areas which are isolated – economically, geographically, linguistically and socially. As of 2012, more than half of ethnic minority people still lived below the general poverty line and lagged behind the national averages in almost all MDGs. Urban poverty among vulnerable groups, such as non-registered migrants and workers in informal sectors with non-monetary dimensions such as education, health and housing, is starting to emerge. The challenges in sustaining poverty reduction and progress in other MDGs have become acute in the context of the global and domestic financial crises, macroeconomic instability and more severe natural disasters as a result of climate change.

Meeting these challenges head-on  demands more innovative and multi-sectoral approaches where poverty is viewed as a multi-dimensional phenomenon, not just in monetary terms. While fast economic growth is needed to sustain human development, it must be equitable and inclusive to provide equal opportunities for all regions and population groups in Viet Nam to contribute and benefit from development. On the other hand, tackling inequality, increasing inclusiveness and enhancing people’s capacity and opportunities to participate in decision-making that affects their lives will help address the structural problems behind Viet Nam’s macroeconomic instability and resulting decline in growth and competitiveness.  

Therefore, inclusive and equitable growth for human development, acceleration of poverty reduction and progress in achieving MDGs in the country’s poorest areas and among ethnic minorities are at the core of UNDP’s advocacy and programming in Viet Nam, while improved living conditions for all Vietnamese remains an overarching goal in UNDP-Vietnamese cooperation in this programmatic focus area.

From a human development perspective, UNDP provides quality policy support in the form of national human development reports, policy research papers and inclusive policy debates for identification of issues and formulation of feasible solutions, such as in the Socio-Economic Development Strategy (SEDS) 2011-2020, national poverty reduction policies and programmes. Our work continues with contributions to the mid-term reviews of the Socio-Economic Development Plan 2011-2015 and SEDS, formulation and implementation of social assistance policy reforms and action to accelerate MDG progress in the country’s poorest and often ethnic minority-dominated areas.

UNDP has been a key partner of Viet Nam in the delivery of poverty and hunger reduction strategies and programmes since 1993 and today is amplifying disadvantaged people’s voices through participation, empowerment and local capacity building as key elements of national sustainable poverty reduction programmes. Innovative solutions such as multi-dimensional poverty measurements, decentralized approaches and greater participation of the poor and civil organizations as well as participatory policy dialogues will continue making visible contributions to achieving the Government’s ambitious goal of reducing poverty in the poorest ethnic minority areas by 4 per cent annually, double the average national target.

We also help the Government and partners measure progress and map a future sustainable socio-economic development path by strengthening national capacity for collecting, disseminating and analyzing development data, especially with regards to progress towards poverty reduction, MDG and human development targets. The Viet Nam Statistical Development Strategy, formulated and implemented with UNDP’s support, is a key tool to engineer coherent development data and is seen as a key achievement by stakeholders as are the issuance of a data dissemination policy, the ongoing revision of the Law on Statistics and production of valuable national MDG reports.
In delivering our assistance across a broad spectrum of areas, UNDP works in close partnership with other UN agencies under the One UN initiative for Viet Nam and its people to benefit from our comparative advantages and build for a better future.

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