New understandings of poverty help target drought recovery efforts

“We got married about 10 years ago, however as we didn’t have land, we lived with my parent-in-laws. According to the old poverty criteria, we didn’t make the list and so we were unable to receive local authority support. However this year, with the new criteria, we now qualify,” Dan said. Photo: Phan Huong Giang/UNDP Viet Nam

In the past families were identified as poor simply by measuring their level of income. But thanks to a new ‘multi-dimensional approach to poverty’ recently introduced nationwide by the Government of Viet Nam, more vulnerable families are able to receive emergency support.

Highlights

  • In the past families were identified as poor simply by measuring their level of income
  • The United Nations Development Programme in Viet Nam (UNDP) started assessing poverty using new criteria since 2009 in Ho Chi Minh City.Technical support was provided to the Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs to build the multi-dimensional poverty measure
  • According to results of the 2015 census on the poor and near-poor households approved by the Government recently, the poverty rate has risen from less than 5% in 2015 to nearly 10% in 2016 after the multidimensional poverty measure is applied. This has also meant that more vulnerable families have been identified to receive emergency relief and support from the government and international organizations.

Le Thi Yen Dan and her family, fighting the ongoing drought in Ben Tre, are amongst to benefit from this new approach. “We got married about 10 years ago, however as we didn’t have land, we lived with my parent-in-laws. According to the old poverty criteria, we didn’t make the list and so we were unable to receive local authority support. However this year, with the new criteria, we now qualify,” Dan said.

The United Nations Development Programme in Viet Nam (UNDP) started assessing poverty using new criteria since 2009 in Ho Chi Minh City. Technical support was provided to the Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs to build the multi-dimensional poverty measure. The measure is based on 5 dimensions including access to health, education, housing, clean water and hygiene, and access to information. Accordingly, the official multidimensional poverty standards have been issued for the period 2016-2020.

2016 is the first year that the multi-dimensional poverty measure has been used throughout the country. According to results of the 2015 census on the poor and near-poor households approved by the Government recently, the poverty rate has risen from less than 5% in 2015 to nearly 10% in 2016 after the multidimensional poverty measure is applied. This has also meant that more vulnerable families have been identified to receive emergency relief and support from the government and international organizations.

“During the terrible drought and saline intrusion this year, we received support from the government and charity organizations. They provided us with bottles of fresh water, a big water tank, 10 kg rice and other supplies that have helped us overcome these difficult times. This means a great deal to us because we didn’t have enough money to buy fresh water or to build a cement water tank”, Dan said.

To provide support to the most vulnerable families affected by the drought and saline intrusion in Bến Tre, UNDP Viet Nam, with co-financing by DFAT has been providing emergency relief, and implemented through Oxfam and the Viet Nam Red Cross. Once the most urgent needs were identified, over 436 poor and vulnerable households in Ben Tre Province were provided with fresh water and water tanks, and other emergency support.