Reviewing poverty reduction in Viet Nam

23 Nov 2009

Although Viet Nam has already achieved the MDG goal of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, ethnic minority and mountainous areas still have a high concentration of poverty. The Government has invested significant resources in these areas through a number of programmes, of which the Programme for Socio-Economic Development of Communes Facing Extreme Difficulties (Programme 135, Phase II) in particular has made a significant contribution to poverty reduction. To help monitor the progress of Programme 135, Phase II (P135-II), the Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) conducted a baseline survey, with technical assistance from UNDP. Published on 19 November, the survey contains the best quality data on the situation of ethnic minorities compiled to date and provides a comprehensive picture of socio-economic development in the poorest communes of Viet Nam in the early implementation period of P135-II.

Also launched on 19 November were joint mid-term reviews of P135-II and the National Target Programme on Poverty Reduction – conducted under the leadership of MOLISA and CEMA, with technical support from UNDP, UNICEF and other development partners.
The P135-II review report shows some encouraging improvements of P135-II – both in terms of design and implementation. For instance, implementation and management of the programme has now been decentralized, enabling communes and villages to act as the ‘owners’ of development activities. More effort has also been made to support livelihood improvement for poor ethnic minority people, beyond a focus on just infrastructure development. The reports also demonstrate room for improvement. For example, more effort is still needed to ensure that local people fully become the owners of their own development and that they are able to define and implement development activities that best meet their unique needs.
In addition, the consolidated review report demonstrates how the relatively high number of poverty reduction programmes, projects and policies in Viet Nam leads to fragmented support, as well as overlaps and high management and administration costs. More work is still needed to further harmonize, simplify and coordinate all these poverty reduction efforts.  
All the reports are available on the UNDP website.