High-level forum looks at ethnic minority poverty

Dec 3, 2010

Ha Noi – With the support of the UN, a policy forum on ethnic minority and poverty reduction issues was held today, organized by the Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA). The event brought together senior government officials, including Mr. Giàng Seo Phử, Chairperson of CEMA and Mr. K’Sor Phước, Chair of the National Assembly’s Ethnic Council, as well as researchers and representatives from non-governmental organizations and the international community. The discussion at the forum focused on current and emerging ethnic minority development issues in Viet Nam, as well as findings from recently conducted research.

Speaking at the forum, Minister Giang Seo Phu stressed: “The rate of poverty reduction for ethnic minority people is much slower that the national average poverty reduction rate and different ethnic groups have not benefited equally from economic growth. Life expectancy, nutrition and other aspects of the life of the majority of ethnic minority groups remain very low. This alerts us to the fact that without big changes in the poverty reduction strategies of the country, in the near future, the majority of poor people in Viet Nam will be those in ethnic minority and mountainous areas.”

According to John Hendra, UN Resident Coordinator, if ethnic minority poverty is to be effectively addressed in the future, new approaches need to be considered. “Future poverty reduction is likely to be much more difficult, more complex and more costly than before and hence calls for new and fresh thinking,” he said. “I would like to underline that the experience of poverty amongst different ethnic minority groups is extremely diverse. This means that culturally sensitive and context specific targeting measures will increasingly be necessary in order to reduce poverty further, achieve economic, social and cultural development and to efficiently use allocated financial resources.”

The poverty rate in ethnic minority and mountainous areas remains high – 31.2% in 2009, which is 2.5 times higher than the average national poverty rate. Rapid and sustainable poverty reduction for ethnic minority and mountainous areas is therefore important to address in the 2011-2015 period.

The forum is part of the UN’s support to the government to hold regular policy dialogues, through which high-level policy makers, researchers and other partners can discuss critical issues and policy developments that affect ethnic minorities.

See also:
Speech by UN Resident Coordinator at the policy forum

Photo: The poverty rate in ethnic minority and mountainous areas is 2.5 times higher than the average national rate.