Cultural understandings of development processes key to lifting ethnic minorities from poverty

19 May 2014

imagePhoto: UNDP Viet Nam/ Shutterstock

Ha Noi, 19 May 2014 – As absolute poverty in Viet Nam is increasingly an ethnic minority phenomenon with one-in-two poor people from ethnic minority groups, representatives from the National Assembly, the Government, civil society and development partners gathered in Ha Noi to find ways to tackle this entrenched problem. The forum highlighted the need to empower people and develop culturally-appropriate understandings of development processes.

Overlap and duplication of content in poverty reduction policies

“The National Assembly Supreme Oversight Mission on poverty reduction work in 2014 found an obvious overlap and duplication of content in poverty reduction policies for ethnic minority groups,” Mr Nguyen Danh Ut, Vice Chair of the National Assembly’s Ethnic Council,  said. “Although there have been changes towards improving the quality of poverty reduction and switching to sustainable poverty reduction targets, the current poverty reduction policies are not able to resolve these fundamental challenges”.

Mr Son Phuoc Hoan, Vice Minister Committee of Ethnic Minority Affairs, said current poverty reduction policies posed questions about their appropriateness for the diverse cultural and traditional livelihood characteristics of ethnic minority groups.

More disaggregated and nuanced approach needed
“These will be significant barriers to achieving poverty reduction targets and the country’s development if we fail to find appropriate approaches to mobilize the active participation of people, to tap into the strength and resources of communities during the poverty reduction and development process in coming time.”

“Government and development partners acknowledge that poverty reduction in Viet Nam has reached a point where a more disaggregated and nuanced approach is needed,” said Ireland’s Ambassador Damien Cole, who is also Chair of Ethnic Minority Poverty Working Group.

People as agents of change
Ms Louise Chamberlain, UN Development Programme Country Director in Viet Nam, said policies and programmes should serve as enablers to the capacity of individuals and communities to overcome disadvantages. “Ethnic minorities should not been seen merely as targets of policy, but rather as agents of change, able to contribute to and participate in their own development, and that of Viet Nam at large,” she noted.

Cultural understanding key to success
Ms Chamberlain also highlighted the need to embrace, and respect cultural diversity and develop culturally appropriate understandings of development processes. “Growing evidence shows that contextualization is needed if ethnic groups are to participate in and benefit from national economic development,” Ms Chamberlain said.

More information?
For further information, please read the press release and the speaking points by UNDP Country Director, Louise Chamberlain, at the Annual Ethnic Minority Policy Forum.