Meeting the future needs of Viet Nam's rural poor

Jun 28, 2000

Ha Noi - Assisting the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to improve the functioning of its administrative system so it can better meet the needs of the rural population is the aim of a new United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project, which was signed here today.

"With ninety per cent of Viet Nam's poor living in rural areas, MARD is one of the most important institutions in Viet Namÿs fight against poverty", said Mr Edouard Wattez, UNDP Resident Representative, speaking at the project's signing ceremony.

The principal objective of the project is to improve the functioning of the administrative system in the Ministry so that it can effectively promote socio-economic development and better serve its 'clients'. This is especially important at the grassroots level and in the rural areas where more than 75 per cent of Viet Nam's population lives.

The project is being funded with generous financial support of over 1,496,800 USD from the Government of the Netherlands.

Specifically, the project seeks to define the role of MARD as a unique corporate entity in charge of Viet Nam's broad agricultural and rural development issues. The project will also define and delineate the functions and responsibilities of MARD in relation to those of other Ministries and agencies and those of Provincial Peopleÿs Committees and the Provincial Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The project also aims to strengthen institutional and human resource capacities in MARD, as well as developing an information exchange strategy, based on the newly re-defined roles and functions of the Ministry.

As a whole, the project will be part of Viet Nam's programme of Public Administration Reform, addressing the institutional, organisational and human resource challenges associated with Viet Nam's transition towards a more market-oriented economy.

In fact, MARD itself is a tangible outcome of this public administration reform process, as the Ministry was created in 1995 as a result of the merging of three pre-existing ministries œ the Ministry for Agriculture and Food Industry, the Ministry for Forestry and the Ministry for Water Resources.

"This merger was one of the first prudent steps taken by the Government to create a more rationally structured public administration", said Mr Wattez of UNDP. "And it is the ambition of this project to make the benefits of this positive fusion even more tangible"
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