MPI/UNDP new initiative to integrate grassroots successes into poverty reduction strategy

12 Apr 2002

Ha Noi - Successful experiences at the grassroots level - from women small loan schemes to local road construction efforts - will be identified and integrated into Viet Nam's poverty reduction strategy under a new initiative launched today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The US$1million-UNDP project will help bring provinces together to discuss and identify successful poverty reduction models and initiatives at local level and raise them to the national policy making level for wider dissemination and institutionalization.

"In my recent visit to Tuyen Quang province, where UNDP helped the province to effectively implement small investment funds", recalled UNDP Resident Representative Jordan Ryan, "I saw the confidence of local men and women when they talked about Village Development Boards, Water Users' Associations, and Women's Credit and Savings Groups. I also saw that many local women went beyond their traditional domestic sphere to participate in community activities, to help themselves and to help others." Ryan added, "Poverty reduction is working in Viet Nam, and people are leading richer lives".

However, evidence suggests these successes have often remained confined to the individual projects and provinces. They have not been systematically taken into account by policy-makers in the design of national poverty reduction strategies. The current decentralisation process is often confined to the provincial level. Greater autonomy in planning and financial management is required at the district and commune level to reach out to the poorest and ethnic minority groups. These include landless and small landholders, women-headed families, and people in the most remote communities with extremely difficult living conditions.

The new UNDP project will also provide assistance to the implementation of IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) projects, including the Ha Tinh Rural Development Project in the first year and other provinces in the following years. These projects will support and enhance the Government's policies of poverty alleviation and hunger eradication in disadvantaged areas.

With almost 80% of the population living in rural areas, rural transformation and poverty reduction are priority issues of Vietnam. The government's poverty reduction strategy for the period 2001-2010 is aimed at reducing the number of poor households to below 5% (based on new poverty line) and ensuring full access for poor households to basic social services. This translates into a reduction rate in poverty of 1.5% to 2% or 250,000 to 280,000 households per annum.

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