UNDP gives poor avoice in poverty reduction efforts

Jun 11, 2002

Ha Noi - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today launched a US$2.5 million project to assist the Government in its nation-wide effort to combat poverty. This 3.5-year project will help improve the design, implementation, and monitoring of the 5-year National Target Programme on Hunger Eradication, Poverty Reduction and Job Creation. The National Target Programme, which plans to spend over $2 billion, forms an important part of Viet Nam's recently approved Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy.

This project will assist government agencies to improve the quality of Hunger Eradication and Poverty Reduction (HEPR) interventions, drawing on the experience and knowledge of the intended beneficiaries and UNDP's previous work in provinces. Jordan Ryan, UNDP Resident Representative, who signed the project today with the Minister of MOLISA, emphasised the importance of participation and "local ownership" in poverty-focused programs at all levels. "Targeted efforts are important but only if they reach the poorest, and only if they respond to the real needs of the poor who know poverty best. By ensuring that the poor have a real say in what affects their lives, HEPR will be more effective and efficient", said Ryan.

The project will strengthen capacities of HEPR staff, and establish an inter-agency system for poverty monitoring and programme interventions' evaluation. Lessons learned, and policy gaps will be identified for timely adjustments.

An integral part of the project will be to review and improve the social safety nets for the poor and vulnerable groups. Viet Nam continues to become more economically integrated because of trade agreements and World Trade Organization accession negotiations. "Globalization presents great opportunities for Viet Nam and its people, but significant challenges must be overcome," said Mr. Ryan. "An effective social security system is needed to protect people from falling back into poverty, as well as to lift up people from poverty."

The project also funds further research and studies to foster debate and help formulate better policies. It will look more deeply at the poverty situation throughout the country, and pay special attention to the issue of increased inequality. The new UNDP effort will examine the impact of reforms from multiple perspectives, including gender. The new project also continues to support the National Center for Social Sciences and Humanities in producing Viet Nam Human Development Reports every two years.

The Government estimates that 17 percent of Viet Nam's population lives in poverty. It made a strong commitment to eradicate hunger and halve the poverty rate by 2015. The 5-year National Target Programme, approved in September 2001, will help the Government achieve the poverty reduction target. An inter-ministerial board was established by the Prime Minister, with MOLISA and MPI as focal points for coordinating the implementation of this USD2 billion government funded programme.
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