UNDP and Netherlands Help Improve Public Service Delivery to Vietnamese Farmers
Ha Noi - The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of the Netherlands, kicked off today a new phase of an important public administration reform project to improve service delivery in rural areas, where over 70% of Vietnamese population lives.
This new effort builds on the successful first phase of the project “Support to Public Administration Reform Programme of MARD” which was supported by UNDP and the Government of the Netherlands from 2000 to 2003.
With a total contribution of US$2,330,000, the two donors continue to support the second phase of the project, which will last three years from 2003 to 2006. It will build on the achievements of the previous phase, viewed by UNDP as “one of the most successful public administration reform (PAR) initiatives Viet Nam has ever undertaken”.
Chief among these achievements are the formulation of MARD’s 5-year PAR Action Plan, which set the standard for many other Ministries. The first phase also saw the first comprehensive Survey of Farmers’ Needs ever undertaken in Viet Nam, in October 2002, which took the central ministry directly to the rice fields to learn about the current needs of its customers, the farmers.
“The Netherlands Embassy has been involved with PAR for a long time now, starting off with pilot projects in Quang Binh in 1996 and Hai Phong in 1998,” said Mr Gerben S. de Jong, Ambassador of the Netherlands in Viet Nam. “We are extremely happy that the first phase of the Support to the Public Administration Reform Programme of MARD has worked out so well. This success also reflects the support for PAR by the Government of Viet Nam. Public Administration Reform is of key importance to Viet Nam's future development and therefore deserves our full support. We sincerely hope that this second phase, with a focus on implementing the plans developed in the first phase, will be so successful as to set an example for other ministries to follow.”
The project aims to strengthen institutional and human resource capacities in MARD especially for the implementation of the Ministry PAR Action Plan 2005. Special attention will be paid to the use of Information and Communications Technologies to improve the Ministry’s management and oversight skills. The project will be part of Viet Nam's National PAR Master Programme, addressing the institutional, organisational and human resource challenges associated with Viet Nam's transition towards a market-oriented economy.
"With over 80% of Viet Nam's poor living in rural areas, MARD is one of the most important institutions in the fight against poverty", said Mr Jordan Ryan, UNDP Resident Representative. He added: “The overall reform process in Viet Nam was catapulted by the opening of the farming sector leading to a high economic growth in the first phase of Doi Moi or renovation process. Deepening this reform, especially at grassroots levels, is therefore critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and ensuring successful economic growth and human development in the years to come.”
Mr Nguyen Van Dang, member of Central Party Committee, MARD First Vice Minister and Chairman of the PAR Steering Committee of the Ministry, said MARD highly appreciated the support from the Netherlands Government and UNDP for the PAR process underway in MARD, and to the agriculture and rural sector in general. “Driven by the achievements of the first phase, the Ministry remains fully committed to the implementation of Public Administration Reform with an aim at poverty reduction and improving living standards for the rural population,” he said.
MARD also can play a key role in holding in check and perhaps reversing the growing rural-urban divide in Viet Nam. As the rural population grows, and less new land becomes available for cultivation, unemployment and underemployment - as high as 30 % - have become widespread. This situation has resulted in large-scale unplanned migration to cities, challenging the urban economic and social fabric.
The challenges to balanced development and social progress are even greater with the advent of Viet Nam’s international integration, which is likely to have a direct and immediate effect on farmers, especially the poor. These changes require an effective and responsive MARD that can help Vietnamese farmers capitalize on the opportunities and respond appropriately to the challenges of globalization.