Taking Stock, Planning Ahead to Achieving the MDGs

Nov 24, 2004

Ha Noi - The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) jointly launched the evaluation report ("Taking Stock, Planning Ahead") of the National Targeted Programme (NTP) on Hunger Eradication and Poverty Reduction Programme (HEPR) and Programme 135. The independent evaluation was conducted during 2003-04 by a team of national and international consultants coordinated by the UNDP-supported project, VIE/02/001 “Support to the Improvement and Implementation of the National HEPR Targeted Programme”.

The evaluation of the two programmes aimed to assess their performance and effectiveness in reducing poverty in Viet Nam and draw lessons for designing the NTP on Poverty Reduction for the period 2006-2010. The evaluation report focused on the key aspects of the NTP on HEPR and Programme 135 such as impact and efficiency, decentralization and participation, targeting and management.

At the opening of the launching ceremony, Dr. Dam Huu Dac, MOLISA Vice Minister, said: “The independent evaluation of the implementation of policies and projects in both of these programmes is very necessary and timely. This exercise has involved a wide range of stakeholders, and has served as a good learning process for, different stakeholders, both national and international”.

The evaluation concludes that:

  • Each of the sub-programmes in the NTP on HEPR, namely credit, health and tuition exemptions are reasonably well targeted. While 70% of the benefits of these programmes reach the poor in each case, their coverage of the total poor households remains limited.
  • Programme 135, using rather simple and straightforward funding approaches, covers nearly a quarter of all communes – reaching thereby about 15% of the total population. As more than half of these households are below poverty line , P135 is fairly well targeted.  
  • Support in health care, tuition waivers and infrastructure have a considerably greater positive impact on the poor than credit and farming extension services.

The evaluation draws attention to the need to properly address the issues of adequate funding and clear and simple and flexible approaches to targeting in designing the new national targeted programme on poverty alleviation.

The report acknowledges that both the NTP for HEPR and Programme 135 have been managed and implemented in a decentralized manner, and provincial People’s Committees (PCs), have had considerable discretion in allocating funds. However, most funds allocated to HEPR projects are still controlled by the provincial and district sector departments, even though the responsibility for implementing the programme lies with the communes. Programme 135 intends to decentralize the management and implementation to the commune level. Nevertheless, by 2003, only 385 out of 2,362 (or only 16%) of the “poorest and most difficult communes” in 20 out of 49 provinces under P135 were direct “investment holders”. The implementation of the Grassroots democracy Decree and programmes encouraging local communities’ participation in, for example, identifying poor households and choosing among the range of local infrastructure projects has strengthened the programme. These elements will form the basis of future efforts. Consolidating the HEPR programme around its most effective components, adopting the transparent funding approach of the 135 programme, simplifying and strengthening programme management structure, the development of strong monitoring and evaluation systems and greater transparency are among the recommendations of the evaluation report. 

Commenting on these issues, Madam Nguyen Thi Hang, MOLISA Minister, emphasized: “Learning from the evaluation’s findings, the new Poverty Reduction programme in 2006-2010 should focus on improving existing targeting mechanisms. In other words, the new programme will have to be designed so that all of the targeted poor, and especially the poorest women and men, girls and boys, can assess and benefit directly from programme interventions.” She urged: “There is a need for more simple, participatory, flexible and equitable ways of allocating programme resources to allow local people to effectively utilize these resources to meet their needs and priorities”.

Madame Hang expressed sincere thanks to UNDP and other donors for their support during the evaluation process and reassured them that lessons learned from the evaluation will be taken into account in the process of designing a new Poverty Reduction Programme over period of 2006-2010. She also called for continued assistance, not only during the design process, but also during the implementation phase.

UNDP Resident Representative, United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Mr. Jordan Ryan, said that the evaluation process has been a good indication of openness and commitment from the Government of Viet Nam to collaborate with the UN and donor community to improve further existing programmes in order to contribute significantly to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. He stressed that  learning from the evaluation, especially lessons relating to decentralization, participation and strengthening local capacity, is indeed very important for the design and implementation of the future programme. “Concrete mechanisms to enable local people, especially the poorest women and men, and their organizations to participate meaningfully in making decisions at all stages of the programmes; transparent, decentralized and simple mechanisms for fund allocation and management, strengthening capacity of local governments on management and people-elected bodies on oversight should be key elements to ensure that the new programme will be effective in reducing poverty”, Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Ryan, said: “The evaluation is another example of the close cooperation between the Government of Viet Nam and UNDP. We in UNDP and the UN feel an obligation to continue and further deepen this cooperation to support the Government of Viet Nam in strengthening national capacity for designing and implementing the new national target programme for poverty reduction. We strongly believe that, together, we can give the new programme greater focus in delivering the assistance and services to the poorest women, men and children to help them not only to survive but also to be able to catch up with, actively participate in, and contribute to the national socio-economic development process.”

Contact informationMs. Le Viet Hoa, Project Manager, VIE/02/001
Tel. (84-04) 9362226, extension 103, email: le.viet.hoa@undp.org
Mr. Do Thanh Lam, Programme Officer, UNDP
tel. (84-04) 942 1495, extension 212, email: do.thanh.lam@undp.org.