National Conference Focuses on Communes with Extreme Difficulties

21 Jun 2005

Ha Noi A National Conference opened this morning to discuss the draft document for the Socio-economic Development Programme 2006-2010 for Communes with Extreme Difficulties in Ethnic Minority and Mountainous areas. The Conference, organized by the Committee of Ethnic Minorities with support from the United Nations’ Development Programmes (UNDP) and Children's Fund (UNICEF), gathered officials from concerned ministries, agencies and provinces throughout Viet Nam as well as representatives from embassies, UN agencies, and international non-governmental organizations.

The discussion is the final one in a series of consultations on the new programme, known as Post Programme 135, before it is submitted to the Prime Minister by the end of this month. The consultation process aims to seek opinions of officials and people from different regions to make sure that the new programme best meets the needs of local poor people. The previous consultations took place in Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Noi and Dac Lak province. UNDP and UNICEF are providing technical support for the designing and consultation process of the new phase of the Government’s poverty reduction programmes. 

According to Chairman of the State Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs, Minister Ksor Phuoc, the Post Programme 135 aims to reduce the persistent poverty prevalence in the mountainous and ethnic minority areas. “The Programme mainly focuses on addressing priority issues related to enhancing production, further improving support policies (outreach to villages), training for local and community officials, and at the same time, helping address pressing difficulties in people’s lives, increasing their access to social services, and improving their social and cultural life,” Mr Ksor Phuoc said.

UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam, Mr Jordan Ryan, applauded the Committee of Ethnic Minorities for their continued and consistent efforts in opening up the development process of the Post Programme 135. “We greatly value the spirit of openness and cooperation that characterizes the whole design process of this new programme,” he said. “Thanks to the well-organized and participatory consultation process, the draft programme document already includes many lessons learned from the past.”  

Mr Jordan Ryan noted: “We must not forget that extreme poverty still exists in Viet Nam. Ethnic minorities, people living in the Central Highlands and Northwest region are still among the poorest.  It’s important that the targeting mechanism of the Post Programme 135, as well as its monitoring and evaluation, budget allocation and financial management, be improved so that the assistance goes to people most in need.”

A UNDP-supported evaluation of the two National Targeted Programmes (Programme 135 and National Targeted Programme for Hunger Eradication and Poverty Reduction) also highlighted the need to improve people’s participation, develop participatory monitoring and evaluation system, and strengthen local capacity to ensure the effective implementation of the programmes.“UNICEF believes poverty reduction begins with children. 

The Post Programme 135 will only succeed if it successfully enables children to develop into a generation that can grow out of poverty,” said Mr Christian Salazar, Acting Representative of UNICEF in Viet Nam

Ethnic minority children are over-represented among poor children. While the proportion of children under 5 suffering wasting (low weight for age) in 2002 was 25.7% for all ethnic groups it was as high as 34.3% for ethnic minorities in the Northern mountains and 45.3% for ethnic minorities in the Central Coastal and Highlands regions.  In education, the majority Kinh have a primary enrolment rate in excess of 90% compared with 80% for ethnic minority children. The comparisons are approximately 75% compared with 50% for lower secondary education.

In its concluding observations on the report of Viet Nam, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends that the Government:

Strengthen efforts to eliminate disparities in accessibility and quality of health care and education between regions and minorities

Conduct a study in collaboration with ethnic community leaders to determine the extent to which ethnic minority children suffer from discrimination in development policies and progress, to address the root causes of any such discrimination.In education, to recruit and train a greater numbers of teachers from ethnic minorities groups, and continue to provide incentives to teachers working in remote and mountainous regions.

Prioritize the construction and expansion of water and sanitation infrastructure in rural and mountainous regions.

Commenting on the draft document for the Post Programme 135, Mr Christian Salazar said: “We are particularly pleased to see the strengthened component on social services. We very much hope this is matched by an appropriate level of resource allocation. We urge the Government to consider the relative allocation for, for example, infrastructure, compared to social services, which we feel is not the most effective distribution of funds to achieve durable poverty reduction.”

Contact Information

Ha Viet Quan, Committee of Ethnic Minorities
Tel: (84-4)-7.333510/0912318418, email:havietquan@cema.gov.vn.or

Junichi Imai, Tel: (84-4) 942-1495 x283 email: junichi.imai@undp.org

Nguyen Viet Lan, Tel: (84-4) 942-1495 x186  email: nguyen.viet.lan@undp.org