Impacts of key poverty reduction program through lens of baseline and end-line surveys

21 Dec 2012

Poverty rate among ethnic minority groups in Viet Nam has fallen by 8% over the past 5 years. Among the H’Mong ethnic minority group poverty fallen by 24.3%. This is one of the conclusions in a new report analyzing theiImpacts of Program 135 -phase II, the national poverty reduction programme. The report highlights the key outcomes and impacts of Programme 135-II, including on issues such as living standards, housing conditions, access to electricity and quality of life of targeted households.

The Committee for Ethnic Minorities Affairs presented the key findings of the Report to representatives from various ministries, government agencies, National Assembly, UN agencies in Viet Nam, development partners, NGOs, research institutes as well as representatives from 10 provinces.

The baseline and endline surveys data set

Program 135- phase II (P135-II) is a key socio-economic development and poverty reduction Program of the Government of Vietnam. To evaluate the effectiveness of the programme, the Committee for Ethnic Minorities Affairs conducted a baseline survey in 2007 with the support of UNDP, and an end-line survey in 2012 with financial support provided by the Embassy of Finland and technical assistance from UNDP. With a large sample size (6,000 households in 400 communes in 42 provinces), sound methodology in survey design, and systematic and professional evaluation procedure, these surveys provide a rich dataset on the socio-economic situation of mountainous ethnic minority men, women and children.

These data sets:

(i)    allow  rigorous  analysis  of  progress  in  the  socio-economic  development  of  ethnic  minority communities participating in P135-II;
(ii)    allow measurement of changes in key outcomes attributable to P135-II (poverty rate, income, agricultural productivity, access to infrastructure schemes and basic social services, etc.);
(iii)    allow in-depth research into different aspects of poverty reduction and development of ethnic minorities for support to extremely disadvantaged communes and ethnic minorities; and
(iv)    provide reliable quantitative baseline data for designing and measuring the progress of future government poverty reduction programs.

Main outcomes and impacts of P135-II

Poverty rate reduced considerably among ethnic minority groups (from 57.2% in 2007 to 49.2% in 2012), in which H’Mong, Nung and Tay ethnic groups were the most successful (from 83.5% in 2007 down to 59.2% in 2012 in the H’Mong group). The majority of poverty reduction was achieved by income growth, but the rate of growth tended to decrease overtime. In addition, poverty reduction in P135-II communes appears not to be sustainable, as the number of households falling back into poverty remains fairly high (14.3%).

The Program had significant impact on living standard of households in the target communes, especially ethnic  minority ones.  Households incomes  increased  by around  20 percentage  points  after  5 years; however, this is much lower growth rate than the national average (about 50%). Households at low income levels experienced lower income growth rates than households at high income levels and the gap between poor and non-poor households in these communes is increasingly widened.
 
The typical housing conditions improved for all types of households. However, access to clean water and hygienic latrines remains very limited. Clean water remains a serious problem. Only 13 percent of ethnic minority households have tap water, while the corresponding figure at the national level was 27 percent in 2010.

There was a remarkable improvement in the access to electricity in the Program 135-II communes. The proportion of households with electricity increased from 68.6 percent in 2007 to 83.6 percent in 2012.

The quality of life of households in P135 communes has been improved by increased ownership of durables: 70.9 percent of households had a telephone in 2012 and nearly 70 percent of households had a television. The percentage of households having a motorbike increased from 43.8 percent to 66.2 percent. Both the poor and non-poor, and all the ethnic minority groups are experienced increases in motorbike ownership.

P135-II achieved significant success in fostering a participatory approach to implementation, with remarkable corresponding progress in decentralization. In 2010, about 85 percent of P135-II scheme/project(s) organized meetings for selection of local schemes. The percentage of households who were informed of these meetings was 56.1 and 79.3 in 2007 and 2010 correspondingly. These changes represent large improvements compared to the first phase of P135 and other programs. Beneficiary households participated in every stage of the project including selection, implementation, supervision, and contributions to the operation and maintenance funds. Financial transparency also improved to a certain extent.

The target of 100 percent of communes becoming investment owners at the end of the Program has not been achieved. However, thanks to capacity building activities, the number of infrastructure project(s) in which communes were investment owners doubled by 2010 (45.9%), reflecting progresses in communes’ capacity as investment owners.

P135-II has done a good job in attracting more local workers. The percentage of households having members  working for  local  infrastructure  projects was  around  30  percent. While  the  percentage  of households getting paid doubled over the period 2007– 2010, it remains low (4.4 percent in 2007 and 9.1 percent in 2010). The number of households making contributions to infrastructure projects increased significantly (by 14.2 percent) over the period 2007 – 2010.

The potential impact of P135-II depends on the degree to which it enhances resource availability to target communes. Nevertheless, while the P135-II communes did receive substantially more P135 funds than  non-P135  communes,  they  also  received  much  less  non-P135  funds.  As  result,  the  P135-II communes did not receive more funding than other communes. This undermined the goals of P135: to reduce the widening gap between P135-II communes and other communes, the gap between poor and non-poor households, and the gap between ethnic minorities and Kinh households. Moreover, the reallocation of non-P135 funds created a major difficulty for identifying P135 impacts and very likely resulted in underestimating the program impacts. The Report recommends that these issues should be addressed and monitored in future programs to ensure that the funds will be allocated to target groups and that future programs do not affect the decisions of local authorities on other resource allocations.

The level of satisfaction with project quality increased, with more than 80 percent expressing satisfaction with project quality.

The Report concludes: "With new ways of doing things and outcomes achieved, P135-II has proved to provide effective supports to poverty reduction and socio-economic development in ethnic minorities and mountainous areas. Lessons learnt from P135-II should be continued to be adopted in future programs. Greater resource and use of more effective approaches are necessary for maintaining and promoting existing poverty reduction achievements in extremely disadvantaged communes in ethnic minority and mountainous areas."

Contact Information

CEMA:
Mr. Tran Kien, Ethnic Policy Department
Mob: 0983901183
Email:  trankien135@gmail.com
UNDP:
Ms. Vo Hoang Nga, Tel: 04-39421495, ext. 212
Email:  vo.hoang.nga@undp.org