Multi-dimensional approach key to sustain poverty reduction

16 Oct 2013

image© United Nations Viet Nam\2010\Aidan Dockery

Ha Noi - A forum today highlighted the need to apply a multi-dimensional approach to poverty. Members of the National Steering Committee for Poverty Reduction; representatives from the Government, the National Assembly, the Fatherland Front, mass organizations and development partners gathered in Ha Noi to discuss the progress of poverty reduction work, measures to tackle challenges and orientation for the coming years.

The forum, entitled “Poverty Reduction and Way Forward”, was held to celebrate the International Day for Eradication of Poverty (IDEP) and the Viet Nam’s National Day for the Poor (17 October), which focuses around the theme: “Working together towards a world without discrimination: Building on the experience and knowledge of people in extreme poverty”. The forum was co-chaired by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and the United Nations, in collaboration with the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) and the Embassy of Ireland.

In the past two decades, Viet Nam has reduced its poverty rate from 58.1 percent (in 1993) to less than 10 percent. However, the country is facing challenges in sustaining the achieved results. The risk of falling back to poverty is high, pockets of poverty and sub-national disparities still persist.

Poverty, including extreme poverty, remains prevalent among ethnic minority groups and in ethnic minority-populated areas. Accounting for 15% of the total population, ethnic minority people comprise up to 47% of the total poor in the country. The income poverty rate is very high among some of these groups, but so is the performance across other dimensions such as education, health, water, sanitation and housing. In all of these, ethnic minority groups consistently lag far behind the national averages.

In the meantime, new forms of urban poverty have emerged among migrants and informal sector workers as the results of slowing economic growth and macro-economic instability. Recent studies show that about a million workers shifted from formal to informal sectors in 2012 alone. These groups do not have sufficient access to social protection and social services as these are often provided based on resident registrations.

At the forum, MOLISA Minister Ms Pham Thi Hai Chuyen said: “The National Assembly Supreme Oversight Mission on poverty reduction work throughout the country in the 2005-2012 period is a good opportunity for us to review the actual results of the implementation of poverty policies and work out directions and measures to implement sustainable poverty reduction goals in the coming time.”

Ms Chuyen highlighted the need to transfer from a single-dimensional to a multi-dimensional approach to poverty and to encourage and strengthen the proactive role of the poor in lifting themselves out of poverty.

With the UN support, Viet Nam is among the 20 countries in the world to pioneer the research and application of multi-dimensional poverty measures to better understand the root causes of poverty and to design better targeted policies and programs.

UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam, Dr Pratibha Mehta, welcomed Resolution 80 for setting the new direction for pooling resources to accelerate poverty reduction in the most disadvantaged areas. “To close the development gaps and ensure that MDGs are achieved for these groups by 2015, the formulation of a coherent plan for accelerating MDG progress in the areas that are lagging behind would indeed be the logical next step,” she noted. “The UN supports a participatory and evidence-based approach to removing policy barriers, enhancing the coherence and efficiency of existing poverty reduction policies, and adopting MDG acceleration measures that are rights-based and sensitive to the ethnic minority people’s knowledge, traditions and cultures.”

Dr Mehta also agreed with MOLISA Minister about the value of involving affected communities in tackling poverty challenges. “Giving voice to the poor, empowering them to develop solutions to their issues and conducting participatory planning and monitoring should be cornerstones of sustainable poverty reduction policies and programmes,” she said.

The recent post-2015 consultations in Viet Nam showed that the poor, the migrants, the disabled and people living with HIV, have an intrinsic motivation to be equal and productive members of the society and to contribute to the country’s development. The UN has been supporting national efforts to enhance the role of citizens, civil society and community-based organizations to overcome the social and economic barriers faced by the poor and the disadvantaged.

More resources:
The UN Seceretary-General message on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
Speech of the UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam

Media contacts:

Doan Huu Minh, Manager of Project on Poverty Reduction Policies and Program,
Tel: (84-4) 39362226, email: huuminhfa2@gmail.com

Nguyen Viet Lan, UN Communication Team,
Tel: (84-4) 38224383 x121, email: nguyen.viet.lan@undp.org