Vietnam strives to keep poverty level below 16 percent

Vietnam aims to reduce the poor household rate to below 16 percent in 2007 after achieving a 3-percent reduction to 18.1 percent in 2006. The figures were unveiled at a conference in Hanoi on January 11, which summed up poverty reduction programs last year and put forth targets for 2007.

The southeastern region was reported to have the lowest percentage of poor households (7.4 percent) in 2006. The highest number of households living in poverty inhabit in the northwestern and northeastern areas, accounting for 37.3 percent and 28.3 percent of the total population, respectively.

Prominent in the fight against poverty were the northwestern provinces of Yen Bai and Lao Cai, the Mekong Delta provinces of Dong Thap and Ben Tre, and the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong. They succeeded in reducing their number of poor people by 4-6 percent, exceeding the national registered average of 3 percent.

Many programmes have proved effective in improving the living conditions of people in many localities. Most noteworthy among them is a model to provide both vocational training and loans for poor people in the central provinces of Thua Thien-Hue and Thanh Hoa, the northern province of Yen Bai and the Mekong Delta province of An Giang.

The State and local authorities have spent VND30 billion organizing 1,200 courses to transfer poultry breeding and planting techniques to more than 700,000 poor people.

The Vietnam Bank for Social Policies approved loans totalling over VND9.3 billion for 1.5 million poor households to help boost family-based production activities.

Also in 2006, nearly 15 million poor people were granted with health insurance cards, over 2.6 million poor students exempted from school fees or provided with learning aid, and around 130,000 poor households assisted to repair their homes or build new ones.