Changes in agricultural practices have helped improve income and living standards for farmers in mountainous Bac Ai district, central Ninh Thuan province
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Vietnam in alliance with the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs and the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS) highlighted these developments as part of a report themed on multi-dimensional poverty in Vietnam.
The report, released at a workshop held in Hanoi on December 19, cites the analysis of the Vietnam Household Living Standard Survey as saying that poverty rates, regardless of the measurement methods used, declined between 2012 and 2016.
As noted, expenditure poverty, income poverty, as well as multi-dimensional poverty witnessed a strong reduction. The multi-dimensional poverty rate dipped from 18.1% to 10.9% during the reviewed period. The expenditure poverty rate and income poverty rate almost halved from 17.2% to 9.8%, and 12.6% to 7.0%, respectively.
Despite consistent negative correlation being a feature of poverty rates measured across different methodologies, there were considerable differences among poverty measurements. For instance, income and expenditure poverty rates among the northern midlands and mountainous region were the highest in the country, but the multi-dimensional poverty rate of the region was found to be lower than those in the Central Highlands and Mekong Delta regions.
The paper pointed out that many households faced with multi-dimensional poverty were neither income poor nor expenditure poor, and vice versa. Approximately only 2.7% of the population was poor according to the three measurements of income, expenditure and multi-dimensional poverty.
Caitlin Wiesen, Country Director of UNDP Vietnam, said at the workshop that Vietnam’s remarkable achievement in poverty reduction is internationally recognized. This is testament to that fact that the poverty headcount rate in terms of monetary expenditure had been massively reduced from 57% in the early 1990s to 13.5% in 2014.
Wiesen went on to say that in November 2015, the Vietnamese Government promulgated national multi-dimensional poverty measurements to be applied between 2016 and 2020. This marked an important step in the country’s shift from an income-based to a multi-dimensional poverty approach.
The shift helped to list Vietnam as one of the first pioneering countries in the Asia-Pacific region to adopt the multi-dimensional poverty approach to eliminate poverty in all its dimensions, she stressed.
Nguyen Thi Ha, Deputy Minister of Labor, Invalid and Social Affairs speaks at the launching workshop. (Photo: Hong Quang)
Nguyen Thi Ha, Deputy Minister of Labor, Invalid and Social Affairs, said the use of a multi-dimensional poverty approach illustrates Vietnam’s political determination to push for sustainable poverty reduction in all dimensions. It is also looking at ways to better improve the efficiency of supervising poverty alleviation work and issuing policies applicable to households faced with multi-dimensional deprivation.
Although Vietnam has achieved great success in the battle for poverty alleviation in recent years, there remain challenges ahead. They include the uneven and unsustainable pace of poverty reduction taking place among regions, population groups and ethnic minorities, Ha admitted.
Investment for disadvantaged districts and communes, along with mountainous areas where a number of ethnic minorities reside, do not meet the actual demand, she said. In addition, some policies could be considered to be inappropriate for different ethnic minority communities as they did not yield outcomes as expected.
Nguyen Thang, head of the VASS’s Center for Analysis and Forecasting, noted that the quality of multi-dimensional poverty measurements needs to be improved with the increasing application of digital technologies in supervising the implementation of poverty reduction policies and programs.
Thang suggested that, in a big push for poverty reduction, Vietnam needs to further promote productive employment to increase income among all workers while continuing to consolidate the fundamentals of the economy.
In a narrower approach, priority should be given to applying cutting-edge technologies, especially those from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in fostering agricultural development and productivity. Meanwhile, focus should be put on giving small and medium-sized enterprises’ greater access to commercial loans, e-commerce platforms and the value chain.
Multi-dimensional poverty is measured by the level of deprivation in access to five basic social services, including healthcare, education, housing, water and sanitation, along withaccess to information, which are represented by 10 indicators. A household is considered poor if deprived in a third or more of the 10 indicators.
Under the socio-economic development plan for the 2016 to 2020 period, Vietnam set the national average multi-dimensional poverty reduction target of 1.5% per annum and 2 to 4% in mountainous ethnic minority areas.