3 mln households in VN are poor, experts fear more
Daily food of poor people mainly relies on what they catch or pick up from river and forests
Vietnam has recently announced progress in its five-year campaign to lower the national poverty rate, however experts still doubt the living quality of those considered “not poor.”
By the end of 2010, Vietnam had 3,055,566 households living under the poverty line, or 9.5 percent, in comparison to 22 percent in 2005, according to a recent survey by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs.
The poverty rate is defined as an average income of less than VND300,000 (US$15) per capita a month in the rural area and VND390,000 ($19) in cities.
The northwest region of Vietnam is the highest hit area, with 39 percent of households below the poverty line.
Forty percent of households in Dien Bien province, 46 percent in Lai Chau, 43 percent in Lao Cai and 42 percent in Ha Giang are below the poverty line, said Ngo Truong Thi, the vice chief ministry’s Social Welfare Department.
Hanoi and four southern localities, Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai, Binh Duong and Ba Ria-Vung Tau, have less than 5 percent of households living in poverty.
The survey, however, only used income as the criteria, said Deputy Minister Nguyen Trong Dam, who added that his ministry will consider including other standards such as housing; access to information, healthcare and other social welfare; and inflation in the coming survey.
In 2011 to 2020, the Vietnamese government believes that those with an average income of less than VND400,000 ($19.50) a month in the countryside and VND500,000 ($24.4) in cities will be considered below the poverty line.
The national government has worked out six comprehensive measures as the focus of planning social and economic policies from now until 2020 in order to pull down the poverty rate in Vietnam.
The government will boost investment for the construction of infrastructure for social welfare in remote areas.
The government will also invest heavily in the mountainous regions where ethnic minorities are prevalent, Dam said. The elderly, the disabled and children are also focus points.
The six general measures include assistance in vocational training for the poor, education, healthcare and nutrition, housing, legal aid, and access to culture and information.
The United Nations also expressed its support for the government in boosting investment for remote areas, including building roads, electricity supplies and clean water.
Ha Hung, vice chairman of the Ethnic Department of the National Assembly, noted that the national campaign of poverty elimination should not be based on income alone as education, social welfare and public infrastructure play key roles in improving the real living quality of people.
Dr. Dang Ngoc Dinh, chief of the Vietnam Institute for Development Studies, said he agrees with the solutions but doubts the 2005-10 poverty survey.
He pointed out that according to the survey, an average worker from the Mekong Delta in Ho Chi Minh City earns a monthly salary of VND1.2 million (US$59) and a HCMC native vendor (with a house) has an average salary of VND500,000 a month.
He said he believes the immigrant worker surely lives a harder life.