9 million Vietnamese people still living in extreme poverty

A homeless woman rides a bicycle in Hanoi on December 18, 2017. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

The poor faces a widening gap in terms of access to upper secondary education and improved water and sanitation.

Nine million Vietnamese people are still living in extreme poverty, according to a World Bank report released on Thursday which calls for more alleviation efforts despite the success so far.

Vietnam’s poverty rate fell by almost 4 percentage points since 2014, to 9.8 percent in 2016, but the problem is far from solved, especially among ethnic groups, the report said.

Ethnic minorities, many of them living in mountainous areas, account for 72 percent of Vietnam’s poor, it said.

The average per capita consumption of ethnic minorities remains less than 45 percent of the Kinh and Hoa (Chinese), the majority groups in the 93-million strong Vietnam, it said.

The poor also faces a widening gap in terms of access to upper secondary education and improved water and sanitation, the report said.

Education in Vietnam thus remains to be a key area in combating poverty, the report said, suggesting that the government improve education opportunities for children from all backgrounds to give them equal chance to succeed.

The report, titled “Climbing the Ladder, Poverty Reduction and Shared Prosperity in Vietnam,” focuses on the drivers behind poverty reduction, the challenges that remain and promotes shared prosperity.

Poverty rate among ethnic minorities declined by 13 percentage points between 2014 and 2015, the bank said, describing the result as “encouraging” and one that should prompt further actions.

“More focused efforts on improving their incomes can further broaden their opportunities and reduce persistent inequalities,” Ousmane Dione, World Bank country director for Vietnam, said in a statement.

The report said three million Vietnamese joined the global middle class between 2014-2016, which indicates that the living standards for people who escape poverty are improving.

As people escape poverty and shift focus from merely putting food on the table to earning enough to achieve economic security for a middle-class life, higher future growth in incomes is required, Dione said.

The World Bank said it will continue its partnership with Vietnam on its last mile of poverty alleviation.

“No one should be left behind,” said Dione.

In Vietnam, poor people are defined as those who earn up to VND700,000 ($31) a month in rural areas and VND900,000 ($40) in cities.

According to the General Statistics Office, 8 percent of families in Vietnam were living under the poverty line last year. The number of people living in hunger in the country dropped by 32 percent from the previous year to 746,100 in 2017, it said. – VNExpress

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