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PARTICIPATORY POVERTY MONITORING IN RURAL COMMUNITIES IN VIET NAM Five-year Synthesis Report (2007-2011)

Looking forward: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

Thuan Hoa (Vi Xuyen District, Ha Giang Province) Ban Lien (Bac Ha District, Lao Cai Province) Thanh Xuong (Dien Bien District, Dien Bien Province) Luong Minh (Tuong Duong District, Nghe An Province) Duc Huong (Vu Quang District, Ha Tinh Province) Xy (Huong Hoa District, Quang Tri Province)

Cu Hue (Eakar District, Dak Lak Province) Phuoc Dai (Bac Ai District, Ninh Thuan Province) Phuoc Thanh (Bac Ai District, Ninh Thuan Province) Thuan Hoa (Cau Ngang District, Tra Vinh Province)


TABLE OF CONTENTS PREFACE........................................................................................................................................................................... 7 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS................................................................................................................................................... 9 ABBREVIATIONS AND TERMS........................................................................................................................................10 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY...................................................................................................................................................12 INTRODUCTION...............................................................................................................................................................15 Objectives of the Report..............................................................................................................................................15 Methodology...................................................................................................................................................................15 Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction...............................................................23 1. OVERVIEW OF POVERTY TRENDS............................................................................................................................25 1.1. Poverty trends...........................................................................................................................................................................................................25 1.2. Household poverty reduction strategies at the monitoring points................................................................................................27 1.3. Diverse poverty groups.......................................................................................................................................................................................32 1.4. Vulnerability...............................................................................................................................................................................................................35 1.5. Gender Relations................................................................................................................................................................................................... 43 1.6. Participation and Empowerment..................................................................................................................................................................... 50 Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam............................................................................... 61 2. MULTI-DIMENSIONAL POVERTY ANALYSIS........................................................................................................... 64 2.1. Multi-dimensional poverty measurements in the World and in Viet Nam.................................................................................... 64 2.2. Multi-dimensional nature of rural poverty at monitoring points....................................................................................................... 64 3. BUILDING SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEMS................................................................................................................................................... 80 3.1. Target-oriented social security policies....................................................................................................................................................... 80 3.2. Social assistance...................................................................................................................................................................................................... 82 3.3. Insurance..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 84 3.4. Community-based social security................................................................................................................................................................... 85 3.5. Vocational training.................................................................................................................................................................................................. 86 4. COPING WITH PRICE VOLATILITY........................................................................................................................... 87 4.1. Price volatility and the role of market agents........................................................................................................................................... 87 4.2. Impacts of price increase on livelihoods.................................................................................................................................................... 89 5. LABOUR MOBILITY AND GENDER RELATIONS..................................................................................................... 93 5.1. Working away from home................................................................................................................................................................................... 93 5.2. Local casual jobs..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 98 5.3. Labour export.........................................................................................................................................................................................................100 6. IMPROVING ACCESS TO EDUCATION...................................................................................................................102 6.1. Level of Access......................................................................................................................................................................................................102 6.2. People’s feedback on educational service..............................................................................................................................................104 6.3. Suggestions for improving educational service.....................................................................................................................................109 7. IMPROVING ACCESS TO AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE......................................................................111 7.1. Level of access to agricultural extension services..............................................................................................................................111 7.2. Feedback on agricultural extension services..........................................................................................................................................112 7.3. Suggestions for improvement of agricultural extension services.................................................................................................116 8. PARTICIPATORY PLANNING AND DECENTRALIZED FINANCING AT COMMUNE LEVEL...............................118 8.1. Reformed planning at commune level........................................................................................................................................................118 8.2. Community Development Fund (CDF).......................................................................................................................................................120 Part 3: Toward Sustainable Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam..................................................................123 9. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DISCUSSION...............................................................................................................125 9.1. Achievements and challenges to rural poverty reduction................................................................................................................125 9.2. Towards sustainable poverty reduction in rural areas of Viet Nam.............................................................................................126 10. REFERENCES..........................................................................................................................................................128


PREFACE1 In early 2007, Viet Nam was admitted as the 150th member country of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This has created many opportunities for Viet Nam but also poses challenges, particularly in ensuring that the benefits and opportunities of WTO membership are shared by all, especially the poor and vulnerable. In this context, and as organizations with a long history of working to support the poorest and most marginalized groups in Viet Nam, ActionAid International Viet Nam and Oxfam in coordination with local partners started an initiative “Participatory Poverty Monitoring� in early 2007. This initiative involves a periodical study of livelihoods and market access of poor and vulnerable groups in selected communities throughout Viet Nam. The intention is to provide recommendations for policy discussions at a national level, as well as inform the design of programmes of ActionAid and Oxfam in Viet Nam. Reports were published from 2007 to 2011. This report aims to provide a synthesis of our findings over the last five years (2007-2011). We hope you find it interesting and useful.

Andy Baker Hoang Phuong Thao Country Director Country Director Oxfam ActionAid International Viet Nam

1 Many organizations and individuals contributed to this study. The opinions and recommendations expressed in this study do not necessarily represent the policy position of ActionAid, Oxfam or the organizations or researchers whose work is cited below.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This five year (2007-2011) synthesis report on rural poverty monitoring is a collective effort that could not have been completed without the valuable contributions of many people. We would like to thank the leadership and staff of ActionAid International Vietnam (AAV) and Oxfam for their valuable comments throughout the whole design process and in field work, workshops, and report development. Some staff of Oxfam and ActionAid took part in field work and contributed their knowledge and depth of experience to the research methodology and contents. We are grateful to the People’s Committees, Departments of Foreign Affairs, and various government departments at provincial and district levels for approving and creating favourable conditions for our work. We thank the members of the nine provincial core groups including officials in the departments involved, mass provincial and district level organizations, and commune officials who devoted their time and effort in working with us to complete the field work and poverty monitoring in each province. We especially thank the village officers who accompanied and supported us during field work in the 20 villages of the monitoring network. The active participation and smooth coordination among ActionAid’s and Oxfam’s local partners, including coordinators, members of Development Programme Management Units at the district level, and staff from other Vietnamese NGOs such as HCCD and CCD (as local partners of AAV in Ha Tinh and Dien Bien), have also been critical to the success of the initiative. Last but not least, we would like to sincerely thank the men, women, and children in the villages selected for sharing with us in discussion and in-depth interviews their difficulties, achievements, plans, and future expectations. None of this work could have been achieved without their lively and active participation. We would appreciate receiving comments2 from interested readers and would like to thank you in advance. Consultants from Truong Xuan (Ageless) Company: Hoang Xuan Thanh (Team Leader), with Dinh Thi Thu Phuong Ha My Thuan Dinh Thi Giang Luu Trong Quang Dang Thi Thanh Hoa Nguyen Thi Hoa Truong Tuan Anh 2 Your comments can be sent to Mr. Hoang Xuan Thanh, Team Leader, Director of Truong Xuan (Ageless) Company at the following numbers: (04) 39434478 (office), 091 334 0972 (mobile), email: thanhhx@gmail.com; Ms. Hoang Lan Huong, Advocacy and Communication Programme Officer, Oxfam at (04) 39454362, email: hlhuong@oxfam.org.uk; and Ms. Duong Minh Nguyet, Policy Coordinator, ActionAid International Viet Nam at (04) 39439866, email: nguyet.duongminh@actionaid.org.

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ABBREVIATIONS AND TERMS 10

ActionAid

ActionAid International Viet Nam

ADB

Asian Development Bank

CCD

Centre for Community Development

CDF

Community Development Fund

Decision 1002

A government programme on improvement of community awareness and community-based disaster management (based on Decision No. 1002/QD-TTg dated 13 July 2009)

Decision 102

A policy that directly supports poor households in difficult areas (based on Decision No.102/2009/QD-TTg dated 7 August 2009)Â

Decision 112 and Decision 101

A government policy that supports poor students (based on Decision No. 112/2007/QD-TTg dated 20 July 2007 and Decision No. 101/2009/QD-TTg dated 5 August 2009)

Decision 167

A government policy that supports poor households with houses (based on Decision No. 167/2008/QD-TTg dated 12 December 2008)

Decision 1956

A government policy that supports vocational training for rural labourers (based on Decision No. 1956/QD-TTg dated 27 November 2009)

Decision 30

List of communes classified as difficult areas (based on Decision No. 30/2007/QD-TTg dated 5 March 2007)

Decision 74

A government policy that supports productive and residential land for local ethnic minority households in the Mekong river delta (based on Decision No. 74/2008/QD-TTg dated 9 June 2008)

Decree 49

A government policy that exempts and reduces tuition fees, supports education expenses (based on Decree No. 49/2010/ND-CP dated 14 May 2010)

Decree 54

Guiding the implementation of some articles of the Ordinance on benefits given to people who rendered great services to the Revolution (based on Decree No. 54/2006/ND-CP dated 26 May 2006

Decree 67 and Decree 13

A government policy that supports beneficiaries of social welfare assistance programmes (based on Decree No. 67/2007/ ND-CP dated 13 April 2007, and Decree No. 13/2010/ND-CP dated 27 February 2010)

Decree 92 DOLISA

A government policy stipulating the titles, quantity, benefits, policies toward commune level civil servants (under Decree No. 92/2009/ND-CP dated 22 October 2009) Department of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs

DPI

Department of Planning and Investment

FFS

Farmer Field School

GOV

Government of Viet Nam

GSO

General Statistics Office of Viet Nam


HCCD

Ha Tinh Center for Community Development

HH

Household

HIV/AIDS

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

ICM

Integrated Crop Management

IPM

Integrated Pest Management

MDGs

Millennium Development Goals

MOLISA

Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs

NGO

Non-Government Organization

PC

People’s Committee

PRA

Participatory Rural Assessment

Programme 134

A government programme that supports production and residential land, and water for domestic consumption for ethnic minority people (Based on Decision No. 134/2004/QDTTg dated 20 July 2004)

Programme 135

A government programme that supports socio-economic development for especially difficult communes (Based on Decision No. 135/1998/QD-TTg dated 31 July 1998)

Programme 30a

A government programme that supports sustainable poverty reduction in 61 poor districts (Based on Resolution No. 30a/2008/NQ-CP dated 27 December 2008), now in 62 districts due to changes in administrative borders

PTD

Participatory Technology Development

Reflect

Regenerated Freirean Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques (implemented by ActionAid and its local partners)

SRI

System for Rice Intensification

SPB

Social Policy Bank

TV

Television

UNDP

United Nations Development Programme

VHLSS

Viet Nam Household Living Standards Survey

VND

Viet Nam dong

WB

World Bank

WTO

World Trade Organization 1 USD ≈ 20,850 VND or dong (As of April 2012)

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The last five years (2007-2011) has been a difficult period for Viet Nam. High inflation, the global financial crisis and economic recession, natural disasters and epidemics have affected the lives of everybody in Viet Nam, particularly the poor. Nevertheless, the poverty rate continues to decline. Major Government investments have provided the poor with improved infrastructure, education, health care, access to credit, agro-forestry extension services and housing improvements. Improved living standards at the monitoring points are associated with strategies to combine agriculture (land-based diversification and intensification), non-agriculture (including labour mobility) and investment in children’s education. The recorded achievements are remarkable, yet rural poverty reduction remains a challenge. Poverty reduction rates are uneven in rural areas. The poverty rate among ethnic minority groups remains stubbornly high, particularly in remote mountainous areas. In such situations, it is more important to close the widening poverty gap between regions, ethnic groups and within communities . A multi-dimensional poverty analysis is essential. Across the monitoring points people’s lives have improved in many respects. People own more property (mainly housing, motorbikes, and livestock) and have improved access to information (TV, telephones). However, many people face difficult living conditions (lack of safe water, latrines), have limited access to markets, have little opportunity of non-agricultural employment and struggle to manage the many risks they face. The percentage of households that are predominantly engaged in agriculture remains high, and remains a significant indicator of household poverty. Food shortages between harvests or during epidemics and natural disasters remains a significant challenge. Gender roles remain the same today as in 2007, and women still do not play an active role in productive and social activities. The proportion of women in administration is still low and their capacities at local administrative levels are limited. In communities in which different social groups have specific difficulties, it is important to tailor policies to each group. Developing social security systems is a major challenge. Policy coverage is limited, the level of assistance is low, targeting is imperfect and often inadequate and local capacity to implement social policies is weak. Recipient households are identified using a list of poor households. However, the different needs of vulnerable households vary considerably and are not recorded in the list, making more nuanced policy difficult. Price volatility has been a serious issue since 2007. High inflation in 2008 and 2011 affected many people. Some commodity producers benefit from price increases of agricultural produce. However, the poor are sensitive to higher input prices and benefit little from increasing agricultural prices because of small-scale production and weak market position. Increased prices for food, services and other necessities reduces purchasing power, and affects the food security of poor households who do not grow their own food. Labour mobility has increased over the last five years. Labour mobility is associated with diversified livelihood strategies and plays an increasingly important role in rural poverty reduction. More men work away from home than women, although at many monitoring points an increasing proportion of women are seeking work further afield.


Increased labour mobility changes the local labour structure and traditional gender divisions. However, when men work away from home women face an increased domestic burden. Few ethnic minority people in mountainous areas work away from home due to community and family barriers. Access to educational services has improved considerably at the monitoring points. Semi-boarding for general school children has proved effective, particularly in ethnic minority and mountainous areas. However, the proportion of lower and upper secondary school children dropping out of school is still high and is even increasing in some disadvantaged mountainous areas. Some ethnic minority children continue to struggle with schooling in the Vietnamese language. Increasing out of pocket spending on children’s education is a major burden for the poor. Access to agricultural extension services has improved. A network of grassroots agricultural extension workers has been established in most of the monitoring points in mountainous ethnic minority areas. However, the participatory agricultural extension approach (increasing the function of counselling, facilitation and hand-on guidance) has not yet been extensively applied. Improved farming methods have yet to be applied on a large scale. Funding for agricultural extension projects is limited, while the capacity of grassroots agricultural extension workers is weak. Reformed planning and decentralized investment at the commune level is becoming more important. People now have better access to information on policies, programmes and projects, many of which have been designed to improve the participation of the poor and poor communities. However, there remains a gap between policy and its implementation. The application of participatory approaches and decentralized financing mechanisms, such as the Community Development Fund (CDF) in some survey sites, has been encouraging, yet still faces many challenges. Grassroots cadres and local residents have limited capacity, district level government and communes do not work closely together, plans and financial resource plans are not adequately communicated and gender and disaster and climate change strategies are not incorporated in the planning process. This five-year report presents the following recommendations for discussion toward sustainable poverty reduction in Viet Nam’s rural areas, particularly mountainous ethnic minority areas: 1. To promote qualitative and quantitative research and analysis of emerging themes in order to develop suitable poverty reduction policies. Suggested themes are the increasing gap between the rich and the poor and the multidimensional character of poverty. There should also be a specific focus on northern mountainous ethnic minority areas. 2. To formulate more vigorous support policies in favour of specific disadvantaged groups such as the “chronically” poor, the temporarily poor, the vulnerable poor and the near-poor and people who have just escaped from poverty. Support policies should: increase direct cash transfers to the chronically poor, build capacity relevant to people’s livelihoods, increase conditional assistance and reduce unconditional assistance to the temporarily poor, increase investment in programmes that manage risks facing vulnerable groups improve access for the near-poor to health insurance, credit, agricultural extension and education. 3. To build social security policy that ensures the right to security and a minimum living standard acceptable to every citizen. To consolidate similar policies in order to minimise mistakes, reduce the management burden and implementation costs. To provide more targeted assistance to the most vulnerable households

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and improve monitoring and evaluation systems, develop concrete regulations so that people and communities can practice their supervisory rights. Target social security based on multi-dimensional poverty criteria rather than the income poverty line. 4. To design policies that both do not discriminate against migrants and actively support them in their efforts to find and secure safe employment. 5. To encourage investments in education in models such as “Semi-boarding general schools”, “Staff supporting teachers”, “Bi-lingual education” for kindergartens, and “Education and community development - Reflect”. Issue specific regulations on additional contributions, both compulsory and “optional”, in order to reduce the costs of sending children to school. Develop concrete regulations to improve the roles of parent’s representative boards in supervising the school’s affairs. Increase vocational counselling services to enable students to select courses that will help then find employment on graduation. 6. To reform agricultural extension services in mountainous ethnic minority areas that are more beneficial to the poor. Replace conventional training methods and models with participatory approaches such as “Farmer Field Schools (FFS)”, “Participatory Technology Development (PTD)”, “Farmer to Farmer”. Provide specialised training, increased allowances and direct support for the establishment of demonstration models for village agricultural extension workers. Encourage gender analysis and gender mainstreaming in agricultural extension. Increase the budget for agricultural extension projects aimed at improving and changing the livelihoods of the poor, paying special attention to low-cost investment models, suitable to conditions and livelihood strategies of poor ethnic minorities. 7. To undertake comprehensive investment (e.g. in the form of Community Development Fund - CDF) in poverty reduction programmes at the commune level via a decentralized financing mechanism with community ownership (i.e. “block grant”), along with substantial and continued assistance in enhancing participatory socio-economic planning, financial management and communitybased supervisory capacities. Recommendations obtained in participatory planning exercises at the grassroots level should be consolidated and reflected in plans to deliver public services (e.g. agriculture, agro- extension, and education, health, and water supply services). To institutionalize the participatory socio-economic planning approach and regulation on the use of decentralized financial at commune level, based on experiences and lessons learned from some provinces taking part in this initiative over the past years. Tools promoting the voice and empower farmers should be applied widely (such as “Citizen Report Card”, “Community Score Card”, and “Social auditing”).


INTRODUCTION Objectives of the Report Viet Nam has changed rapidly over the last 25 years. Once one of the world’s poorest nations, Viet Nam has made tremendous achievements in economic growth and poverty reduction. In 1993, nearly 60% of the Viet Viet Nam population was living in poverty. This figure dropped to only 14 percent in 20083. The Government of Viet Nam (GOV) undertook a number of reforms between 2007 and 2012, with the objective of promoting further economic development and lifting the remaining poor households out of poverty. Viet Nam’s full accession to the WTO in early 2007 marked an important milestone in the country’s integration into the global economy. The country’s new role in the world economic order has brought both opportunities and challenges, particularly for poor communities and ethnic minority peoples in mountainous areas. Oxfam and ActionAid International Viet Nam (ActionAid), in cooperation with local partners decided to monitor the impact of WTO accession and subsequent reform by establishing a participatory poverty monitoring network to: “Carry out periodical poverty monitoring of vulnerable groups in specific communities, in the context of WTO accession and the government’s projected reform policies up to 2012, to provide analysis and recommendations for policy dialogue and implementation of programmes and projects by ActionAid, Oxfam and their partners.” The goals of the annual poverty monitoring exercises are to: • • •

Provide qualitative information on poverty and development for use in conjunction with statistical and survey data collected from other sources. Establish an ‘early warning’ network to identify negative impacts, especially on poor and vulnerable people, following accession to the WTO. Improve local capacity and enhance people’s participation in monitoring, with a view to making poverty alleviation more effective and equitable.

Methodology Survey Site Selection A rural poverty monitoring network was established in nine provinces where Oxfam and ActionAid were already active. One typical commune in each province was selected for fieldwork, with the exception of Ninh Thuan province where two communes were selected. In each commune two villages were chosen, one close to the commune centre, and the other further away and facing more difficult conditions (Previous involvement in an ActionAid or Oxfam project was not a precondition for a commune being chosen). A total of ten communes (twenty villages) were selected (see Table 1). The goal of the monitoring network is not to generate representative statistical data; rather, the goal is to provide qualitative evidence, including people’s own testimony, as a platform for policy dialogue and development programme formulation. Monitoring points were specifically chosen to sample typical livelihoods and poverty status and to reflect the complex diversity of conditions across the sites surveyed. 3 GSO, “Viet Nam Household Living Standards Survey 2008”, Statistics Publishing House, Ha Noi, 2010

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TABLE 1. The monitoring points Commune

District

Province

Main ethnic groups

Thuan Hoa

Vi Xuyen

Ha Giang

Tay, H’Mong

42

No

Ban Lien

Distance In Commune to Programme poverty district 30a rate by centre end of (km) 2011 (%) 56.4

Bac Ha

Lao Cai

Tay, H’Mong

28

Yes

63

Thanh Xuong

Dien Bien

Dien Bien

Kinh, Thai

3

No

7.5

Luong Minh

Tuong Duong Vu Quang

Nghe An

Thai, Kh’Mu

17

Yes

85.3

Ha Tinh

Kinh

10

No

43.3

Huong Hoa

Quang Tri

Van Kieu

36

No

72.1

Cu Hue

Eakar

Dak Lak

Ede, Kinh

2

No

11.4

Phuoc Dai

Bac Ai

Ninh Thuan

Raglai

0,3

Yes

57.8

Bac Ai Cau Ngang

Ninh Thuan Tra Vinh

Raglai Kh’mer, Kinh

14 2

Yes No

70.9 26.7

Duc Huong Xy

Phuoc Thanh Thuan Hoa

SOURCE: Commune information sheets Note: The maps used in the various tables of this report are from “Poverty Map of 2008”, based on 2008 VHLSS data. Darker colours indicate higher poverty rates. Source: “Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam: Achievements and Challenges”, Poverty Assessment Synthesis Report 2008-2010, Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences, October 2010.

The communities chosen for poverty monitoring are in areas with severe difficulties and reflect the great diversity of rural Viet Nam. For example:  Geographical diversity and topography: The monitoring points span the length of the country, from the northern mountainous areas, through the north-central and coastal south-central regions and the central highlands, and down to the Mekong Delta. A range of topographies are represented, including high mountains (Ban Lien-Lao Cai, Luong Minh-Nghe An, Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang), low mountains (Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Duc Huong-HT, Xy-Quang Tri, Phuoc Dai and Phuoc ThanhNinh Thuan), highlands (Cu Hue-Dak Lak), and delta areas (Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh).  Ethnic diversity: The monitoring areas include numerous ethnic groups, such as Kinh, Tay, Thai, H’Mong, Kh’Mu, Van Kieu, Ede, Raglai, and Kh’mer.  Remoteness: The monitoring took place near district centres and at sites 30 to 40 kilometres from the centre.  Poverty situation: The monitoring points include some communes with good poverty reduction results, as assessed against the poverty line introduced by the Government for the 2011-2015 period, with poverty rates around 15 percent (Thanh Xuong, Cu Hue), and also some extremely poor communes with poverty rates above 70 percent. It is noteworthy that nine out of ten communes are in areas designated as difficult by Decision 30 of the Prime Minister (with the one exception being Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien). Four communes (Ban Lien, Luong Minh, Phuoc Dai and Phuoc Thanh) are included in Programme 30a, which was initiated by the Government at the end of 2008 and aims at rapid and sustainable poverty


reduction in the 61 poorest districts of the country (the number of districts has subsequently been changed to 62 due to administrative re-division). A core poverty monitoring assessment group of 15 to 25 people was established in each province. The group comprised of: •

Representatives of provincial departments: Foreign Affairs, Planning and Investment, Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Agriculture and Rural Development, Committee for Ethnic Minorities, Statistics Office, Farmer’s Association, Women’s Union, and Youth Union.

Representatives of district divisions: Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs; Agriculture and Rural Development; Finance and Planning; Statistics; Fatherland Front; Farmer’s Association; Women’s Union; Youth Union; and field staff of ActionAid and Oxfam programmes in the localities.

Representatives from communes and villages selected for survey.

Core groups were responsible for monitoring in their own locality, and were involved in organization as well as data collection and the drafting of field reports. They received technical support from consultants of Truong Xuan (Ageless) Company and Programme Officers from ActionAid and Oxfam. The framework: themes and hypotheses Data collection was organised around four themes and hypotheses. THEME 1: The gap between the rich and the poor. Poverty, disadvantage, and inequality are often the result of power imbalances. The gap between the rich and the poor can be defined quantitatively as differences in income, expenditure, and assets, or qualitatively as differences in people’s voice and representation and their access to resources, services, and markets. Hypothesis: in the context of global economic integration and government reform, people who are better educated and better skilled, and who have access to social networks and supporting services, are more likely to progress faster than those who do not enjoy such advantages. THEME 2: Vulnerability. Poor people and communities often face serious and sustained risks. Poverty is often linked to lack of food security and unstable livelihoods caused by market changes, insecure employment opportunities, lack of social security support, and natural disasters and disease. Hypothesis: with larger cash-commodity production and better access to markets, some people can take better advantage of market opportunities and cope with changes in prices and other risks and shocks. Those who cannot adjust in this way are likely to encounter difficulties or fall back to, or below, the poverty line. THEME 3: Gender Relations. Poor women have roles and voices different from men’s. They also face significant challenges: employment opportunities, equality in discussions and negotiations with men when making key decisions, access to services, participation in community activities, and children’s education. Hypothesis: a general improvement in living conditions is associated with significantly improved roles for women in decisions about their children’s education, in decision-making generally, in community activities, and in the division of household labour. THEME 4: Participation and Empowerment. Strengthening the role and voice of poor people requires increasing access information, levels of participation, and even taking the lead in monitoring and evaluation local poverty alleviation programmes and projects. Hypothesis: in the new economic conditions, local authorities will face challenges in bringing higher levels of decentralization, participation,

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transparency, and accountability to bear on managing and monitoring sustainable poverty alleviation. The fifth round of poverty monitoring in 2011 studied multi-dimensional poverty, social security, the effect of high prices, labour mobility, educational services, agricultural extension services, participatory planning and decentralized financing at commune level. Annually repeated surveys The core groups visited the same surveyed communes and villages each year and, using the same household questionnaire, conducted in-depth interviews with the same households, and carried out the wealth ranking exercises using the same list. Participatory field monitoring at each site took six to seven days. The main data collection tools were: Household questionnaires: In each village 30 households were selected for the annual survey (in total, 60 households from two villages in each commune). A simple random technique (e.g. random card drawing) was used to select the households for interview. The questionnaire focused on background information about household members, some indicators of the household’s living standards, changes in household’s livelihood, and assessed access to services, markets and degree of civic participation. 600 household questionnaires were completed at ten monitoring points, providing data from 344 poor households and 256 non-poor households (as determined by the GOV poverty standard at time of survey). Of the 600 respondents, 346 were male, 254 female, 148 Kinh, and 452 from other ethnic groups such as H’mong, Thai, Tay, Kh’mu, Van Kieu, Ede, Raglai, and Kh’mer. The core groups revisited all households interviewed in 2009 to maintain a panel sample. However, by 2011, of the 600 households sampled in 2010, 12 households had to be replaced due to change of residence or adults absent from home at the time of this survey. In order to check the reliability of 2011 data against that of previous years, the research team ran a data analysis for 588 panel households and obtained a result with little difference from data obtained from 600-household samples. Data used in this report comes from the sample of 600 households. Data obtained from household interviews are presented in the form of descriptive tabulation and disaggregated into poor and non-poor households using results from the poverty review in each locality at the time of the survey. One exception is Cu HueDak Lak, which has no disaggregated data for poor households because the number of poor households in the sampling was too small (only two poor households out of the 60 households surveyed in Cu Hue-Dak Lak). In-depth interview for case studies: Eight to ten typically poor and near-poor households from each village were interviewed to obtain detailed information about trends of poverty, disadvantages and risks faced, gender relations, and their level of participation in programmes and projects. 541 in-depth interviews were conducted with households.  Group discussions: These were conducted with commune officials, core groups from villages (including village officials, representatives from mass organizations, and knowledgeable villagers), and local resident groups including men’s groups, women’s groups, poor groups, and children’s groups. Participatory Rural Assessment (PRA) tools - such as household wealth ranking, timelines, cause-effect diagrams, mobility mapping


exercises - were used to gain a deeper understanding of poverty gaps, community history, livelihood trends, and risks, and to gain feedback about the implementation of local programmes and projects.   190 group discussions were held involving 1024 villagers (adults and children) and commune and village officials. Of these people, 638 were men, 386 women, 321 Kinh, and 703 members of ethnic minorities.   Information sheets: Monitoring personnel provided statistical data about the communes and villages selected. On-site observation and photographs taken (with permission where necessary) provided additional information. Interviews with local officials and other stakeholders: In addition to the above methods, 30 interviews were carried out with officials from provincial and district departments in the nine provinces. Triangulation methods were applied throughout the report in order to provide evidencebased statements that are supported by various sources of information, such as local reports, household questionnaires, group discussions, in-depth interviews, and observations by the study team. This synthesis report reflects all survey results from the nine provinces studied between 2007 and 2011. It stresses the recognizable changes and policy implications arising the factors that have affected poverty trends at the monitoring points in the last five years4. The report comprises three parts. Part 1 gives an overview of poverty trends and summarizes developments in four areas over the past five years. Part 2 presents current challenges to rural poverty reduction. Part 3 concludes and provides recommendations for more sustainable rural poverty reduction5.   Table 2 updates basic characteristics at the end of 2011 of 20 selected villages based on village information sheets and household survey results.

4 Secondary information is quoted with sources. Primary information with no source listed in this report comes from nine component reports and the field diary in the nine provinces in the five years from 2007 to 2011. 5 See also “Participatory poverty monitoring in rural communities in Viet Nam - First Round Synthesis Report”, Nov. 2008. Oxfam and ActionAid International Viet Nam; “Participatory poverty monitoring in rural communities in Viet Nam - Second Round Synthesis Report 2008/2009”, November 2009. Oxfam and ActionAid International Viet Nam; and “Participatory poverty monitoring in rural communities in Viet Nam - Third Round Synthesis Report 2009”, April 2010. Oxfam and ActionAid International Viet Nam and “Participatory poverty monitoring in rural communities in Viet Nam - Fourth Round Synthesis Report 2010” April 2011. Oxfam and ActionAid International Viet Nam.

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2

10000

Distance to the nearest high school (km)

Distance to the nearest market (km)

Average agricultural land/person (m2)

58.0

1

Distance to the nearest secondary school (km)

Village poverty rate by the end of 2010 (%)

0.5

Distance to the nearest primary school (km)

520

2

Distance to the nearest commune healthcare centre (km)

Average food / person/year (kg)

0.5

Distance to the nearest road (km)

Tay (98%)

Main ethnicity

2

97

Total number of households

Distance to the commune centre (km)

High mountain

Valley

Topography

47.0

450

10562

4

20

5

0

4

4

4

H’Mong (100%)

52

Yes

Yes

Phase 2 of Programme 135

Minh Phong

Mich B

Village

Bac Ha

Vi Xuyen

Thuan Hoa

District

Commune

66.7

315

N/A

2

30

2

2

1.5

2

2

Tay (100%)

30

Valley

Yes

Doi 1

93.0

310

N/A

15

15

15

0.2

15

5

13

H’Mong (100%)

30

High mountain

Yes

Khu Chu Tung1

Ban Lien

Lao Cai

Ha Giang

Province

No

Chan Nuoi 2

93

47.6

380

385

1

6

2.6

2

1

0

2.5

2.7

800

350

1

5

3

3

1

0

4

Thai (80%) Kinh Kinh (93.5%) (20%)

86

Low Valley mountain

No

Pa Dong

Thanh Xuong

Dien Bien

Dien Bien

84.0

120

N/A

17

17

0.4

0.4

0.4

0.4

0.4

Thai (98%)

37

High mountain

Yes

Xop Mat

95.0

147

N/A

26

26

4

0.2

12

12

12

Kh’Mu (98.7%)

170

High mountain

Yes

Cham Puong

Luong Minh

Tuong Duong

Nghe An

No

Yes

Troan Ô

Xy La

Yes

Xy

Huong Hoa

Quang Tri

50.7

300

1002

1

12

1

0.03

1,2

0.2

1

Kinh (100%)

140

53.1

270

718

1.5

8

1.7

1.5

1

0.5

1.5

Kinh (100%)

102

81.0

N/A

9620

24

8

1.5

1.5

1.5

0

1.5

Van Kieu (97.6%)

48

71.9

N/A

N/A

22.5

6

0.5

0.5

0.5

0

0.5

Van Kieu (99%)

33

Low Low Low Low mounmountain mountain mountain tain

No

Huong Tan

Duc Huong

Vu Quang

Ha Tinh

Huong Tho

TABLE 2. Characteristics of the 20 villages in the poverty monitoring network

15.8

N/A

2692

7

7.5

3

1

6.5

0

6.5

Kinh (95%)

147

Highland

No

Dong Tam

15.3

N/A

900

2

2

2

0,1

2

0

2

Ede (94%)

156

Highland

No

M’Hang

Cu Hue

Eakar

Dak Lak

No

Yes

Yes

43.0

N/A

1351

0.5

1

0.5

0.5

0.5

0

0.6

Raglai (47%) Kinh (52%)

294

69.1

N/A

2710

1.7

1

1

0.6

1.7

0

2.1

Raglai (67%) Kinh (33%)

188

81.9

N/A

11953

14

14

1.2

0.2

0.1

0.1

0.4

Raglai (95%)

142

63.4

N/A

6397

13

13

3

1.5

3

0

2.7

Raglai (95%)

94

Low Low Low Low mountain mountain mountain mountain

No

Da Ba Cai

Phuoc Thanh Ma Du

Bac Ai Ta Lu 1 Ma Hoa

Phuoc Dai

Ninh Thuan

20 35.1

N/A

712

1

0.5

1.5

0.5

1

0

1

Kh’mer (80%) Kinh (20%)

274

Delta

No

Thuy Hoa

39.5

315

2280

2.5

2.5

2.5

1

2.5

0.6

3

Kh’mer (67%) Kinh (33%)

396

Delta

No

Soc Chua

Thuan Hoa

Cau Ngang

Tra Vinh


3

77

97

27

18

36

0

90

100

69

8

17

38

3

0

30

37

63

53

90

90

7

3

97

10

7

90

67

47

70

83

33

32

27

57

87

57

0

17

20

93

70

93

17

0

63

100

83

29

34

73

83

93

0

3

7

63

83

40

0

3

50

97

Bac Ha Ban Lien Doi 1 Khu Chu Tung1

Vi Xuyen Thuan Hoa Mich Minh B Phong

97

Lao Cai

Ha Giang

43

32

21

90

100

97

7

7

77

80

87

93

3

3

0

100

13

15

5

80

100

90

13

13

33

100

90

100

7

57

0

100

Dien Bien Thanh Xuong Pa Chan Dong Nuoi 2

Dien Bien

53

25

20

20

10

7

7

37

20

67

43

77

3

100

83

100

77

49

16

24

10

13

0

30

13

27

17

27

13

100

63

47

Tuong Duong Luong Minh Xop Cham Mat Puong

Nghe An

(*) Data obtained from the random household questionnaire survey at the end of 2011 SOURCE: Village information sheets

Poverty rate by the end of 2009 in the study sample of 30 households % (*)

Households with motorbikes % (*) Households with telephones % (*) Households with members engaged in local wage labour % (*) Households with remittance from migrant labourers % (*) Households with income from trading and services % (*) Households selling products in the last 12 months % (*) Households buying materials in the last 12 months % (*) Households benefiting from agri. extension services in the last 12 months % (*) Household members with no schooling % (*) Household members who have not completed primary education % (*)

Households using electricity % (*) Households using piped water % (*) Households with manual/ automatic flush toilet % (*) Households with radio/ cassette % (*) Households with TV % (*)

Village

Province District Commune

27

10

7

72

90

86

3

30

7

93

63

93

17

50

0

100

27

10

4

73

93

97

7

37

17

90

67

97

20

37

0

100

Vu Quang Duc Huong Huong Huong Tho Tan

Ha Tinh

57

31

42

77

3

90

0

0

17

40

77

83

10

0

40

100

60

29

36

97

0

93

7

3

37

73

73

67

0

7

97

97

Huong Hoa Xy Troan Xy La O

Quang Tri

13

11

4

43

90

100

3

17

20

97

93

100

20

43

0

100

30

43

17

43

70

73

10

7

63

63

83

93

10

20

0

100

Eakar Cu Hue Dong M’Hang Tam

Dak Lak

37

44

27

17

47

70

7

0

27

79

40

87

7

13

87

97

40

42

29

35

30

67

7

13

30

63

50

73

17

10

70

100

53

30

55

27

10

63

0

0

7

43

37

80

0

3

70

87

67

27

45

50

13

50

7

0

30

47

77

83

3

10

0

100

Bac Ai Phuoc Dai Phuoc Thanh Ta Lu Ma Hoa Ma Du Da Ba 1 Cai

Ninh Thuan

21

100 33 43 17 90 73 80 63 57 7 73 77

35 12 36

47

100 66 35 21 100 52 66 69 79 7 31 41

28 20 46

66

Cau Ngang Thuan Hoa Thuy Soc Hoa Chua

Tra Vinh


Part 1 Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction 1. OVERVIEW OF POVERTY TRENDS 1.1. Poverty trends Poverty in Viet Nam is measured using either expenditure poverty lines defined by the World Bank together with General Statistics Office (GSO/WB) or the income poverty line set by the Government. The Government has raised the income poverty line for the 2011-2015 period, resulting in an increase in the proportion of poor households. Expenditure poverty lines of the World Bank and GSO Poverty reduction in Viet Nam has been impressive. In the 1993-2008 period national poverty incidence declined from 58.1 percent to 14.5 percent according to GSO/WB poverty lines while the “poverty gap”6 has also narrowed, from 18.5 percent to 3.5 percent. Access to basic social and infrastructure services (education, health, electricity, road, portable water, and environmental sanitation) also improved significantly. Table 1.1 shows how the pace of poverty reduction has slowed in recent years. Rural poverty incidence has declined at an average of less than one percentage point annually between 2006 and 2008, compared to three to four percentage points in previous years. Poverty incidence among ethnic minority groups has declined slowly and remains high; estimated at more than 50 percent in 2008. The fact that poverty reduction has slowed and is uneven across regions and ethnic groups presents a challenge to policy makers. The expenditure poverty lines used since 1993 are now out of date, are lower than international and regional poverty lines and need to be brought into line with the new household’s expenditure structure and expectations in Viet Nam7. If the poverty line is raised to international levels the poverty picture in Viet Nam changes substantially. TABLE 1.1. Percentage of people living in poverty in Viet Nam, using GSO/WB expenditure poverty lines, 1993-2008 (%) 1993

1998

2002

2004

2006

2008

All of Viet Nam

58.1

37.4

28.9

19.5

16 .0

14.5

Urban

25.1

9.5

6.6

3.6

3.9

3.3

Rural

66.4

44.9

35.6

25.0

20.4

18.7

Kinh and Hoa

53.9

31.1

23.1

13.5

10.3

9.0

Ethnic minorities

86.4

75.2

69.3

60.7

52.3

50.3

SOURCE: GSO, “Results of Viet Nam Household Living Standards Survey 2008”, Statistics Publishing House, Hanoi, 2010 - “Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam: Achievements and Challenges”, Poverty Assessment Synthesis Report 20082010, Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences, October 2010.

6 The “Poverty Gap” Index indicates the gap between the average expenditure of the poor group and the poverty line. 7 The expenditure poverty line defined by the WB and GSO in 1993 has been updated in the years in which Viet Nam Household Living Standards Survey (VHLSS) was conducted. At the time of this report, no official updated statistics on expenditure poverty from VHLSS 2010 because GSO is considering to increase the expenditure poverty line to be suitable to household expenditure structure in Viet Nam in the new context.

25


Participatory poverty monitoring in rural communities in Viet Nam

26

The Government’s national income poverty line Poverty in rural Viet Nam fell in the 2004-2010 period, according to the Government’s 2006-2010 income poverty line. At the end of 2010 the Government adopted a new poverty line for the 2011-2015 period, according to which rural households and urban households with an income per capita less than or equal to 400,000 VND and 500,000 VND per month respectively are considered poor. Raising the income poverty line increases the rural household poverty rate by four percentage points (Table 1.2). TABLE 1.2. Poor household rates in Viet Nam using the Government’s income poverty line, in the period 2004-2010 (%) Old income poverty line

All of Viet Nam Urban Rural

2004 18.1 8.6 21.2

2006 15,5 7.7 17.0

2008 13,4 6.7 16.1

2010 10.7 5.1 13.2

New income poverty line 2010 14.2 6.9 17.4

Source: GSO, “Key results from Viet Nam Household Living Standards Survey 2010”, June 2011 Note: • The income poverty line for the period 2006-2010 was set at an average income of 200,000 VND person month in rural areas and 260,000 VND /person/month in urban areas. The poverty rate in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010 was measured by GSO using the poverty line for 2006-2010 with some adjustment due to price changes in the corresponding year. • The Government’s income poverty line for the 2011-2015 period is set at an average income of up to 400,000 VND/person/month in rural areas and 500,000 VND/person/month in urban areas (Decision No. 09/2011/QD-TTg dated 30/1/2011 of the Prime Minister).

Poverty reduction was uneven in the 2006-2010 period. Poverty rates fell most rapidly (4-5% annually) in areas with diverse livelihoods, favourable conditions for commodity production, migrant labour and local casual jobs. Poverty rates remain high among ethnic minority groups living in remote mountainous areas. According to the new poverty line the poverty rate at the monitoring points in late 2010 rose sharply. Figure 1.1 shows the proportion of poor households in some villages of the Kh’Mu, H’Mong, Thai, Raglai, and Van Kieu in northern mountainous and central provinces is more than seventy percent. These villages are far from socioeconomic centres, main roads, schools, commune health stations and markets. Most have an unstable agricultural model, are prone to natural disasters and disease and have few sources of non-agricultural employment. Ensuring basic food security remains a challenge for local people. Villages face unique difficulties such as no access to the national grid or problems with illegal drugs.

Perception of life changes The proportion of people who feel their lives have improved over the last five years is high in most monitoring points (Table 1.3). Four reported reasons are: availability of labour, favourable market prices, improved access to loans, and the introduction of new seed varieties. Only a small proportion of respondents felt their lives had got “worse” in the last five years (nine percent of the 600 households). The four most reported reasons for a decline in living standards were: labour shortage (household members are elderly, disabled or ill), natural disasters, a shortage of capital, and unfavourable prices. Price volatility improved the lives of some households (higher sale prices for produce), and hurt others (the price of inputs and essentials rose faster than produced outputs).


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

TABLE 1.3. Feelings about life changes, 2007 - 2011 Commune

Life over the last five years (%)

27

Reasons for improvement (%)

Better Same Worse Do not Access know to capital sources

Having man power

Thuan Hoa

68

28

3

0

27

54

Having new suitable varieties 66

Ban Lien

68

28

3

0

54

56

Thanh Xuong

75

18

7

0

40

Luong Minh

73

17

10

0

73

17

10

Xy

85

15

Cu Hue

52

Phuoc Dai

Knowledge Favourable Good Less Less Others of farming prices irrigation affected epidemics technique system by and pests disasters 44

27

2

12

15

0

41

22

66

7

7

5

5

80

31

31

31

4

20

22

2

36

45

45

36

25

7

9

5

27

0

36

45

45

36

25

7

9

5

27

0

0

6

69

12

18

47

0

65

33

0

45

3

0

29

48

26

39

65

0

39

13

3

38

53

7

2

52

48

26

17

30

30

43

9

0

Phuoc Thanh

27

45

22

7

44

94

0

0

19

19

44

0

0

Thuan Hoa

52

38

10

0

13

90

19

16

26

6

23

10

0

Average

55

34

9

2

33

64

32

26

40

6

27

14

7

Duc Huong

SOURCE: Household interviews

1.2. Household poverty reduction strategies at the monitoring points Poverty trends at the monitoring points are linked to labour division strategies. Macro level factors have affected all households. These include improved infrastructure, increased economic opportunities, FIGURE 1.1. Poverty rates in 20 surveyed more non-agricultural jobs and villages according to new poverty line, 2010 better educational, health and agricultural extension services. At the household level, effective labour division strategies are of decisive significance. Household labour division strategies vary between communes, villages and households, and often involve a combination of agricultural and non-agricultural jobs and study depending on the age of household members (Figure 1.2). • Agricultural employment: Diversification and intensive farming in agricultural production and making use of land advantages (Thuan HoaHa Giang, Ban Lien-Lao Cai, Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, and Cu HueDak Lak). Increasing income from agriculture remains a popular strategy in mountainous areas, particularly among middle-aged and elderly people. • Non-agricultural employment: SOURCE: Poverty statistics provided by communes


Participatory poverty monitoring in rural communities in Viet Nam

28 •

Mostly working away from home, local jobs (casual or more permanent), trading or small businesses. Most migrant workers concentrate in the lowland and Kinh dominated areas (Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Duc Huong-Ha Tinh, and Thuan HoaTra Vinh). Most are young or middle-aged. Education: Use of income from agricultural and non-agricultural work to invest in children’s and young people’s education (at most monitoring sites).

The exercise summarizing direct reasons contributing to better life at the monitoring points. The methodology “life history interviews” in the last five years (2007-2011) was applied in in-depth interviews of households selected in the survey

Non-agricultural employment (incl. migration) Youth, middle-aged Children, young

HHs

Education

Middle-aged, elderly Agricultural employment

Infrastructure improvement Market, employment opportunities Social and productive services

round in 2011. The responses of 110 households are summarized in Table 1.4. TABLE 1.4. Reasons for better life at the monitoring points, 2007-2011 No.

Direct reasons for better life over the last five years

Frequencies

1

Diversified, intensive commodity production

66

2

Gradual accumulation from livestock breeding

42

3

Local casual jobs

29

4

Working away from home

27

5

Benefiting from Government’s support policies (in housing construction, raising children with disabilities, social assistance and allowance...)

25

6

Expanding area of productive land

23

7

Having more man power

13

8

Trading, business and agricultural services

9

9

More goods exchanges, purchase

7

10

Households with members who are in detoxification centres or working away from home

3

11

Getting married to foreigners

1

SOURCE: In-depth interviews of selected households


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

Diversified intensive commodity production. The strategy of diversifying and combining short-term and long-term crops was common to households who reported improved living conditions (such as combining rice and tea in Ban Lien-Lao Cai, maize and coffee in Cu Hue-Dak Lak, rice and vegetables in Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, rice and subsidiary crops in Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh). In mountainous ethnic minority communes, diversification helps households manage risk and increases the effective use of labour and land. In lowland Kinh dominated communes the introduction of new varieties and farming techniques has increased crop yields, helping many households escape from poverty (Box 1.1).

BOX 1.1. Escaping from poverty thanks to the application of improved techniques in production Mr. D.T.M’s family from Huong Tan village, Duc Huong commune (Vu Quang, Ha Tinh) suffered a series of traumatic events. In 2006 Mr D.T.M’s wife had an accident. In 2007, his father was hospitalized due to serious illness, and in 2008 his child also suffered serious illness. Mr D.T.M used all his savings for medical treatment. In early 2009, Mr. D.T.M. was elected as head of the Village Farmers’ Association Branch, and had an opportunity to take part in training courses on subsidiary crop production. Thanks to investments in manure and by sowing a more suitable density of seeds, the yield of his peanuts increased from 0.15 to 0.19-0.2 ton/sao. In 2009, after making a profit of 20 million VND Mr D.T.M bought more cows and rented another two sao of land for farming. In 2010 his household made a profit of 50 million VND. He rented another four sao of land and bought a corn threshing machine. In 2011, he rented one mau of land (from villagers’ 5% allotted land and from households with a shortage of labour) and bought a milling machine. He estimated he would make a profit of 80 million VND in 2011. Improved production techniques helped Mr D.T.M’s household escape from poverty. Relative living standards

Effective application of peanut farming techniques and investment, profit of 20 million

Well-off Head of Farmers’ Association Branch, took part in training courses

Rented more

Average

land, bought a Continued applying advanced techniques and leased more land, profit of 50 million. Invested in maize threshing machine

Poor Wife illness

Extremely poor

Father illnes

Children illness

milling machine. (estimated profit of 80 mil)

s

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Accumulating capital from livestock breeding. Cattle breeding plays an important role in the lives of rural farmers, particularly those in mountainous and ethnic minority areas. It is a profitable investment and provides draught and manure for agricultural production. At the monitoring points, most of the loans granted by the Social Policy Bank in the past five years were used by households to invest in livestock. Accumulation from livestock helps households invest in building houses, purchasing property, expanding productive land, and investing in children’s education (Box 1.2). However, the profit rate from cattle breeding is low (buffalos and cows only gives birth once a year), and is subject to adverse weather and disease. Two cold spells in 2008 and 2011 destroyed the livestock of many households. Pig and poultry breeding are similarly vulnerable.

29


Participatory poverty monitoring in rural communities in Viet Nam

30

BOX 1.2. Households gradually accumulate from livestock Ms L.T.X., of the Tay ethnic group escaped from poverty with buffalo and pig farming in Doi 1 village, Ban Lien commune (Bac Ha, Lao Cai). Between 2007 and 2009 she and her husband grew tea on an upland farm. Every year, her household was short of food for 2-3 months. Over the next few years Mrs L.T.X. sold pigs and cattle to purchase more productive land. In April 2010, she sold four pig litters and bought one hectare of land to grow tea. In August 2010, she sold a buffalo calf. In October 2010, she received 9 million as compensation for land used for road construction. She bought more land worth 3 million VND, paid a debt of 1.2 million, and used the remaining money to buy paddy. In 2010, her household registered to grow 0.5 ha of pine trees and aims to harvest them in 2015. In November 2011, her buffalo gave birth to another calf. She still has an outstanding bank loan of 12 million VND. She and her husband intended to sell a calf to pay the outstanding loan: “We will sell a one-year old calf to pay the debt. After paying debt, we can escape from poverty. Our life is better thanks to pig and buffalo breeding.” Relative living standards

Average

Has baby Gets married

Uses 9 million dong from land compensation to buy wet rice land and clear debt

Borrowing money from Social Policy Bank to buy a buffalo and piglets

Four pig litters

Wet rice land affected by road construction

Uses profits from pigs to buy tea planting land Another buffalo was delivered

Poor

Moves to a new house

A new buffalo was delivered

Extremely Poor

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Migrant work and local casual jobs. Over the past five years wages from local casual work for both men and women have increased in line with inflation. At some monitoring points casual jobs depend on the weather, seasons and individual projects. Incomes from local casual work is typically spent on necessary expenditures such as rice, food, and school fees. Savings tends to be low. In contrast remittances from men and women working away from home contributes significantly to increasing household incomes, providing for daily necessities, housing improvements and children’s education. Migratory labour is most prominent in lowland and Kinh areas such as Duc Huong-Ha Tinh, Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh and Cu Hue-Dak Lak, where many households have escaped poverty. Poor mountainous and ethnic minority households tend to lack the social relations, education and health necessary to secure migrant jobs. See Section 5 “Labour Mobility and Gender Impacts”. Expanding productive land. Households with surplus labour expand productive land


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

by reclaiming, buying or renting land. In northern mountainous and ethnic minority areas (Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang, and Ban Lien-Lao Cai), many people try to reclaim small terraced fields in well watered places. In Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, many households rent land from state-owned farms. In Ban Lien-Lao Cai, some households bought tea hills from those with surplus land. The second round of land plot merging and exchange in 2009 in Duc Huong-Ha Tinh provided land-shortage households with more land to till. In Duc HuongHa Tinh, some households rented land from those lacking labour (particularly the elderly or those with children working away from home) to expand production. Land expansion is limited by population growth and an increasing shortage of arable and irrigated land. Benefiting from direct government support policies. Government policies for housing construction (Decision 167), concessional loans, support for disabled children and social assistance (Decree 67) have helped many poor people (Box 1.3).

BOX 1.3. Households with disabled children benefit from Government assistance Mr. H.T.H is head of a poor Kh’mer household with no productive land in Thuy Hoa village, Thuan Hoa commune (Cau Ngang, Tra Vinh). He has three children. The youngest son is ten years old and severely disabled. Mr. H.T.H earns a wage carrying rice husks and goes fishing for his household’s daily food. His wife cannot do physically arduous work, but earns occasional income doing small jobs. In 2008, his eldest daughter went to work in a garment factory in Binh Duong province. In late 2009, with Government assistance, his son moved to a specialist centre for disabled children in Tra Vinh Province. As a result Mr H.T.H no longer has to purchase food, clothing and, most importantly, medical treatment for his son. Mr. H.T.H said, “He can go to school. He is now at second grade and is an excellent student. He can read and write now. Since he went to Tra Vinh, our family life has been much less difficult.” In 2010, he received assistance to build his house under Decision 167. His relatives also provided support. In late 2010 his wife had an accident and could no longer work. In early 2011, their second son also went to work in Binh Duong, and, along with his sister, now sends money home every month. Relative living standards Constructing house under Decision 167

Average Youngest son with

Second son goes to work in Binh Duong

disabilities nurtured by the State Eldest daughter working in Binh Duong

Poor

Wife can no longer work Extremely poor

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Investment in education is not matched economic efficiency for rural households. Investment in children’s education has increased in most of the monitoring points in the past five years (2007-2011). However, for many the returns have proved unsatisfactory. In the short run, households face higher costs. In Duc Huong-Ha Tinh, for example,

31


Participatory poverty monitoring in rural communities in Viet Nam

32

many households secured large loans to fund college or university education for their children. However, after graduating, young people could not find work and returned home to work on the family farm or in casual waged employment. There are a number of reasons for graduates’ failure to find work: subjects studied are often only suitable for public services, which have few available positions or which require “relations” to find a job; there are few job opportunities in local enterprises, and some graduates do not want to work away from home; education for rural young people, particularly those who study at colleges and secondary vocational schools at provincial level, is often of low quality.

1.3. Diverse poverty groups Disadvantaged groups are classified as the “chronically” poor8, temporarily poor (those who can possibly escape from poverty), vulnerable poor, and near-poor /people who just escaped from poverty. The “Chronically” poor

 IGURE 1.3. Poverty trends in 20 surveyed F villages, 2007 - 2010

There are many “chronically poor” people in ethnic minority groups in remote areas (Figure 1.3). In lowland, Kinh villages the percentage of the chronically poor is very low (Dong Tam village-ĐL, M’Hang village-ĐL, and Chan Nuoi 2 village-ĐB). On average 23 percent of the surveyed households are “chronically poor”. Chronically poor households often suffer from a shortage of labour, because their members tend to be elderly, have small children or suffer illness or disability. The chronically poor ethnic minority people often have little or poor quality land, are unable to speak Vietnamese and mostly work as wage labourers. Other chronically poor households have members with drug dependency problems. The chronically poor are SOURCE: Statistics of household interviews particularly vulnerable. Note: Poverty Statistics 2007-2010 according to the old Chronically poor households are income poverty line of the Government. often short of food, have no savings and rely on relatives and the local community for support. As a result they are particularly vulnerable to illness, disease or natural disasters. Many also have difficulty accessing credit. Chronic poverty is intergenerational. Families with many children, little productive land and who cannot invest in their children’s education remain poor across generations (Box 1.4). 8 “Chronically” poor households are those classified as poor households for four consecutive years (2007 - 2010). Households which are not included in the list of poor households for four consecutive years are considered “non-poor”. The remainder regularly change status.


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

BOX 1.4. Some Chronically poor households have many children Mr. T.M, 39 years-old, of the Kh’mer ethnic group in Soc Chua village, Thuan Hoa commune (Cau Ngang, Tra Vinh) heads a chronically poor household with no productive land. He earns a living as a tractor driver. Mr T.M has 11 children who are responsible for feeding themselves. His eight school-age children do not go to school. Before 2007, Mr T.M’s household was often short of food. In 2008, Mr T.M. tried to breed cows and ducks but with little success. In 2009, his wife gave birth to their eleventh child. Their eldest daughter, who was 14 years old, had to leave school in the 7th grade to work as a maid in the city. She was occasionally able to send one or two million VND home to help buy food. Two sons moved to Chau Thanh district to tend ducks for an acquaintance’s family. They send about 700,000 VND per month. The younger children, who do not attend school, occasionally work cleaning rice, “assisting people by holding rice bags”. In 2010, Mr T.M. had a vasectomy. With their children’s money he and his wife began breeding chicken and tended two cows on contract for other people. They bought a second-hand motorbike. They also sent two children to primary school. In 2011, they tended four cows and sold cow dung. They also gained access to electricity. His wife had an accident and she had to stay at home. Mr T.M’s household also struggled with inflation and rising costs: “Text books cost us more than 200,000 VND, and contribution to school was 70,000 VND. Currently we owe 4 million VND of rice, seasoning powder, and cooking oil”. Relative living standards

Gave birth to 11th

Average

child

Poultry breeding

Eldest daughter stopped school at 7th grade to go to work

Working children remit money home

Wife had accident

Poor

Second and third son tend ducks for wages, send home money monthly

Extremely poor 2007

2008

2009

Chicken breeding, bought second hand motorbike, sent two children to school

2010

Tended cows which gave birth to 2 calves, had electricity meter installed 2011

The temporarily poor Households in the “temporarily poor” group make up the largest proportion poor households. The temporarily poor have labour and the desire to improve their lives, but lack capital, technical knowledge, and access to markets. Typical households are young newly established families. Such households, if provided support can probably escape from poverty. Many households have made use of Govvernment support or market opportunities and, when possible, apply advanced farming techniques. Poor households with specific vulnerabilities Some households are poor for specific reasons. These include those who live in disasterprone areas, those who live in isolation, drug users and the Kh’mer, who have limited or no productive land. The poor in disaster-prone areas. In disaster-prone areas poor households who

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live in very low-lying land, on the banks or edges of streams, and on mountain slopes are vulnerable. Most poor households are short of food between harvests, and when faced with natural disasters food is even more scarce. Poor ethnic minority groups are particularly vulnerable as they have minimal proficiency in the Vietnamese language, lack audio-visual devices, and have limited access to information on natural disasters. Some households choose not to move from dangerous areas due to their practice of upland farming and the advantages of living close to water sources. When men work away from home women and the elderly are forced to cope with natural disasters alone. People living in isolation. These include those newly arrived in the commune, recently separated households, households with upland fields and elderly or sick members who are unable to return home every day and households who rely on forests for a living. Isolated households in ethnic minority areas often live in temporary houses and have limited access to crucial infrastructure and services (for example, electricity, water, schools and health care). They also tend to participate less in in community activities. It is difficult to communicate and disseminate policies and laws to these households. People with limited or no productive land. This is a difficulty faced by poor Kh’mer people in the Mekong River Delta. Due to a lack of productive land, most Kh’mer work away from home or are engaged in local casual jobs. The Government issued Decision 74 on allocating residential land and farmland to poor ethnic minority households in the Mekong River Delta. However, the Decision has not been implemented effectively in Thuan Hoa commune-Tra Vinh, as there is no fertile land for sale and banks are slow to grant credit. Local authorities have unsuccessfully sought to encourage households to breed livestock. Drug use, is a particular problem for the Thai in Luong Minh-Nghe An and Thanh XuongDien Bien. In Luong Minh-Nghe An, improved roads have caused the spread of drug use to remote Kh’Mu villages. Households with drug users are disadvantaged in a number of ways. Drug users tend to sell household property and spend household income on drugs. Households lack labour. As the majority of drug users are men, women face an extra burden, and some children give up school in order to support their family. At present, community-based detoxification measures are ineffective. Almost 100% of people taking part in short-term detoxification in the two surveyed communes (Luong Minh-Nghe An, Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien) relapsed. In Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, the Dien Bien Provincial HIV/AIDS Centre has since 2010 piloted the use of methadone with some initial success. The near-poor Adequate support policies are not available for the near-poor or those who have just escaped from poverty. A “near-poor” household has an average per capita income within 130% of the income poverty line. In mountainous ethnic minority areas, near-poor households often have unstable incomes as agricultural production is dependent on weather conditions, and seasonal labour. In addition, the near-poor are vulnerable to changing prices, illness and the high cost of education.


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

TABLE 1.5. Near-poor, 2008 - 2011 (%) Commune

According to old poverty line Late 2008

Late 2009

According to new poverty line Late 2010

Late 2011

Poor HHs

Nearpoor HHs

Poor HHs

Near poor HHs

Poor HHs

Nearpoor HHs

Poor HHs

Nearpoor HHs

Thuan Hoa

42.8

-

35

7.3

62

15

56.4

15.8

Ban Lien

59.9

10.4

54.5

3.7

82.7

-

63

10.8

Thanh Xuong

11.2

3.5

8.2

0.6

11,7

6

7.5

5.6

Luong Minh

78.7

-

83.6

9.2

94

4.3

85.3

9.1

Duc Huong

40.6

31.7

28.4

23.6

52.5

19

43.3

18

Xy

49.8

18.9

42.2

26.7

73.5

8.1

72.1

6.1

Cu Hue

11.9

13

8.7

14

15.4

17.9

11.4

14

Phuoc Dai

58.4

32.9

58.2

10

64.2

11.9

57.8

16.6

Phuoc Thanh

56.5

32.7

52.8

16.5

77.2

7.4

70.9

11.8

Thuan Hoa

33.9

12.1

28.5

19.3

32.7

16.5

26.7

6.5

SOURCE: Statistics of the poor and near-poor households are provided by communes Note: (-) no statistics available.

There are currently two policies supporting near-poor households: (i) members of nearpoor households are entitled to a 50 percent discount on the cost of voluntary health insurance; and (ii) children in near-poor households are entitled to concessional loans to pursue vocational training or secondary and tertiary education. The second policy appears to be the most effective. Households whose children are in further education are often given priority for near-poor status, so that they can access concessional loans. There is little interest in the health insurance subsidy. Households lack funds and information and the opportunity to purchase health insurance. 1.4. Vulnerability In 2011, rural people felt natural disasters and epidemics/pests were the two primary difficulties they faced. As in 2008 inflation was also a problem in 2011 (See Section 4 “Coping with price volatility�).

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TABLE 1.6. Feeling of local residents facing risks that greatly affect their lives, 2007-2011 (%) Commune

Percent of HHs facing risks

Key risks greatly affecting household lives in 2011

2007 2011

Natural disasters, drought, flood

Thuan Hoa

48 33

10

95

10

5

0

0

15

0

Ban Lien

56 67

19

92

30

0

5

0

8

11

Thanh Xuong 20 24

31

46

8

0

0

0

77

8

Luong Minh

66 72

93

79

43

12

43

5

26

0

Duc Huong

63 35

73

55

46

14

5

0

55

0

Xy

26 61

75

86

39

8

3

3

28

3

Cu Hue

58 35

5

62

43

5

5

10

33

0

Phuoc Dai

43 69

60

62

45

7

5

2

21

2

Phuoc Thanh 63 59

76

55

36

6

3

0

6

0

Thuan Hoa

40 42

21

46

13

42

13

13

29

8

Average

48 49

52

70

34

10

10

3

26

3

Epidemics, Unfavourable Under Ineffective Ineffective Illness, pests, disease prices employment, use of application of accident unstable jobs loans new varieties techniques

Others

SOURCE: Household interviews

Natural disasters Households at the monitoring points experienced adverse and unforeseen weather conditions such as storms, floods, drought, lasting rain and severe cold. This appears to suggest the increasing impact of climate change. Severe storms and floods. During the historic double flood in late 2010, Duc Huong commune-Ha Tinh was submerged. Infrastructure was destroyed, houses and buffalo stables were demolished or seriously damaged, property and livestock was washed away and agricultural produce and materials were water damaged. Following the flood, livestock feed was scarce and straw to feed buffalos and cows cost as much as paddy. Some households were forced to sell property and livestock to buy straw for their cattle. Unusual and prolonged hot spells and drought. In 2010, seven communes were hit by severe and long hot spells, compared to only two communes in 2009. In some communes such as Luong Minh-Nghe An, Xy-Quang Tri, and Phuoc Thanh-Ninh Thuan hot spells were one or two months longer than in 2009 and temperatures 3-40C higher. Harvests suffered, income from agricultural production fell and water was scarce. Prolonged rainfall. In 2010, five communes (compared to six 2009) experienced unusually prolonged rain and hurricane force winds, sometimes lasting for seven days. In remote communes such as Luong Minh-Nghe An, Xy-Quang Tri and Phuoc Dai-Ninh Thuan, heavy rain destroyed crops, and affected other sources of income such as wild vegetables and bamboo shoots, hunting in forests, fishing, collecting dried cow dung or


Five-year Synthesis Report

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local casual jobs of poor households. In some areas (Cu Hue-Dak Lak, Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh) yields of rice, corn and coffee fell. In 2011 in Luong Minh, Nghe An heavy rain caused landslides along many roads, and the suspended bridge linking rural areas to the commune centre was seriously damaged. The headquarters of Luong Minh commune People’s Committee and all households in Xop Mat village had to be moved to escape the landslides. Repeated long, severe cold spells at some monitoring points in mountainous areas in early 2008 and early 2011. According to local cadres and residents the two cold spells were distinctly different. In early 2008, the cold lasted nearly 40 days leading to a shortage of cattle feed and, partly because of poorly constructed stables, the loss of large numbers of cattle. In 2011 the cold spell was shorter, but because temperatures dropped quickly (from 10oC to 0oC), despite improved cowsheds and feed reserves, many cattle died (Box 1.5). In Ban Lien-Lao Cai, 210 buffalos died in 2008 and 243 died in 2011. Most poor households had borrowed money from the Social Policy Bank to buy livestock, so when their buffalos and cows died, they struggled to repay their debts. Reduced numbers of buffalos also increased the price of calves, making it difficult for people to replenish their herds.

BOX 1.5. Difficulties coping with cold weather Following the severe cold spell in late 2007 and early 2008 that killed 18,760 cattle in Lao Cai province, local authorities have tried to help people protect their cattle in cold weather. Nevertheless, a cold spell in late 2010 and early 2011 killed a further 14,030 cattle in the province. The following suggestions may help farmers cope with cold weather: • • • • • •

Farmers require support and training to grow and tend grass to provide food for cattle in winter Farmers should store dried straw for winter cattle feed Farmers require guidance to prepare fine feed for cattle Distribute leaflets with instructions on ways to protect cattle from the cold Provide farmers with enough canvas to cover cowsheds Provide support and funds to build solid cowsheds

Cutting expenditures, increasing purchases on credit and diversifying livelihoods are ways to manage the risk of natural disaster. In ethnic minority areas many people use traditional techniques to manage the risks posed by potential natural disasters. These include: • Labour exchange to grow crops in time, • Intercropping (beans and corn), contour hill-side farming (maize on the upper tier, vegetables in the middle and rice on the lowest tier) to prevent soil erosion or landslides, diversification of food crops, • Increased use of local varieties in order to reduce investment, • Bringing cattle and poultry to upland fields to avoid disease, However, such measures, whist useful, cannot completely eradicate the risks presented by natural disasters. Direct and timely support by relatives, community, authorities and benefactors helps households cope with natural disasters. Local authorities and benefactors provide seeds, food, necessities, and household appliances. However, post natural disaster relief work still has limitations that need to be addressed (Box 1.6).

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BOX 1.6. Post natural disaster relief in Duc Huong commune Following floods in September and October 2010, people in Duc Huong commune (Vu Quang, Ha Tinh) received 90 tons of rice, clothing, food, household utensils and assistance from Government, agencies, mass organizations and benefactors. Nevertheless, the relief operation was problematic in a number of ways: •

Too many relief delegations visited the commune at the same time, causing confusion

Aid was delayed by a month

The promise of aid meant some households did not attend to their farms. In 2010, the commune harvested only 90 of a potential 200 ha of winter corn crop.

Although the first instalment of aid went to poor households and households seriously affected by the floods later instalments for better off households were of higher values.

Aid was not distributed equally: “Households with only one person received the same amount as those having six members” (poor men in Huong Tho village, Duc Huong commune).

Community-based natural disaster risk management has not yet been given sufficient attention. At most monitoring points, support measures only focused on post-natural disaster relief. There are no systematic measures addressing mitigation, prevention, adaptation and restoration, or which focus on community-based natural disaster risk management (under Decision 1002). Risk management has not yet been integrated into local socio-economic development planning. The “4-on-spot” measure9 remains difficult. A typical case is Duc Huong, Ha Tinh. Although a “4-on spot” plan is made every year, it has proved difficult to implement for a number of reasons. These include rudimentary equipment, insufficient information, poor communication, limited food and manpower and insufficient community awareness of how to prevent natural disasters. Pests, diseases, and epidemics Pests and diseases are more complicated. In 2009, four communes were attacked by pests compared to two communes in 2008. There were fewer pests and diseases in 2010 and 2011, although most monitoring points were still affected. The spring rice yield in Thuan Hoa -Ha Giang (2009), Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh (2009) and Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien (2009 and 2010) was reduced by 20-30%. The poor appeared to be disproportionately affected, as they did not use pesticides in time, or did not use them properly. Support activities undertaken by all localities to help people prevent pests and diseases have not proved effective. Improved farming systems (IPM, SRI and ICM10) have been introduced into some areas, but are very rarely applied (Box 1.7).

9 The 4-on-spot disaster prevention guideline comprises on-spot direction, on-spot forces, on-spot means and materials and on-spot logistics. 10 IPM is integrated pest management. SRI is system of rice intensification. ICM is integrated crop management, also known as “3 reductions, 3 increases” approach; in which “3 reductions” include reduction of the quantity of seeds or volume of water used, reduction of urea used, and reduction of pesticide; “3 increases” are increase of crop yields, increase of quality of agricultural produce, increase of economic efficiency over an acreage unit.


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

BOX 1.7. Difficulties applying Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Thanh Xuong commune Using too much of one variety sensitive to pests and diseases. In Thanh Xuong commune (Dien Bien district, Dien Bien province), both well-off and poor households grow Bac Thom rice variety - the sale price is higher but it is susceptible to pests and diseases. The Dien Bien District Division of Agriculture and Rural Development recommended people diversify rice varieties. They suggested the Bac Thom variety should not cover more than 45% of the total rice acreage. However, many farmers grow 70% - 80% Bac Thom rice. High rice planting density. In Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien the density of planted rice is too high. Four to five kilograms of rice seeds are recommended for 1000 m2. Rice plants grow well, with strong stems and are highly resistant to pests and diseases. However, many households plant 8-12 kg of seeds per 1000 m2. The high density means the plants suffer from high humidity, brown pests and flecked-dry disease . Using fertilizer improperly. Many people use too much urea leading to weak rice leaves and stems and increased susceptibility to brown pests, leaf spots and blights. Excessive chemical fertilizer also causes rapid soil degeneration. Abuse of pesticide. Many households use pesticides as a “preventative” measure, often spraying ten or even fifteen times per crop. Some pesticide sale agents recommend farmers spray different types of pesticide at the same time. Frequent spraying or often improper sprays damages plants and does not kill pests. Poor households also choose cheap low quality pesticides that can be harmful. Careless field cleaning. Fallow periods between rice crops are often too short. Most farmers do not clean their fields, or properly prepare soil. As a result pests often survive between crops. Agricultural extension is not effective. Many commune agricultural extension workers do not have the capacity or knowledge to properly support farmers. Over the last five years there have been fewer epidemics affecting cattle. However, pigs and poultry suffer disease more frequently. Diseases such as congestion, Foot-and-mouth and fluke worm, prevalent before 2011, have been controlled. However, pigs and poultry are suffering more frequent epidemics. 20072010 saw outbreaks of Pasteurellosis, Typhoid and “blue-ear pig epidemic” (pigs) and Newcastle and E.coli (poultry). In 2011, there were no large scale epidemics but there were pockets of disease. Due to epidemics and unfavourable prices, many households cannot or have chosen not to resume pig farming. Lack of measures for effective management of epidemics and development of cattle herds. Farming practices in many mountainous areas create difficulties for the management of cattle herds and vaccination programmes: • There are no cowsheds, and cattle are allowed to graze freely. • Vets are only contacted when cattle become seriously ill. Some communes do not have veterinary workers, and in others capacity is weak. • In mountainous areas, grazing areas are planning nor mapped. • Cattle are transported freely between regions facilitating the spread of disease. • Grass growing models for cattle during winter have often not been maintained. • Adverse weather conditions (abnormally hot and cold with high humidity) facilitate the spread of disease. • There are no systems in place to control and monitor epidemics.

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Local authorities have undertaken some measures to overcome those problems, but their effectiveness was limited. Risks associated with unstable agricultural production Increasing pressure on the land has led to shorter fallow periods in upland fields and declining soil fertility. Drought and lasting heavy rain in mountainous communes (Luong Minh-Nghe An, Xy-Quang Tri, Phuoc Dai, and Phuoc Thanh-Ninh Thuan) has further degenerated upland land. In communes close to river estuaries (Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh), drought has resulted in increased salt water infiltration. Improper agricultural farming has also affected soil fertility. In Xy commune, Quang Tri cassava farmers have not invested in fertilizer since 2003. In some lowland communes (Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Cu Hue-Dak Lak, and Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh) farmers have overused chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Attempts have been made to improve soil quality such as the provision of bio- fertilizer for cassava (Xy-Quang Tri) and tea (Ban Lien-Lao Cai); and the introduction of composting techniques (Cu Hue-Dak Lak). However, farmers have found such initiatives costly in terms of time, money and resources and they have yet to prove successful. Unstable market price makes production unsustainable. Many farmers introduce new crops too quickly in response to changing prices. In Cu Hue-Dak Lak, for example, in the early 2000s when the price of coffee fell farmers replaced coffee trees with corn, vegetables and subsidiary crops. When prices recovered farmers expanded coffee production, often on unsuitable land. Prawn farming in Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh without sufficient planning and farming techniques, is an example of the difficulties farmers face when they respond rapidly to price changes (Box 1.8).

BOX 1.8. Unstable rice-prawn model in Thuan Hoa commune Thuan Hoa commune (Cau Ngang, Tra Vinh) is located on a river estuary close to the sea. Every year, part of its farmland is infiltrated with salt water during the dry season. The commune began tiger prawn farming in 2004. In 2008, 278 households in the commune farmed tiger-prawns. However, high feed and low sale prices meant many households made losses and ceased farming. In 2009, there were only 105 farms. Only the wealthier households were able to continue farming. However, in 2009 the price of tiger prawns rose to double the 2008 price, and, in 2010, the number of farms increased. However, cold weather and insufficient water salinity meant 87 households made losses. Most did not resume farming. Continued high prices in 2011 brought the number of prawn farmers to 320 households. Many local people and officials think that the prawn-rice model in Thuan Hoa commune is unsustainable for the following reasons: • Poor farming techniques. Most farmers rely on their own experiences and word of mouth. • Ineffective disease control. Farmers use a common water source fed directly from the canal to their farms without filtering tanks, resulting in the spread of diseases such as white spots, red body and black gills. • Fluctuating prices. High feed prices in 2010 and 2011 prevented many households from investing in their farms. Some households secured high interest loans from feed agents. • Limited access to credit. Banking credit controls in 2011 meant many farmer households lacked capital. • Adverse weather. Drought, heavy rains, and abnormal temperatures meant it was difficult to control water salinity, which can easily kill young prawns.


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

Partnerships between enterprises and farmers can be beneficial. In a number of cases farmers with contracts with enterprises benefit from higher prices and technical support. In 2010 in Ban Lien-Lao Cai, tea enterprises exported organic tea with the Fair Trade marque at a premium price. Since then they have been able to raise the price of fresh tea purchased from farmers. In Phuoc Dai-Ninh Thuan, a sugar cane company has increased the supply of sugar cane on contract from 54 ha in 2009 to 100 ha in 2010. Other arrangements have been less successful, including corn seed in Cu Hue-Dak Lak, and corn seed and peanuts in Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh (Table 1.7). TABLE 1.7. Characteristics of contracted farming models at the monitoring points Time

Product characteristics

Forms of joint venture and support

Advantages Disadvantages

San Tuyet tea in Ban Lien-Lao Cai

Since 2006

Organic tea, no chemicals used; products processed for export

Multi-stakeholders (enterprises, farmer groups, tea cooperatives, households) Training provided by enterprises; activities of support groups, cooperatives; registered organic tea

Clear commitments between factories and farmers in fresh tea purchase Factories’ support policy in building organic tea areas. Increased income thanks to higher tea price

Rice seeds in Thanh XuongDien Bien

Since 2007

IR 64 and Bac Thom No. 7 varieties verified; highly intensive farming

Concentrated (Seed selection station signs contracts directly with farmers) Technical assistance; sale of original seeds to farmers on late payment

Close partnership between stakeholders: Seed selection station provides technical assistance, buys products; farmers strictly follow commitments written in contracts Farmers have highly intensive farming experiences. Rice seeds have stable price

Cassava cash crop in XyQuang Tri

Since 2003

Processed into starch for export as raw material; farmers practice extensive farming

Concentrated (Enterprise signs contracts directly with farmers). Training; support of new seed model, NPK fertilizer; building farmers‘ group Two-way sale of goods

Main crop generating income in areas where rice cannot be grown. Factory purchases products; registered harvests as scheduled; support in means of transport; Purchase price is made public Cassava price is unstable, fluctuating abnormally

Cotton in Cu HueDak Lak

Since 2005

Finished cotton products for home consumption; requirement for highly intensive farming

Concentrated (Enterprise signs contracts directly with farmers). Technical assistance; advance seeds and fertilizer

The price of cotton is stable in recent years

Sugar canes in Phuoc Dai-Ninh Thuan

Since 2009

Processed into sugar for home consumption; requirement for highly intensive farming

Concentrated (Enterprise signs contracts directly with farmers). Technical assistance; advance seeds, fertilizer

Clear commitments between enterprise and farmers in purchase of products Make use of newly reclaimed land which cannot grow wet rice. Generate stable income for farmers

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Maize seeds in Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh

From 2001 to 2009

Maize seeds for home consumption; requirement for highly intensive farming

Multi-stakeholders (enterprises, cooperatives, farmers). Technical assistance; advance seeds, fertilizer

Due to price volatility, enterprise could not sell products, thereby could not continue contracted farming

Maize seeds in Cu HueDak Lak

In 2008, failed and stopped

Maize seeds for domestic consumption; requirement for highly intensive farming

Concentrated (Enterprise signs contracts directly with farmers). Technical assistance; support seeds

The quality of seeds introduced was not good, without experiments in locality. Farmers suffered losses in time, energy and investment

Peanut in Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh

From 2007 to 2008

Processed into final products for home consumption; requirement for highly intensive farming

Concentrated (Enterprise signs contracts directly with farmers)

Loose partnership between stakeholders: No contracts signed between enterprises and farmers in purchase of products. Price increases, farmers do not sell products to enterprises but traders

It is difficult for the poor to benefit from such arrangements as it requires large scale, intensive farming that requires more labour than poor households can usually provide. The sustainability of contracted farming should be taken into consideration carefully For example, although cassava is often associated with poverty reduction it poses many risks to the poor such as soil degradation, unstable prices, and susceptibility to drought, pests and disease. Other risks In 2011 over a quarter of surveyed households suffered illness or accidents that proved costly in terms of medical costs and lost income (Table 1.6), There are many potential causes of illness at the monitoring points. Adverse weather and shortages of food and warm clothing can cause digestive and respiratory diseases, particularly in children. In flood-prone areas (Duc Huong-Ha Tinh), post-flood epidemics often break out (eye diseases, diarrhoea). Working in forests and sleeping without mosquito nets in mountainous areas increases the risk of contracting malaria (Xy-Quang Tri). Drug use is a cause of HIV/AIDS (Luong Minh-Nghe An, Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien). Strenuous physical work, insufficient food, and unsafe labour conditions can also be harmful. A lack of clean water, and drinking water that hasn’t been boiled or under cooked food is a cause of digestive diseases. Mining projects expose a threat to the local environment. Some projects have are poorly designed, badly managed and do not abide by original commitments. In Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang, for example, broken waste water tanks from a ferrous ore mining project have polluted the environment, heavy trucks have damaged inter-commune roads and the mine has taken valuable farming land. Delayed or suspended plans discourage investment. Infrastructure development projects and new commune centres (Ban Lien-Lao Cai) or district administrative centres (Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien) often affect the land and housing of many households. However, when projects are delayed households can suffer. Residents are reluctant to undertake house repairs or invest in long-term crops. Poor households in planning areas don’t even receive support for housing construction under Decision 167.


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

1.5. Gender Relations Household labour division and decision-making Gender roles have not substantially changed at the monitoring points over the last five years. Gender roles are determined by culture, long-standing values, stereotypes and prejudices. Men are still expected to undertake “heavy tasks” that require “technique”, “calculation” and “social relations”. Women are generally responsible for tasks that are time-consuming and are identified as “light” or “small”. In poor households, women undertake a larger share of the labour and care for family life, preventing them from engaging fully in production and social activities. However, there are some changes among younger people. Many ethnic minority young men share house work and children care with women because they are better educated, work away from home more and have better social understanding and contacts (Ban Lien-Lao Cai, Xy-Quang Tri, Phuoc Thanh and Phuoc Dai-Ninh Thuan). Investment in infrastructure projects help reduce the labour burden for women. In Luong Minh commune-Nghe An a project to improve the water supply has reduced the distance women have to travel to fetch water. In Xy commune-Quang Tri, a new road completed in 2009 enables men to use motorbikes to carry firewood and fetch water for women. In Ban Lien commune-Lao Cai, electricity newly supplied from the national grid, allows households to use machines in production (weeding machines, tea driers) and use electric appliances (rice cookers) in the home, lessening the domestic work load for women. New household assets provide women with more leisure time. In lowland areas such as Duc Huong-Ha Tinh, Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh, and Cu HueDak Lak, more households own gas stoves and fridges. Responsibility for household decision-making varies between monitoring points. In lowland and Kinh dominated areas such as Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Duc Huong-Ha Tinh, and Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh, major household decisions are based on consensus between husband and wife. Some Kinh or Kh’mer women make their own decisions regarding household affairs when their husbands are away. In remote mountainous ethnic minority areas such as Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang, Ban Lien-Lao Cai, and Luong Minh-Nghe An and XyQuang Tri, men still dominate household decision-making. However, over the last five years women are participating more in household affairs. In matriarchies such as the Ede in Cu Hue-Dak Lak, Raglai in Phuoc Dai and Phuoc Thanh-Ninh Thuan, women remain the dominant decision makers with regard to major events such as marriage, inheritance and the purchase of major household assets. Gender and market relations Women dominate the production and sale of high demand short-term crops and low-value products. These include cassava and vegetables in Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang, tea in Ban Lien-Lao Cai, rice and vegetables in Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, beans and peanuts in Duc Huong-Ha Tinh, squash and bamboo shoots in Luong Minh-Nghe An, banana in Xy-Quang Tri, corn in Cu Hue-Dak Lak, beans in Phuoc Thanh-Ninh Thuan, bamboo shoots in Phuoc Dai-Ninh Thuan, and vegetables in Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh (Figure 1.4). Men tend to dominate the production and sale of long-term crops or high value products such as buffalos, cows, pigs, coffee, pepper and tiger prawns.

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FIGURE 1.4. Participation of women in market chains in 2011


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

More ethnic minority women participate in buying and selling than five years ago. The main reasons are improvements in infrastructure, communication and information; the emergence of more markets, shops, and street vendors; and improved education for young ethnic minority women. In Xy commune-Quang Tri a new asphalted road (completed in 2009) running through the commune brought an increase in the number of shops and street vendors in the commune, providing Van Kieu women with opportunities to access markets. More women now understand and play a role in managing household finances. In Ban Lien-Lao Cai, ethnic minority women take are more involved in buying and selling. In 2007, H’Mong men often kept money and undertook transactions. However, by 2011 many H’Mong women knew how to keep money and sell and buy small things worth less than 100,000 VND. In Tay villages, in 2008, Ban Lien market, established in the commune centre, helped improve the market participation (Box 1.9).

BOX 1.9. Impacts of the newly built market on women in Ban Lien commune Ban Lien (Bac Ha, Lao Cai) is a remote commune. Before 2007, women had little contact with the outside world. Since 2008, Ban Lien market has provided opportunities for women in the commune: • Women spend less time going to market: “In the past, we had to walk to Bac Ha in the middle of the night, lighting torches, as flashlights were not available, and the road was difficult to walk. Today it is very convenient, buying and selling in the commune. If we have money we can buy everything. Fish and meat are available every day”. • People have more opportunity to buy and sell products: “In the past, there was only a butcher. He forced us to sell tea to him at a low price while selling meat to us at high price. Now that the market is established, there are more traders and we can sell our tea at a higher price and meat, seasoning powder, and soap is cheaper”. • Women can sell many products in the market: “In the past households with surplus vegetables gave them away as they could not be sold. Today, they can sell in the market to new households who are not yet able to grow vegetables”. • Increasing accessibility to market information of women: “Today women can update information very quickly. People talk to each other: “I can sell tea at a price of 50,000 VND while you only sold it for 40,000 VND “. We know what prices are doing”. • Improving capacity of communication and calculation of women: “Now only women go to the market. Women can take hold of more money because they sell tea at the market. Some, who did not know about money, now know about it. At the market we can talk to each other more and more”. Domestic violence There are fewer cases of physical violence at all monitoring points. In 2007, in communes such as Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh, Phuoc Thanh, Phuoc Dai-Ninh Thuan, XyQuang Tri and Cu Hue-Dak Lak, domestic violence was common. In some cases women required medical treatment. By 2011, local people and officials agreed that physical violence was on the decline, with fewer cases brought to the commune headquarters for settlement. In Pa Dong village, Thanh Xuong commune, Dien Bien in 2008, 6 domestic violence cases were brought to the commune for settlement. In 2011, there was only one case. In Cu Hue, Dak Lak, there were nine cases of domestic violence cases in 2009 and none in 2011. Similarly, in Thuan Hoa, Tra Vinh, there were seven recorded cases in 2007 and none in 2011.

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Community perceptions of domestic violence have changed. In 2007, people often thought that domestic violence was a family affair that should be resolved by families themselves. People now talk about domestic violence more openly, and display more sympathy for victims of domestic violence. In many places, women report acts of violence to the village head (Phuoc Dai, Phuoc Thanh-Ninh Thuan, Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh, Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang, and Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien) or confide in other women during Women’s Union’s meetings. There are many reasons for reduced physical violence. The Women’s Union has played an important role communicating the importance of the prevention of domestic violence. Local governments have been increasingly involved in protecting victims of domestic violence. Phuoc Dai-Ninh Thuan, for example, established a 24-hour police “hot line” for villagers wishing to report cases of domestic violence. Improved living standards and women’s increased participation in business are also important factors. Community institutions have also contributed to reducing domestic violence. In Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh, the Women’s Union has incorporated communication on the Law on Gender Equality and the Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control in the meetings of Sang Khum Association. In Duc Huong-Ha Tinh, communication on the Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control was integrated in meetings of inter-family groups facilitated by community facilitators. In the inter-family groups, there are regulations on sanctions against acts of domestic violence. Happy Family Clubs (Duc Huong-Ha Tinh, Thuan HoaHa Giang, and Cu Hue-Dak Lak) and information points (Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh) funded by ActionAid are effectively communicating the Law on Gender Equality and the Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control. Mental violence is not visible. Training and communication activities have raised awareness of forms of mental violence among local cadres and residents. However, women are more reluctant to report their husbands for mental violence. As a result it is difficult to form a true impression of the incidence of mental violence at the monitoring points. Implementation of the Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control is limited. In some places interviews revealed commune officials are not aware of regulations related to domestic violence prevention and control. Communication on the Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control has targeted women, the primary victims of domestic violence, but has paid little attention to other high-risk groups such as people dependent on alcohol drugs, or gambling and engaged couples. Sanctions against domestic violence are weak at most monitoring points. In most instances police issue warnings, or encourage “reconciliations”, and fail to take timely “preventive” or “protective” measures. Representation and participation in social activities The proportion of women in politics at commune level has increased slightly in the last five years. Most lowland and Kinh communes and district centres now have at least 20% women on commune People’s Councils or at least 15% women on Party Executive Committees, two key targets of the National Strategy for the Advancement of Women 2001- 2010. Most mountainous ethnic minority communes have not yet met these targets. In the 2011-2015 term, the proportion of women members appears set to increase further, although at a slower and more uneven rate (Table 1.8).


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

TABLE 1.8. Proportion of women in commune councils and committees 20072010-2011 (%) Commune

Commune Party Executive Committee

Commune People’s Council

Commune People’s Committee

2007

2010

2011

2007

2010

2011

2007

2010

2011

Thuan Hoa

20

20

20

12

12

21

16

21

23

Ban Lien

7

5

5

7

11

20

7

16

16

Thanh Xuong

7

11

11

11

21

21

7

12

12

Luong Minh

7

13

13

10

13

23

15

29

26

Duc Huong

7

13

13

17

17

4

16

21

21

Xy

11

11

11

7

7

7

20

20

20

Cu Hue

8

24

24

9

9

6

24

24

24

Phuoc Dai

29

33

33

25

25

30

19

21

28

Phuoc Thanh

13

0

0

14

14

14

44

21

33

Thuan Hoa

23

33

33

9

9

21

16

21

22

SOURCE: Statistics provided by Commune Office and Women’s Union, 2007-2011

Ineffective selection and improvement of capacity for women cadres. Grassroots cadres often argue that women lack the education and experience required for leadership positions. In Phuoc Thanh commune-Ninh Thuan, no women participate in the Party Executive Committee. Even the experienced and trusted Chairperson of Phuoc Thanh commune Women’s Union did not finish primary education and, therefore, has not yet been admitted to the Communist Party. Table 1.9 shows the proportion of women aged 18-40 finishing upper secondary school has increased over the last five years. However, most women who meet the educational criteria are young and professional and have yet to be selected and trained for election to the Party Executive Committee or Commune People’s Council.

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TABLE 1.9. Educational qualifications of women aged 18 to 40, 2007-2011 (%) Commune

Never went to school

Not having completed primary school (first level)

2007 2011 2007 2011

Having completed primary school (first level)

Having completed lower secondary school (second level)

Having completed upper secondary school (third level)

High school, college, university

2007

2011

2007

2011

2007

2011

2007 2011

Thuan Hoa

17

8

23

18

34

31

21

20

6

21

0

2

Ban Lien Thanh Xuong

35 9

35 6

34 31

22 19

20 12

24 9

9 29

17 37

2 10

2 22

0 9

0 7

Luong Minh Duc Huong

14 0

23 2

59 0

28 0

16 5

26 12

2 41

15 22

7 45

6 54

2 9

2 10

Xy

59

39

20

24

7

10

13

12

2

14

0

2

Cu Hue

13

11

25

21

34

25

15

21

9

16

4

7

Phuoc Dai

38

25

22

37

23

22

17

14

0

2

0

0

Phuoc Thanh

49

53

24

24

20

16

7

6

0

2

0

0

Thuan Hoa

4

8

42

36

27

24

18

24

7

6

2

2

Average

25

21

28

23

20

20

17

19

9

14

3

3

SOURCE: Household interviews

Persistent gender stereotypes are an important explanation for low proportion of women in authority. At most monitoring points, people still think that it is hard for women to take part in social activities and that men are more effective in leadership positions. The Committee for the Advancement of Women is not effective. The Committee for the Advancement of Women is not operational in seven of the ten communes. In the remaining three communes, the Committee only runs term-end review meetings. Its activities are considered the responsibility of the commune Women’s Union, and are not incorporate in other sectors and branches of local government. Women in local government struggle to make themselves heard. Women deputies often lack the confidence to contribute to government meetings. The Chairperson of the Ban Lien commune Women’s Union, Lao Cai province, said she rarely spoke in the commune Party Executive Committee’s meetings: ‘‘At the meetings, sitting alone with the men, I feel shy. I never raise my hand to speak and never speak for fear of saying the wrong thing. I can do everything I am told, but not speak at meetings”. Women also lack respect because they are minorities in local agencies, and very rarely hold leadership positions. Only one commune (Phuoc Dai, Nghe an) had a woman as Vice Chair of the Commune People’s Committee, and one commune (Thuan Hoa -Tra Vinh) has a women as Chair of the Commune People’s Council and Vice Chair, and only one commune (Thuan Hoa - Tra Vinh) has a woman as member of the Commune Party Executive Committee as Vice Secretary. Activities of Women’s Union Activities of the Women’s Union have seen positive changes in the last five years. At most monitoring points, membership of the Women’s Union is increasing; Women’s


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

Union cadres at commune and village levels are younger and are better educated. The Women’s Union has launched many movements and activities attracting women’s participation. It plays the role of both encouraging and helping women in household economic development and mobilizing them to build happy families. The impact and capacity of the Women’s Union varies (Table 1.10). The Women’s Union is strongest in Cu Hue-Dak Lak and Duc Huong-Ha Tinh. The Women’s Union chairwomen in these two communes are educated and active and often organize activities attracting women’s participation such as innovation competitions. The Women’s Union chairwomen are also very dynamic, coordinating with other agencies such as Education and Health. The heads of the village Women’s Union branches are also devoted to their work although they receive no allowances. Members of the Women’s Union branches are also very active in the Union’s activities. They understand that participation in such activities is beneficial to themselves and their family. Many women, who have time, organize volleyball teams or art troupes. The Women’s Union is average in Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang, Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh, and Phuoc Dai-Ninh Thuan. The capacity of commune and village Women’s Union cadres is good, but participation of women members of Union branches is low. As many women work away from home, are busy during harvesting, or with house chores, Women’s Union activities are not well attended. The Women’s Union is weak in remote areas such as Luong Minh-Nghe An, Xy-Quang Tri, Ban Lien-Lao Cai, and Phuoc Thanh-Ninh Thuan. These communes have difficult economic conditions, the capacity of Women’s Union cadres is limited and local people do not have the time to participate in the activities of mass organizations. As villages are located far from the commune centre it is difficult for the Women’s Union to organize meetings or launch movements. TABLE 1.10. Synthesis of Commune Women’s Union’s activities in surveyed sites Strong Women’s Union

Average Women’s Union

Weak Women’s Union

Commune

Cu Hue-Dak Lak; Duc Huong-Ha Tinh

Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang, Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh, Phuoc Dai-Ninh Thuan

Luong Minh-Nghe An, Xy-Quang Tri, Ban Lien-Lao Cai, Phuoc Thanh-Ninh Thuan

Activities, movements

• Women’s Union Branches organize periodical meetings once every quarter • Women’s Union coordinates with ActionAid Project in communication on gender equality, domestic violence prevention and running a household • Organizes activities on March 8 and October 20, with active participation of women • Established a credit fund for women, implement the movements “5 Nos 3 Cleans”, “Rice Saving Jar”...

• Women’s Union Branches meet once every quarter • Women’s Union integrates activities in ActionAid project but has not yet achieved expected results • Most Women’s Union branches organize artistic, cultural and sport activities on March 8th and October 20 • Some Women’s Union branches have not yet established credit funds

• Some Women’s Union Branches do not organize meetings • Very few Women’s Union activities of (except ActionAid Project sites in Ban Lien-Lao Cai). No activities on March 8 or Oct. 20 • Most Women’s Union branches have not established credit funds. Some places raise fund through “common upland fields” in 20082009 and then did not sustain it.

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Capacity of Women’s Union cadres

• Most commune Women’s Union chairwomen have intermediary and higher level qualifications • Most heads of Union branches finished 12th grade

• Most commune Women’s Union chairwomen have intermediary and higher level qualifications (both regular and on-thejob training) • Most heads of Union branches finished lower secondary school

• Some Women’s Union chairwomen finished primary school. Others are studying complementary school, 12th grade • Some heads of Union branches finished primary school, and some are still illiterate

Participation of Union members

• Active, self-motivated Establishes and launches own movements

• Participate in commune Women’s Union activities, but not very active

• Women are too busy to attend meetings

1.6. Participation and Empowerment Effective poverty reduction requires better participation and empowerment so that each impoverished individual, household, and community can take ownership of their development to make sure it suits their culture and identity. At monitoring points, visible improvements in participation were witnessed in the last five years, although challenges remain. Access to information People have better access to policies, programmes and projects at most monitoring points. Information is delivered through direct channels such as village meetings and mass organizational meetings and activities (mainly organised by the Women’s Union). Other sources of information include audio-visual media such as televisions, radios, and loudspeakers. The proportion of households with access to these channels has increased over the last five years. Paper-based sources such as newspapers, magazines, leaflets, brochures, announcements, and posters are less popular (Table 1.11). TABLE 1.11. Proportion of households having access to information, 2007 - 2011 (%) Commune

TV

LoudNewspaVillage speakers pers, mag- meetings azines

2007 2011 2007 2011 2007 2011 2007 2011

Meetings, activities of mass organizations 2007

Officials’ visits

Leaflets, brochure distribu-ted to HHs

2011 2007 2011 2007

Announcements, posters in village centres or public places

2011

2007

2011

Thuan Hoa

46

80

22

52

10

52

93

100

70

35

16

2

7

41

42

77

Ban Lien

22

73

8

12

13

13

98

93

65

40

18

8

0

12

33

20

Thanh Xuong

47

85

37

52

18

40

88

98

53

82

17

23

3

32

10

7

Luong Minh

42

35

53

15

27

5

90

77

80

50

33

20

30

3

27

43

Duc Huong

50

83

53

72

16

5

84

98

-

95

16

20

3

22

24

64

Xy

45

57

3

7

13

15

95

100

75

57

10

53

2

25

25

18

Cu Hue

57

85

35

77

7

18

75

92

28

72

3

18

3

17

13

25

Phuoc Dai

-

48

-

65

-

3

-

83

-

35

-

23

-

0

-

32

Phuoc Thanh

-

30

-

65

-

8

-

88

-

38

-

37

-

5

-

43

Thuan Hoa

73

82

57

50

3

12

75

57

50

57

38

38

33

18

30

42

Average

48

66

34 46

13

17

87

89

53

56

19

24

10

17

25

37

SOURCE: Household interviews


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

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Information Requirements Information requirements depend strongly on people’s living standards and knowledge. People in lowland and Kinh dominated areas (Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Duc Huong-Ha Tinh, Cu Hue-Dak Lak, and Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh) are more interested in information on employment, agricultural extension, infrastructure policies, laws and local contributions and financial expenditures. Ethnic minorities (Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang, Ban Lien-Lao Cai, Luong Minh-Nghe An, Xy-Quang Tri, Phuoc Dai and Phuoc ThanhNinh Thuan) are more interested in direct support policies such as poverty reviews, concessional loans, assistance in housing construction and seed supplies. Participatory approaches in policies, programmes and projects facilitate the people’s information requirements. People, particularly those in mountainous ethnic minority areas, do not seek out information that is not vital to them, such as local socio-economic development plans, economic restructuring plans, and land use planning. However, participatory approaches tend to stimulate interest. For example, the application of participatory socio-economic development planning at the commune level (such as in Luong Minh-Nghe An, and Xy-Quang Tri) have enhanced people’s interests in general information on local socio-economic development. According to a commune cadre in Luong Minh-Nghe An, “After the Lunar New Year Festival in 2011, the commune conducted communication activities in outlying villages. Many villagers asked about the Policy 30a. They also wanted to know about funding for the construction of the commune headquarters and when the commune moves to another place… In the past, they only asked about what benefited them.” Perception of people on effectiveness of information channels In group discussions, participants discussed the effectiveness of existing information channels according to criteria (Table 1.12). TABLE 1.12. Effectiveness of each information channel Information channels

Frequencies

Village meetings

Once every 1-2 months, extraordinary

5

Daily

Officials’ visits

Loud-speakers

TV

Ranking by criteria11 More information

Large audiences

Advantages, disadvantages

Quick, timely

Meets needs

Twoway exchanges

4

3

5

5

Uses local language for explanation The poor speak up less, and remember the content less

3

4

3

2

1

Number of TV sets increased It’s easier to understand with images. Ethnic minority language TV channel General information, not specific

When it is urgent

3

1

4

4

4

Detailed, specific information Fewer households have access

Not regular

3

4

4

3

2

Number of villages having loudspeaker systems increased Low effectiveness

11. The rating scale for each criterion is 1-5: 5-Very good, 4-Rather good, 3-Average, 2-Poor, 1-Very poor.


Participatory poverty monitoring in rural communities in Viet Nam

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Organizational meetings/ activities

Periodical, depending on each organization

3

2

2

3

4

The poor can easily exchange information in small groups

Newspapers, magazines

Provided free of charge

2

1

1

2

1

Many poor people are illiterate, not interested in small-typed information

Leaflets, brochure distributed to households

Very few, depending on each programme/ project

1

2

1

1

1

Beautifully printed information, can be kept (hung, posted at home) Many poor people are illiterate

Announcements at commune centres, public places

When there is new information

2

1

1

1

1

Not very attractive formats Many poor people are illiterate, very rarely go to commune headquarters

Word of mouth

Regular

2

2

3

2

2

Information is informal, often biased when passed on from one person to another

Group meetings

Periodical, extraordinary

3

3

2

4

5

Small scale, easy to organize The poor feel confident to participate

SOURCE: Men and women group discussions in surveyed sites, 2011

Village meetings are ranked highest for “more information”, “larger audiences”, “meets needs” and “two-way exchanges”. Information provided in village meetings is often related to general community issues, Government policies, and on-going programmes and projects in the village. Other information provided concerns agricultural extension, employment, labour export, laws and health issues. The percentage of household representatives attending village meetings is often between 50 and 60% and in some places 80-90%. In some villages (Ban Lien-Lao Cai, Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, and Luong Minh-Nghe An ) people who do not attend the village meetings are fined. In Ban Lien-Lao Cai, some Tay villages have even elected a “village liaison” officer to invite villagers to meetings. In ethnic minority villages, commune officials often take part in meetings to communicate and explain policies that affect the village. The village head can communicate in local languages, so it is easier for the poor and women to understand. Mass organizational and group meetings are a form of two-way information exchange. Mass organizational meetings are a chance to share information on organizational movements and family advantages and disadvantages. Group meetings are very effective in populated villages or isolated population clusters. The group leader, after receiving information from the village management, shares it with group members. Participants in group meetings often live in the same neighbourhoods and routinely interact with each other, so are very active in discussion and tend not to discriminate between wealthy and poor households. Many poor people feel confident to express their own views and opinions. Television is assessed as an information channel with large audiences. The proportion of households with a TV set is increasing. Ethnic minorities who cannot speak Vietnamese can watch VTV 5, the ethnic minority language channel of Viet Nam Television, or provincial TV channels broadcast in local languages. Information disseminated over TV is very diverse, however, it tends to be quite general and not always relevant to local people.


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

Loudspeakers are an information channel with large audiences and up to date information. At present, two thirds of the 20 surveyed villages have loudspeakers, and eight communes have loudspeaker systems. The advantage of loudspeakers is information can be regularly (daily or 2-3 times a week) delivered in ethnic minority languages. Typical announcements concern the seasonal calendar, prevention and control of natural disasters, pests and epidemics, and village and commune meetings. Officials’ house-to-house visits can give information more rapidly, because information is transmitted directly from the messenger to the receiver, for example direct beneficiaries from programmes, policies or people with special circumstances who are unable to attend village meetings. However, this channel is small-scale. The printed word is not an effective source of information. Newspapers and magazines are still unfamiliar to people at the monitoring points. Those with access to newspapers and magazines are commune and village officials and a few wealthy households. Leaflets and brochures are rarely distributed to people. Many people from ethnic minority groups cannot read the Vietnamese language, and few go to commune centres to read published information. Participation in the implementation of policies, programmes, projects In half of the surveyed communes, ratio of people felt their increased participation in 2011 is bigger than the ratio of people having the same response in 2007. The two main reasons cited are: the “capacity of local officials is higher” and “information on policies is clearer and more specific” (Table 1.13). TABLE 1.13. Perception of households in the implementation of policies, programmes, projects in communes and villages over the past 12 months (%) Commune

Thuan Hoa

Better participation

Reasons for “better participation” over the past 12 months, 2011 (%)

2007

2011

Enhanced capacity of local officials

Clearer and more specific policy informa-tion

Increased interests among villagers

Commune and village levels becoming more active

Supports and monitoring by province and district

Villagers have more opportunities to voice their opinions

Villagers have more opportunities to take part in training, discussions, and monitoring

42

18

18

46

91

0

55

64

0

Ban Lien

18

52

74

68

23

0

74

10

13

Thanh Xuong

45

40

71

33

54

42

13

50

38

Luong Minh

48

10

83

67

67

0

50

17

0

Duc Huong

60

52

57

57

40

37

50

33

3

Xy

7

48

86

66

31

59

48

28

7

Cu Hue

17

23

43

71

79

14

14

36

36

Phuoc Dai

15

13

63

75

13

38

50

25

25

Phuoc Thanh

15

17

40

100

30

10

30

60

10

Thuan Hoa

17

34

90

58

26

42

32

26

16

Average

28

31

67

61

41

29

43

32

15

SOURCE: Household interviews

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People participate more in designing and planning programmes and projects. In 2007 villagers were only invited to meetings to be informed of a programme or project’s implementation. By 2011 local residents were more involved in the design and planning phases. A typical example is the ‘Housing support for the poor’ programme under Decision 167, which provided households with the opportunity to select the design and take part in planning the construction of their own houses. Household beneficiaries under Decision 167, with assistance from relatives and village, spent more on materials and labour in digging foundations, levelling the floor, transporting materials and mixing mortar for the construction of their house. Some provinces (Nghe An, Quang Tri) are applying participatory approaches to improve socio-economic planning and the delivery of demand-driven public services. See Section 8 “Participatory socio-economic development planning and decentralized investments at commune level”. However, people’s participation in the designing and planning phases is still limited for many investment projects. Projects funded by district and province are managed by contractors: local residents, and commune and village cadres have little opportunity to contribute to the design and planning phase. As leaders of the People’s Committee of Luong Minh commune-Nghe An reported on a rural road project in the Settlement and Sedentary Farming Programme in a local village: “The district came to implement the project without informing our commune. After completing it, the contractor told the commune that he had just built a road in Cham Puong”. Community-based monitoring of investments is not effective in many places. When the investor is the commune, community-based monitoring is effective. However, for projects funded at higher levels, with no local contributions of cash or labour, contractors make it difficult for the Community Supervision Board to carry out its monitoring responsibilities. In Cu Hue-Dak Lak contractors undertaking construction projects in the commune in 2009 and 2010, did not inform the Community Supervision Board of the project’s progress. Community Supervision Boards had similar experiences in Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang, Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien and were reported by Fatherland Front cadres in Luong Minh-Nghe An. In some other cases members of the Community Supervision Board lacking an understanding of construction techniques are unable to read construction drawings and are unclear about the division of responsibilities. After five years participation in project management and operation is still limited. Many projects, after construction, do not have regulations regarding participatory management and operation. In others regulations aren’t implemented, adversely affecting the quality and efficiency of the project. On the other hand in some villages with a strong sense of community project management and operation has been implemented well (Box 1.10).


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

BOX 1.10. Project management and operation: advantages and disadvantages Water supply project in Khu Chu Tung 1 village - a favourable case In 2005, the H’Mong people in Khu Chu Tung 1 village, Ban Lien commune (Bac Ha, Lao Cai) were supported by a Programme 135 water supply project. After receving the water system from the contractor, the village elected a three person management team. Members of the team are re-elected annually. Households pay management fees of 5 kg paddy/rice/ household/ year (10 kg since 2011). All households who use the water pay full management fees. The project management team divides the work among its members. Whenever it rains and the water pipeline is blocked, the team members visit, clean and clear it. The team reminds users to use water reasonably and consider the uses of other households. After six years of operation, the water supply project is still operating well. Maintenance of the main road in Cu Hue commune- a difficult case The portion of the main road running through Cu Hue commune (Eakar, Dak Lak), funded by the province, was completed in 2009. In late 2010, local authorities and households living along the road joined forces to repair it. By September 2011, the repairs was completed. The road can only bear 10 tons, but many lorries of more than 15 or even 40 tons use it, causing significant damage. The Dong Tam village Management Board has fined some lorries about 200 - 300,000 VND but large lorries continue to use the road. Residents are very concerned but do not know who to report the problem to.

For community-initiated small construction projects, local residents show their good ownership through their self-motivated and active participation in the whole project implementation process. In the last five years, at the monitoring points, there have been many community initiatives, contributed and implemented by local people themselves, for example the community house project in Minh Phong village (Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang) in 2008, the concrete road built by the inter-family group No. 6 in Huong Tho village (Duc Huong-Ha Tinh) in 2009, the Cultural House in Chan Nuoi 2 Village (Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien) in 2010, bridge spanning the stream in Chan Puong village (Luong Minh-Nghe An) in 2011... With community initiatives, people participate very actively in designing, planning, contribution of cash and labour, locally available materials, project monitoring and supervision and operation and maintenance. Active participation helps these projects have high quality, showing the common intelligence and strength of the community. Role of community institutions in enhancing people’s participation Community institutions play an active role enhancing people’s participation in programmes and projects. In the last five years, some community institutions have been maintained and developed effectively; but others are fading away and reducing their role in community life. Village heads Village heads play the most important role in promoting villagers’ participation. Village heads organize people’s participation in village activities. They play different roles, such as the head of the reconciliation team, member of the Fatherland Front and

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Participatory poverty monitoring in rural communities in Viet Nam

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head of the credit groups. They also serve as a focal point, providing feedback to the commune and welcoming visitors. In mountainous ethnic minority communes, village heads are also heads of some mass organizations. Most village heads feel they have a very heavy work load, and are sometimes forced to neglect household chores. Allowances for village heads are low. Allowances for village heads at most monitoring points increased in early 2011 and range between 60% and 100% of the minimum wage (830,000 VND per month in late 2011) depending on the province. Allowances only cover travel and communication costs. Many people do not want to take the position of village head because allowances are too low. Village heads have had little opportunity to participate in comprehensive training, so have limited understanding of relevant policies. Most have completed lower or upper secondary school, although some did not complete primary school. In mountainous ethnic minority areas (Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang, Ban Lien-Lao Cai, Luong MinhNghe An, Xy-Quang Tri, Phuoc Dai and Phuoc Thanh-Ninh Thuan), village heads have only a limited knowledge and understanding of regulations and policies. Statistics, records and data are not kept systematically by village heads. Most village heads expressed a desire to attend more comprehensive training on policies, and management skills so as to better fulfil their roles. However, there are few advanced training courses on professional skills for village heads. This is a vital issue if village heads are to increase people’s participation and empowerment. Village patriarchs Village patriarchs play an important role in mobilizing villagers. At present, “village patriarchs” are either “traditional” and elected according long-standing community practices or “modern”, a result of recent Government policy12. An important requirement is to understand traditional customs, traditions and rituals. Therefore, village patriarchs tend to be elderly people. In some villages, as custom and tradition plays a diminishing role village “traditional patriarchs” have become less important. For modern village patriarchs, age is not considered the most important criterion. Some are young but trusted and elected by villagers (such as the one in Doi 1 village, Ban Lien-Lao Cai who is just 37 years old). The role of village patriarchs is mostly to assist the Village Management Board communicate and mobilize people to implement Government policies and local guidelines, and resolve conflicts in the village. Farmers’ groups with community functions Groups with community functions are highly sustainable in the last five years, as they stem from direct interests of local residents, help maintain community functions which are really needed by the people, and operates on voluntary basis and consensus of members, not dependent on external financial support. In fact, in surveyed sites, there are many farmers’ groups with community functions such as Community Forest Protection Group, Construction Board, Water Project Management, Community Development Club, Inter-Family Group etc. which are operational very well. These forms of informal community cooperation may promote the participation and empowerment of villagers in the implementation of policies, programmes, and projects as appropriate to local customs, practices, and socio-economic conditions. The development of operational regulations which are clear and binding responsibilities among members also help the groups to operate more effectively.

12 According to Instruction 06/2008/CT-TTg dated 1 February 2008 of the Prime Minister on promoting the roles of the respectful people in ethnic minority areas. Each village can elect one “respectful person” (so called “patriarch”).


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

A good example of effective farmers’ groups at the monitoring points in the last five years is the Inter-family Group in Duc Huong commune-Ha Tinh. This is a form of groups very successful in increasing people’s participation in community activities. Households join the inter-family group voluntarily, the group has its regulation and sanctions against violations. Normally, the inter-family group meets once every month or every two months to discuss related activities (Box 1.11).

BOX 1.11. Inter-family groups are increasingly sustainable and effective In 2005 the Ha Tinh Centre for Community Development - HCCD in coordination with Vu Quang District People’s Committee organized a study tour of the inter-family group model in Ky Anh district for members of four project communes. Following the study tour, Vu Quang District People’s Committee assigned the District Police the task to develop a plan for the establishment of inter-family groups in communes. Inter-family groups were officially established in Vu Quang in 2006. At first the functions of the inter-family groups were to ensure social order and security, maintain the spirit of solidarity and good village relations. Over time the group has taken on other functions such as: contributing labour to build small village infrastructure facilities, cleaning up the village, encouraging children in their study, selecting households to receive relief aid, participating in reviewing the list of poor households and helping households in difficult circumstances. By the end of 2011, there were fifty inter-family groups in Duc Huong commune. Reasons for successful Inter-family groups which help increase people’s participation include: • • • • • • •

Inter-family group meetings can be held quickly and in a very flexible way. The meetings are held in the evening at a member’s house. Each group member is expected to host a meeting. Both husbands and wives attend meetings, helping to improve gender equality. In fact, 60% of women are heads of Inter-family groups and most deputy heads are women. Issues discussed in inter-family groups are relevant to local residents, improving the quality of their participation. The poor have the opportunities to participate more, and feel confident to speak as inter-family groups are small - only 7-25 members. Activities of inter-family group help reduce the work load of village cadres. The heads or deputy heads of inter-family groups attend monthly meetings of the commune Fatherland Front, ensuring people’s voices are heard. With support from HCCD to build rotating funds and production models, communication activities through inter-family groups attract local residents. Inter-family groups are in close coordination with Community Learning Centres, Village Community Development Committees, interest groups, and clubs.

Community Learning Centres Community Learning Centres have been established in communes under Decision 09/2008/QĐ-BGDĐT13 to improve opportunities for people to access continuing education (from literacy, continuing education, to legal communication and training 13 Community Learning Centres in communes, wards and district towns are stipulated in Paragraph 1 Article 46 of the Law on Education and Decision No. 09/2008/QĐ-BGDĐT dated 24/03/2008 of the Minister of Education and Training on issuance of Regulation of organization and activities of the centers in communes, wards and district towns.

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on agricultural extension). A Community Learning Centre has a director (often a commune vice chairperson in charge of cultural-social affairs) and 1-2 deputy directors (teachers or full time officers). Community Learning Centres are operational under the management of the commune People’s Committee, and professional guidance from the District Education and Training Division. At the monitoring points, some Community Learning Centres have made some improvements in their activities in the last five years. According to assessments in 2007, Community Learning Centres at the monitoring points operated ineffectively and in a formalistic way due to lack of funding, poor facilities and no specific plans of action. But in the 2008-2011 period, in some areas implementing Reflect Project - Literacy and community development funded by ActionAid (in Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang, Thanh XuongDien Bien, Duc Huong-Ha Tinh, Cu Hue-Dak Lak and Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh), Community Learning Centres are linked to Community Development Clubs with an aim to increasing the role and activities of Community Learning Centres, while enhancing the possibility of sustaining clubs. At present, these Community Learning Centres play the focal point role in collecting learning needs from community/clubs to be incorporated in their plans of action, or transferred to relevant agencies (such as agricultural extension, health, education...). Activities of Community Learning Centres considered effective include: organization of trainings on livestock breeding, cultivation, gender equality, HIV/AIDS prevention; support to members of clubs and interest groups to access revolving funds from Micro Credit Funds. In addition to the Community Learning Centres mentioned above, activities of the remaining Community Learning Centres at the monitoring points (Ban Lien-Lao Cai, Luong Minh-Nghe An, Xy-Quang Tri, Phuoc Dai and Phuoc Thanh-Ninh Thuan) in the last five years are in general rather weak, just stopping at some activities such as communication and dissemination of knowledge. Current biggest difficulties and challenges to effective activities of Community Learning Centres include: • Lack of proper care and direction from local Party committees and authorities. • Activities of Community Learning Centres are not yet incorporated in the commune plans of activities. Therefore, in the annual socio-economic development planning and budgeting, most of the communes have not yet paid attention to planning activities for Community Learning Centres and including them in the corresponding budget lines, thus fund is not allocated to activities of these centres14. • Community Learning Centres are currently not considered a focal point in implementing related local communication, training and livelihoods support activities. Functional agencies and projects continue to carry out activities on their own channels, without coordination with Community Learning Centres. Legal Aid In the last five years, legal aid has been implemented in surveyed sites through various channels (by the commune judicial committee) and Programmes 135 and 30a15. People’s needs for legal aid often concentrate on areas like land, marriage and family, prevention of domestic violence and adoption of children...

14 Under Circular 96/2008/TT-BTC dated 27/10/2008, Community Learning Centres are provided once with VND30 million at inception. Centers established in ethnic minority and mountainous communes receive VND20 million/year for Category I communes and VND25 million/year for Category II and III communes. 15 Decision No. 112/2007/QĐ-TTg dated 20 July 2007 and Decision No. 52/2010/QĐ-TTg dated 18 August 2010 of the Prime Minister


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 1: Poverty Trends and Key Themes of Rural Poverty Reduction

Forms of legal aid are rather diverse. Most of the communes integrated legal communication and dissemination in village meetings or organizational meetings. Some communes have conducted mobile legal communication sessions and provided direct legal aid to local residents in villages. In Cu Hue, Dak Lak, the justice sector has had many forms of legal communication such as news bulletin, brochures, coordination with information points (funded by DANIDA Administrative Reforms Project, implemented by ActionAid and local partners) to answer questions about administrative procedures to local residents. In addition, the district Judicial Section, in coordination with the Farmers’ Union, organized advanced training on legal knowledge to commune clusters. The effectiveness of legal aid is limited. Most of the people are not really interested in and proposed their needs for legal aid. The form of legal communication is not lively, mostly through reading legal documents by local cadres, no visual aid and almost no illustrative cases. Most local resident interviewed did not have good understanding of legal information after attending communication sessions. The village heads have limited legal knowledge, so their presentations at village meetings are often not comprehensive. There is a “legal bookshelf” at the office of the People’s Committee, but it is not regularly used by village heads because of their limited educational background and because they are generally busy and live far from the People’s Committee office. Mountainous communes are large and scattered; commune cadres only receive a very low level of allowances to conduct mobile communication. In Luong Minh commune (Nghe An), the commune legal aid and communication committee received an aid package of 200,000500,000 VND/legal communication session in all villages; meanwhile some villages are an hour motorbike drive away from the commune centre; therefore, the plan is a legal communication session is given to a village per a quarter, but in fact only a session a year was held. The legal aid clubs are not established. According to regulations of Programme 135, each commune receives 2 million dong per year to establish one legal aid club and organise mobile legal communication sessions. In reality no commune at the monitoring points established the legal aid clubs. The cited reasons are inadequate budget, difficulties in mobilising local cadres and people, lacking detailed instructions from functional agencies and commitment of commune leaders for establishment and sustained operation of the clubs.

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Part 2 Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam Changes at the monitoring points in the past five years suggest key challenges to rural poverty reduction in Viet Nam. •

The multi-dimensional nature of poverty. Multi-dimensional poverty analysis will help policy makers develop more effective policies specific to different groups.

As Viet Nam becomes a low middle income country, designing effective social security systems becomes increasingly important.

Coping with inflation and price volatility.

Labour mobility in Viet Nam is increasing, helping create more diversified livelihood strategies.

Demand-driven agricultural extension services play an increasingly important role in improving effective and sustainable livelihoods in rural areas.

Education for children to improve the quality of human resources is of decisive significance to sustainable rural poverty reduction in the future.

Participatory planning and decentralized financing at the commune level would improve public services that support poverty reduction policies.

Extension

Labour mobility

Quality of human resources

Sustainable livelihoods

Education

Multi-dimensional poverty

Investment efficiency, public services

C-SEDP and CDF

Risk management

Price volatility Vulnerability reduction

Social security

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2. MULTI-DIMENSIONAL POVERTY ANALYSIS Multi-dimensional poverty is not only related to income or expenditure. Multi-dimensional analysis will help policy makers identify target groups and develop policies relevant to them. 2.1. Multi-dimensional poverty measurements in the world and in Viet Nam Multi-dimensional poverty measurements are being adopted worldwide. The UNDP Human Development Report 2010 used the “Multi-dimensional poverty Index” (MPI). The MPI is based on three dimensions of poverty: education, health and living standards, and includes ten sub-indicators associated with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)16. The indicator of each dimension has the same weight, and each dimension is also attributed the same weight (Figure 2.1). As of 2011, the MPI has been used in 109 countries17.

FIGURE 2.1. Indicators of the Multidimensional Poverty Index MPI

In 2008, the General Statistics Office (GSO) calculated multidimensional children poverty indicators based on data from VHLSS18. In 2009, UNDP funded the Project “Support to in-depth urban poverty survey in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City” (UPS-2009). The Project applied a multi-dimensional poverty measurement approach using eight indicators: income, education, health, access to social security, housing quality and space, housing services, participation in social activities and social security19. 2.2. Multi-dimensional nature of rural poverty at monitoring points Multi-dimensional analysis of rural poverty is conducted at the monitoring points in the following way: 1. Examine multi-dimensional poverty indicators as perceived by local residents and cadres in ten surveyed communes. For each indicator, identify a “cut-off point”. Those under this point are regarded by local residents and officials as “poor” (Table 2.1). 2. Develop a table on poverty dimensions and poverty indicators for each dimension using data from the interview sample of 600 households in ten surveyed communes (Table 2.2). 3. Calculate data for each poverty dimension from 2007 to 2011. Poverty dimensions have the same weights. 16 UNDP, Human Development Report 2010 “Real Wealth of Nations: Road to Human Development “, second edition Nov. 2010. MPI Index was developed by OPHI and UNDP Human Development Report Agency based on Alkire and Foster approach (http://www.ophi.org.uk/research/multidimensional-poverty/). 17 http://www.ophi.org.uk/policy/multidimensional-poverty-index/mpi-data-methodology/ 18 GSO, “Results of Household Living Standard Survey 2008”, Statistics Publishing House, Hanoi, 2010 19 UNDP, “Urban Poverty Assessment in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City”, 2010


Voices, selfconfidence, participation

Number of dependents Application of improved techniques Hiring labour, using machines, tools Food

Investment in intensive farming Crop yield

Application of improved techniques

Awareness, ways of doing business

SOURCE: Group discussions of cadres and residents, 2011

Capital

Participation

Risks

Access to markets

Livelihood/ Employment

Intensive farming

Labour

Health Awareness, ways of doing business

Education

Education of children

Cattle Housing Durable assets

Cattle Housing, Durable assets Living conditions

Assets

Education of children Health

Land acreage

Land acreage

Land

Living conditions

Ban Lien-Lao Cai

Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang

Groups of criteria

Efficient use of capital

Buying and selling methods

Crop yield

Number of dependents Application of improved techniques

Health Awareness, ways of doing business

Education of children

Education of household heads

Cattle Housing Durable assets Living conditions

Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien

Efficient use of capital

Income sources wages

Investment in intensive farming

Application of improved techniques Machinery, production tools

Health Awareness, ways of doing business

Education of household heads

Living conditions

Duc Huong-Ha Tinh

Efficient use of capital

Income sources wages

Application of improved techniques

Labour

Health Awareness, ways of doing business

Education of household heads

Luong MinhNghe An

Occupations, income

Farming practice

Labour

Housing Durable assets

Xy-Quang Tri

Buying and selling methods

Investment in intensive farming

Application of improved techniques Hiring services, hiring labour

Awareness, ways of doing business

Education of children

Education of household heads

Land acreage Quality of land Cattle Housing Durable assets Living conditions

Cu Hue-Dak Lak

TABLE 2.1. Multi-dimensional poverty indicators in communes as felt by local residents and grassroots officials

Efficient use of capital

Voices, selfconfidence

Risk coping capacities

Application of improved techniques Hiring labour, using machines, tools Investment in intensive farming Crop yield Diversified income, employment

Health Awareness, ways of doing business

Living conditions Education of household heads

Cattle

Phuoc Dai, Phuoc ThanhNinh Thuan

65

Loans

Risks (sickness, epidemics, diseases) Voices, selfconfidence

Occupations, income

Hiring services, hire labour, using machines Investment in intensive farming

Awareness, ways of doing business Number of dependents

Education of children

Education of household heads

Housing Durable assets Living conditions

Shortage of land Quality of land

Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh


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4. Calculate head count index (H) according to the dimensions (K). 5. Analyse variations for each poverty dimension between 2007 and 2011 combining data collected from questionnaires and qualitative information collected from fieldwork. TABLE 2.2. Poverty dimensions and specific criteria used in this report

Poverty dimensions

Specific indicators

1. Income

Households listed as “poor” according to Government income poverty line in the 2006-2010 period in rural areas (average income is less than VND 200,000/person/ month)

2. Assets

Households living in temporary houses, or Households with no motorbikes and cattle

3. Living conditions

Households not using electricity as main lighting source, or Households using water from ponds, lakes, rivers, streams as main domestic water sources, or Households with no latrines or temporary latrines

4. Children’s education

Households with children aged 6 to15 not going to school

5. Health

Households suffering illnesses and hospitalized in the last 12 months and who lack access to satisfactory health services

6. Food security

Households with regular food shortages (one month or more) in the last 12 months

7. Agricultural employment

Households whose only source of employment is farming (no non-agricultural livelihood sources)

8. Access to markets

Households selling no products in the last 12 months, or

9. Access to information

Households with no TV sets and no telephone

10. Risk management

Households facing risks that greatly affect their lives in the last 12 months

Households buying no agricultural materials in the last 12 months

Note:

• •

• •

Poverty indicators and the “cut-off point” for each indicator is based on the results of group discussions with local residents and officials in ten surveyed communes. Due to the data limitation of household questionnaires in the 2007-2011 period in ten surveyed communes, illustrative data on multi-dimensional poverty used in this report do not cover important poverty dimensions and indicators (such as malnourished children, healthcare services are not affordable, social relations, gender equality, participation and empowerment...), nor present “quality” aspects of poverty criteria (such as: education quality, quality of assets, livelihood quality ...). Data from the results of survey of repeated random sample of 600 selected households in 20 villages in ten surveyed communes in 2007 and in 2011. As for the proportion of “poor households” taken from the statistics of 2007 and 2010 (because in 2011 the Government revised the poverty line, thus unable to compare it with 2007). Data from the questionnaires filled by 600 households are only used for illustration (the selection of sample of households in the village is on a random basis, but the selection of sample of villages and commune is purposeful


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

General picture of multi-dimensional rural poverty at monitoring points in the last five years People’s living standards at the monitoring points have improved in the last five years (Figure 2.2) Education, assets, food security and access to information have improved the most since 2007. Assets (housing, motorbikes, and cattle) and access to information (TV, telephone) have seen the biggest improvements in the last five years. Living conditions (electricity, safe water, latrines), agricultural employment, access to market (selling products and buying agricultural materials) and managing risks have improved the least. FIGURE 2.2. Percent of shortage by dimensions of poverty at the monitoring points, 2007-2011 (%)

SOURCE: Household interview, 2007-2011

Table 2.3 shows rural residents are in households suffer in the most dimensions. Ethnic minority groups suffer in more dimensions than the majority Kinh. According to Table 2.3, 18% of Kinh households , 41% of Kh’mer, Tay, Thai and Ede households and 63% of Van Kieu, Raglai, Kh’Mu, and H’Mong households suffer in least four dimensions.

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TABLE 2.3. Head count index (H) by dimensions (k), 2011

Head count index (H)

k=1

k=2

k=3

k=4

k=5

k=6

k=7

K=8

k=9

k=10

General index

0.99

0.93

0.72

0.45

0.25

0.09

0.04

0.01

0.00

0.00

Kinh

1.00

0.79

0.45

0.18

0.05

0.01

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Kh’mer, Tay, Thai, Ede, Nung

0.99

0.96

0.73

0.41

0.24

0.07

0.05

0.01

0.00

0.00

Van Kieu, Raglai, Kh’Mu, H’Mong

1.00

0.98

0.86

0.64

0.37

0.14

0.07

0.01

0.00

0.00

Of which:

SOURCE: Household interviews

Income Income poverty has fallen, but remains uneven. Table 2.4 shows that in communes with cash-commodity production and diverse income sources (Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Cu Hue-Dak Lak, Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh, Xy-Quang Tri and Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang) poverty declined 4-5% a year on average. In some ethnic minority communes and remote and disaster-prone areas, the poverty rate declined at 2% a year. After the Government raised the poverty line in 2010 the percentage of poor households in most surveyed sites increased to over 70% in remote mountainous ethnic minority communes (Ban Lien-Lao Cai, Luong Minh-Nghe An, Phuoc Thanh-Ninh Thuan and XyQuang Tri). In 2011 the percentage of poor households according to the new poverty line declined. TABLE 2.4. Proportion of poor households in 2005 - 2011 at monitoring points (%) Commune

Main ethnic groups

According to old poverty line

According to new poverty line

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Thuan Hoa

Tay, H’Mong

78.7

69.5

58.3

42.8

35.0

62.0

56.4

Ban Lien

Tay, H’Mong

65.9

61.0

60.7

59.9

54.5

82.7

63.0

Kinh, Thai

33.9

22.8

14.7

11.2

8.2

11.7

7.5

Luong Minh

Thai, Kh’Mu

77.4

74.7

72.5

78.7

83.6

94.0

85.3

Duc Huong

Kinh

39.6

39.6

31.6

40.6

28.4

52.5

43.3

Xy

Van Kieu

81.5

71.1

54.0

49.8

42.2

73.5

72.1

Cu Hue

Ede, Kinh

28.1

24.7

16.8

11.9

8.7

15.4

11.4

Phuoc Dai

Raglai

68.8

51.7

44.2

58.4

58.2

64.2

57.8

Phuoc Thanh

Raglai

74.3

69.2

58.1

56.5

52.8

77.2

70.9

Kh’mer, Kinh

41.1

32.7

37.2

33.9

28.5

32.7

26.7

Thanh Xuong

Thuan Hoa

SOURCE: Statistics of annual review of poor households provided by communes


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

Possession of family assets

69

Shortages in basic family assets fell strongly. Table 2.5 shows that the percentage of households living in non-solid and temporary houses20, with no motorbikes or cattle fell in the last five years. The quality of housing for poor households in mountainous areas improved, benefitting from the Temporary Housing Elimination Programmes under Decision 134, and 167. Concessional loans from the Social Policy Bank are used by poor households in mountainous ethnic minority areas to buy cattle. In some lowland areas (Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Cu Hue-Dak Lak, and Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh) where mechanized services are popular, the percentage of households with no cattle is high, although in these areas not owning cattle does not reflect poverty. People tended to buy motorbikes following improvements in local roads. However, in general, the assets of poor households tend to be of low quality. TABLE 2.5. Shortage of assets of households, 2007-2011 Commune

Temporary houses(%)

No cattle (%)

No motorbikes(%)

2007

2011

2007

2011

2007

2011

Thuan Hoa

24

10

5

8

64

20

Ban Lien

6

2

9

4

72

19

Thanh Xuong

17

0

81

69

28

13

Luong Minh

61

55

52

39

89

71

Duc Huong

8

0

10

14

55

31

Xy

67

28

42

35

63

26

Cu Hue

4

2

75

67

22

7

Phuoc Dai

16

0

11

7

53

47

Phuoc Thanh

24

0

31

20

87

43

Thuan Hoa

55

17

67

71

53

36

Average

29

12

39

34

59

31

SOURCE: Household interviews

Some poor households built new houses and purchased assets they could not realistically afford. In many cases, poor households who received financial support to build houses under Decision 167 became over indebted.

Living conditions Living conditions remain poor at most monitoring points. Many households lack latrines or own only temporary latrines. Few households use composting and or semi-composting latrines (Table 2.6). The Government issued a support policy to help households build latrines (VND 1 million /household concessional 20 According to the guideline of the household survey procedures introduced by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) review of poor households, “simple houses” are houses having three main structures (bamboo pillars, roof and walls) made of non-durable materials; “non-solid houses” are houses having only one of the three main structures made of durable materials.


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loans from the Social Policy Bank) under the National Target Programme on Rural Safe Water and Sanitation, linked with the Programme on building new rural areas21. Many residents do not understand the importance of sanitation. As a result improving environmental sanitation in rural areas is an urgent issue, involves behaviour change and requires the participation of commune health stations and the primary healthcare network. The support programme for the construction of latrines should be revised to focus on empowering residents and training village masons to build latrines which meet standards at low cost. It should also increase funding for communication and training and specifically target women and children, the key beneficiaries. TABLE 2.6. Shortages in living conditions, 2007-2011 Commune

Non-use of electricity (%)

Use of unsafe water (%)

No latrines or temporary latrines (%)

2007

2011

2007

2011

2007

2011

Thuan Hoa

15

10

46

40

100

92

Ban Lien

43

2

54

39

98

98

Thanh Xuong

0

0

89

65

72

70

Luong Minh

41

29

5

27

100

100

Duc Huong

0

0

71

53

53

53

Xy

7

2

26

28

100

96

Cu Hue

6

0

96

89

76

69

Phuoc Dai

11

2

51

22

87

89

Phuoc Thanh

20

6

85

63

100

94

Thuan Hoa

5

0

3

0

82

62

Average

15

5

52

42

87

83

SOURCE: Household interviews

The percentage of households using unsafe water for drinking and cooking remains relatively high. At some monitoring points, a high proportion of surveyed households use water from ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, canals and mountain creeks for drinking and cooking (Table 2.6). There have been substantial investments in centralized tap water facilities. However, mountainous topography, adverse weather conditions and poor maintenance and management mean many people still do not have access to safe water. In many mountainous ethnic communities, the quality of water is poor, due to the fact that people living upstream pollute the water supply with solid waste and cattle dung. The policy promoting the “Participatory Irrigation Management” (PIM) model has so far been ineffective at the monitoring points. Many households now have access to electricity at most monitoring points. More households are now connected to the national grid and no longer rely on small hydroelectric generators as in the past, especially in Ban Lien-Lao Cai. Many residents have bought TV sets, pumping machines, and tea drying and crushing machines. Access to electricity and lighting has also facilitated children’s study, village meetings and other 21 Under Decision 800/QĐ-TTg dated June 4, 2010 approving the National Target Programme on building new rural areas 2010 - 2020, the goal “supply enough safe water to residents, schools, health stations, offices and public service areas” is numbered 17 in the national new rural criteria.


Five-year Synthesis Report

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business activities.

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Education

More children are going to school at most monitoring points. However, the percentage of children aged 6 to 15 who do not go to school remains high in some mountainous ethnic minority communes with specific difficulties such as Ban Lien-Lao Cai, Phuoc Dai and Phuoc Thanh-Ninh Thuan. See Section 6 “Improvement of access to education service”. Difficulties with the Vietnamese language remains a problem for some adults. Illiteracy limits access to useful information and knowledge of science and technology. In mountainous ethnic minority communes women are more likely to be illiterate than men, limiting their ability to participate in the family and wider society (Table 2.7). TABLE 2.7. Vietnamese language skills of the respondents, 2011 (%) Commune

Speaking and listening

Reading

Writing

Males

Females

Males

Females

Males

Females

Thuan Hoa

100

100

88

74

83

26

Ban Lien

100

91

77

55

74

45

Thanh Xuong

95

100

95

85

100

85

Luong Minh

100

90

69

65

67

65

Duc Huong

100

100

100

100

100

100

Xy

70

54

55

38

77

23

Cu Hue

100

100

96

81

96

78

Phuoc Dai

100

100

72

60

76

60

Phuoc Thanh

97

100

51

32

54

32

Thuan Hoa

100

100

76

73

76

64

Average

95

96

75

71

78

64

SOURCE: Household interviews

Health Healthcare has improved in the last five years. There were fewer reported epidemics and diseases. The incidence of Malaria, in particular, has fallen in many mountainous communes. In most surveyed sites, there are medical doctors at commune health stations. Since 2009 in specially disadvantaged communes such as Ban Lien-Lao Cai, Luong Minh-Nghe An, Phuoc Dai and Phuoc Thanh-Ninh Thuan, since 2009 medical doctors have been dispatched under the Ministry of Health’s Project 1816. The Village Healthcare Network and population collaborators now cover all villages and in some places there are even nutrition advisors. An increasing proportion of women give birth in commune health stations and have gynaecological and pre-natal check-ups. Many people in ethnic minority areas, who traditionally made ceremonial offerings in order to treat disease now use local health facilities. Table 2.8 shows the percentage of households with members hospitalized in 2011 was lower than in 2007. Fewer respondents find healthcare services “unsatisfactory”, mainly because ethnic minorities in difficult circumstances receive free medical insurance cards. Primary healthcare at grassroots level has also been improved.


Participatory poverty monitoring in rural communities in Viet Nam

TABLE 2.8. Access to and perception of healthcare services, 2007-2011

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Commune

Illnesses leading to check ups and treatments at health facilities (%)

Perception of healthcare services as “unsatisfactory� (%)

2007

2011

2007

2011

Thuan Hoa

71

70

29

2

Ban Lien

70

65

3

6

Thanh Xuong

63

69

18

14

Luong Minh

51

45

20

0

Duc Huong

92

92

47

18

Xy

84

88

0

2

Cu Hue

58

67

29

14

Phuoc Dai

93

67

5

0

Phuoc Thanh

98

63

9

6

Thuan Hoa

81

71

4

0

Average

76

69

16

6

SOURCE: Household interviews

In lowland communes such as Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Duc Huong-Ha Tinh and Cu Hue-Dak Lak, the percentage of people who feel healthcare services are unsatisfactory remains high. As many people in these communes also use district and province health services their standards are higher. Typical issues are the attitudes of doctors when people use medical insurance cards, overcrowding in hospitals, and the range and quality of medicines available with medical insurance. The malnutrition rate among children under five has fallen, but remains high in some specially disadvantaged communes, such as Ban Lien-Lao Cai, Xy-Quang Tri, Phuoc Dai and Phuoc Thanh-Ninh Thuan (Table 2.9). In the surveyed sites people lack fresh food and vegetables. A month after giving birth many mothers leave their baby at home and return to upland farming. Babies are therefore weaned early. TABLE 2.9. Percent of malnourished children under 5 years old, 2007-2011 Commune

Percent of malnourished children under 5 (%) 2007 25 50 19

2011 22 39 17

Luong Minh

32

19

Duc Huong

19

16

Xy

57

50

Cu Hue

20

12

Phuoc Dai Phuoc Thanh Thuan Hoa

53 41 21

36 33 18

Thuan Hoa Ban Lien Thanh Xuong

SOURCE: Statistics of malnourished children are provided by commune health stations


Five-year Synthesis Report

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Food security Food security improved at most monitoring points. Where livelihoods involved wet rice farming, commodity production, waged labour or migratory employment, few people faced food shortages (such as Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang, Ban Lien-Lao Cai, Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Xy-Quang Tri, Cu Hue-Dak Lak, Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh). In some remote areas dependent on unstable upland hill-side farming with frequent poor weather such as Luong Minh-Nghe An the proportion of households facing food shortages increased (Table 2.10). TABLE 2.10. Regular food shortages, 2007-2011 Commune

Percent of households facing regular food shortages (%)

Number of months of regular food shortage (among people suffering food shortage)

2007

2011

2007

2011

Thuan Hoa

5

0

2.7

0

Ban Lien

11

9

3.3

2.0

Thanh Xuong

28

7

2.9

5.0

Luong Minh

49

73

5.0

6.1

Duc Huong

-

5

-

4.0

Xy

35

2

3.8

1.5

Cu Hue

4

0

3.5

0

Phuoc Dai

-

33

-

4.8

Phuoc Thanh

-

35

-

3.9

Thuan Hoa

5

0

5.0

0

Average

23

16

3.3

4.9

SOURCE: Household interviews

Some people are always short of food particularly the vulnerable (disabled, long term sick, elderly living alone and single mothers) who also lack productive land or live in disaster-prone areas. For this reason, the percentage of households in regular food shortage reduces sharply but the number of months of regular food shortage (of the remaining households in “poverty cores�) increased at some monitoring points. Agricultural employment The percentage of households relying on agriculture declined slightly, but remains high. Agriculture-based employment (with no alternative income sources) is an important poverty indicator as felt by local residents at the surveyed sites. Table 2.11 shows the percentage of agriculture-based households in the survey sample declined slightly in the last five years. In many remote mountainous areas (Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang, Ban Lien-Lao Cai, and Luong Minh-Nghe An), the percentage of agriculture-based employment in 2011 was high, over 30%.

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TABLE 2.11. Percent of households without non-agricultural income sources, 2007-2011 (%) Commune Thuan Hoa

2007 56

2011 33

Ban Lien

67

67

Thanh Xuong

15

19

Luong Minh

54

38

Duc Huong

35

28

Xy

37

30

Cu Hue

29

46

Phuoc Dai Phuoc Thanh Thuan Hoa

22 28 12

24 28 7

Average

36

32

SOURCE: Household interviews

None of the twenty surveyed villages is strong in food processing, small industry or handicrafts. Some activities such as forging metal, embroidery and weaving are only for self-consumption. Non-agricultural income is mainly from wages, allowances, casual jobs and migrant work (see Section 5 “Labour mobility and gender impacts “). Farming and the rural economy has been slow to restructure in mountainous areas. For households engaged primarily in agriculture the chosen farming model, scale of production, level of investment in intensive farming and application of improved techniques determines the income gap between households. Most residents in remote mountainous sites are still dependent on upland, hill side farming, which produces only one crop a year and is subject to significant risk. “Crop rotation”, “inter-cropping”, and “crop expansion” are techniques used by ethnic minorities to diversify incomes and manage risk. However, increasing pressure on the land has reduced the length of time land is left fallow. In delta communes such as Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Cu Hue-Dak Lak and Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh, people have better land, capital, market information and risk coping capacities. Many combine rice, maize, vegetables, subsidiary crops and shortterm and long-term industrial crops. Investments in intensive farming have increased the number of crops to 2-3 a year.

Access to markets Access to markets has improved, but differences remain between surveyed sites. The proportion of households who sell no products and buy no agricultural materials has declined slightly in the last five years (Table 2.12).


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

TABLE 2.12. Percent of households selling no products and buying no materials, 2007-2011 Commune

Selling no products in the last 12 months (%)

Buying no agricultural materials in the last 12 months (%)

2007

2011

2007

2011

Thuan Hoa

42

17

10

2

Ban Lien

9

26

20

17

Thanh Xuong

48

7

17

0

Luong Minh

96

89

93

89

Duc Huong

22

8

10

8

Xy

26

9

98

98

Cu Hue

7

15

7

20

Phuoc Dai

51

33

56

58

Phuoc Thanh

44

43

85

89

Thuan Hoa

52

48

50

41

Average

40

30

45

42

SOURCE: Household interviews

Improvements in infrastructure, information and communication has improved market access for many people. New markets in Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang (2008), Ban Lien-Lao Cai (2008) and along the road from Ky Son district through Cham Puong, Luong Minh-Nghe An (2010) has provided people with the opportunity to buy and sell produce. However, local residents in remote mountainous ethnic minority areas participate less in the market than Kinh in lowland areas, as they still rely on traditional upland farming for domestic consumption and do not use commercial supplies. In Luong Minh-Nghe An and Phuoc Thanh-Ninh Thuan, the proportion of people with access to markets is the lowest, and poverty incidence the highest. The capacity to engage in market transactions with few intermediaries leads to increased incomes. In lowland communes, with favourable transport roads, people have more choices for selling agricultural produce or purchasing agricultural supplies. In Cu Hue-Dak Lak, people can sell agricultural produce (hybrid corn, coffee and pepper) directly to agents or traders. They can also buy agricultural supplies directly from private sales agent networks. In remote communes, local shops play a very important role. People can borrow rice, seeds, fertilizer and other necessities for home consumption. They can even borrow money to attend weddings and funerals and to pay children’s school fees. Although repayment is often in kind, interest rates tend to be high (up to 3-4%/month). The Government no longer supports households with transportation or price subsidies, but, since 2010, provides cash or kind of 80,000 VND per person per year in Category II communes and 100,000 VND per person per year in Category III communes (Decision 102). Most communes at the monitoring points apply for in-kind support, based on the stated needs of poor households. However, the system has had some difficulties: as funds were not disbursed in time the costs of seeds increased as a result of inflation and seeds were provided too late for planting. In a number of instances prices for agricultural output rose slower than inputs, reducing farmers’ purchasing power (see Section 4 “Coping with Price Volatility”).

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Access to information Access to information via TV and telephones has improved. The number of households with no TV or telephone has fallen significantly (Table 2.13). In some communes (Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh, Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Duc Huong-Ha Tinh, Cu Hue-Dak Lak, Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh) almost all households have telephones, and many individual household members have a mobile phone. TABLE 2.13. Percent of households with no TV set or telephone, 2007-2011 Commune

No TV sets (%)

No telephones (%)

2007

2011

2007

2011

Thuan Hoa

58

28

93

7

Ban Lien

70

31

100

19

Thanh Xuong

2

4

52

11

Luong Minh

75

50

100

55

Duc Huong

25

2

86

6

Xy

37

21

95

44

Cu Hue

9

2

56

18

Phuoc Dai

36

18

80

27

Phuoc Thanh

54

19

94

56

Thuan Hoa

24

3

79

26

Average

39

18

84

27

SOURCE: Household interviews Many

remote villages are still not connected to the national grid and have no telephone coverage, so few households have TVs or telephones, for example Luong Minh-Nghe An. Elsewhere coverage is weak and unstable. The efficiency of access to information depends on the information channel. Although television is a useful source of regularly updated information with large audiences, the quality of information is often limited. The most effective source of information on policies, programmes and projects are village and organizational meetings and activities (see Item 1.6 “Participation and empowerment�).

Risks The only dimension that has worsened over the last five years is the ability to manage risk. Some communes witnessing a sharp increase in the percentage of households reporting facing risks that greatly affect their lives in the last 12 months are Ban Lien-Lao Cai, Luong Minh-Nghe An, Xy-Quang Tri and Phuoc Dai-Ninh Thuan (Table 2.14).


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

TABLE 2.14. Percentage of local residents reporting facing risks that greatly affect their lives in the last 12 months, 2007-2011 (%) Commune

2007

2011

Thuan Hoa

48

33

Ban Lien

56

67

Thanh Xuong

20

24

Luong Minh

66

72

Duc Huong

63

35

Xy

26

61

Cu Hue

58

35

Phuoc Dai

43

69

Phuoc Thanh

63

59

Thuan Hoa

40

42

Average

48

49

SOURCE: Household interviews

Risks and shocks increasing people’s vulnerability are the biggest challenge to sustainable poverty reduction. Risks in the last five years include natural disasters, pests, disease, illness, inflation and adverse weather. Poor living conditions and nutrition can also pose health problems for the poor. In some communes (Luong Minh-Nghe An, Thanh XuongDien Bien), many households have members who suffer from drug use, leading to labour shortages and other difficulties. See Item 1.4 “Vulnerability�. Other poverty dimensions Other important poverty dimensions include social capital, land, financial capital, participation and empowerment and gender equality. The following discusses social capital, land, and financial capital. Participation and empowerment and gender equality are mentioned separately in this report. Social capital based on community relationships is maintained at most monitoring points. In ethnic minority villages, people suffering food shortages prior to crop harvests can get small food grants or borrow food from relatives and neighbours. Whole villages support households who face unanticipated hardship or have to host major social events by providing labour, rice, wine or money. In many places, the practice of labour exchange is well maintained. Village funds comprised of contributions from all villagers are used to lend to the poor who are short of food or support households with sick members. The practice of tending buffalos and cows on contract is beneficial to both the owners and the contractors. Many clans play well the role of encouraging learning and helping relatives in need. Formal and informal groups help members to participate in learning and sharing experiences and develop social contacts. In some places, people contribute labour, materials and money to build and repair public facilities that benefit the community (such as bridges over streams in Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang, Luong Minh-Nghe An, expanded village roads and a new village headquarters in Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien). Where many people seek waged employment in informal sectors (such as in Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Duc Huong-Ha Tinh, Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh) networks are indispensable.

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In some places, market factors have eroded social capital. In lowland communes the use of services and mechanization has reduced the practice of labour exchange. Well-off households who have more land tend to hire labour and mechanization services. In places where people work away from home, the effective operation of local groups is a major challenge. The attendance of weddings, death anniversaries, grand birthdays, and regular birthdays now requires “gift money�, a heavy burden for poor households. Land acreage and quality is an important poverty dimension. Population growth and changing land use is putting pressure on available land in mountainous ethnic minority areas. New households, or households that lack labour tend to own the poorest quality land as fertile land and land close to water sources are already occupied. In lowland areas the re-division of land in the early 1990s means land remains evenly distributed. However, those born since the 1990s, or women from outside the province newly married to local men do not have access to productive land. Programme 30a aims to grant the poor access to productive and forest land. However, its impact has been limited as there is little available fertile land that can be reclaimed, a lack of funding for granting of land use right certificates and for documenting contracted land and protected forest. Natural resources, important to ethnic minorities, are increasingly scarce. Ethnic minorities in remote areas rely on natural resources such as rattan, bamboo, bamboo shoots, leaves, forest vegetables, fish, and wild animals for domestic consumption and sale. Shrinking forests and increased forest protection means hunting and gathering are increasingly restricted. Concessional credit policies have improved access to capital. In 2009 the average loan was 12 million VND. In 2011 it was 15 million VND (Table 2.15). TABLE 2.15. Bank loans and purchase on credit, 2009-2011 Commune

Percent of HHs having outstanding bank loans (%)

Average bank loans (million VND)

Percent of HHs purchasing on credit from shops/agents (%)

2009

2011

2009

2011

2009

2011

Thuan Hoa

56

43

8

11

13

8

Ban Lien

68

63

9

13

12

22

Thanh Xuong

52

35

9

17

43

20

Luong Minh

80

90

8

10

42

58

Duc Huong

73

71

20

29

60

56

Xy

35

35

12

8

48

45

Cu Hue

43

41

18

18

55

62

Phuoc Dai

50

52

12

13

42

49

Phuoc Thanh

58

55

12

13

65

68

Thuan Hoa

63

68

10

13

37

50

Average

58

55

12

15

42

44

SOURCE: Household interviews


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

Some households do not have bank loans. Some do not need them. Others worry they will struggle to repay both principal and interest. Some “chronically” poor households are unable to persuade possible guarantors - leaders of mass organizations and heads of saving and credit groups - that they will be able to repay their debts. Borrowers take out loans for different reasons. In mountainous ethnic minority communes, some people use loans for daily expenses. In delta areas such as Duc Huong-Ha Tinh many people use loans to fund children’s education. At present, there are many overlapping credit policies that limit the repayment rates. Often borrowers take out new loans to repay old ones, or take informal high interest loans to repay bank loans. Many then immediately take new bank loans to repay informal loans. Local residents at the monitoring points can borrow small amounts from micro credit funds such as funds of mass organizations, village funds, and revolving funds funded by donor projects. People also often buy daily necessities and goods from shops on credit or borrow money to pay tuition fees, and repay debts following harvest.

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3. BUILDING SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEMS Social security (or social protection in broad terms)22 systems include three circles of support: the innermost system consists of “protective” measures through social assistance, the next circle consists of “preventive” measures through insurance schemes, and the outermost circle consists of “capacity-building” measures focusing on active labour market measures. As Viet Nam becomes a low middle income country comprehensive social security systems will be a crucial source of support for the poor and vulnerable.

3.1. Target-oriented social security policies  

Current target-oriented criteria

The target-oriented mechanism in social security policies in Viet Nam is complicated. Each policy has its own mechanism for targeting different groups. For example, social assistance policy under Decree 67 and Decree 13 combines two criteria for “poor people” and “poor households”: “poor single parents with young children” must belong to poor households; “people with serious disabilities who are unable to work and serve themselves” do not necessarily belong to poor households. The policy of free health insurance under the Health Insurance Law combines three criteria “poor people”, “poor households” and disadvantaged “areas”: “children under six-year old “, or “people of poor households”, or “ethnic minorities living in areas of socio-economic difficulties or in special circumstances “ (Table 3.1). TABLE 3.1. An example on the “target-oriented” social security policies Policies

Target groups receiving assistance

Social assistance (Decree 67/ND-CP and Decree 13/ ND-CP)

People receiving monthly assistance:

Health insurance (Health Insurance Law No. 25/2008/ QH 12)

People receiving free medical insurance cards:

• Must belong to poor households: elderly and alone; over 80 years of age without pension or social insurance allowances; people living with HIV/AIDS unable to work; single parents with young children • Do not need to belong to poor households: people with serious disabilities who cannot work or look after themselves; people with mental health problems.

• Children under six years old • Members of poor households • Ethnic minorities living in areas of socio-economic difficult conditions or in special circumstances.

Limitations of the target-oriented mechanism based on the “poor household” list The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affair’s list of “poor households” is used to identify households who will benefit from social security and other policies. However, observations at the monitoring points suggests relying on the list of “poor households” can be problematic. 22 According to ILSSA/GIZ (2011), Social protection is “the set of public (social insurance/social assistance) and private interventions (non-statutory or private measures) designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability; it comprehends the enhancement of capacity of people and society in protecting themselves against hazards and interruption or loss of income; and assures social stability, development and equality”.


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

Many households do not want to be removed from the list of poor households. Annual poverty surveys and reviews in each village are difficult. Many people are reluctant to disclose their true income as they wish to be included in the poor household list. Those on the list receive free medical insurance cards, concessional loans, seeds, temporary housing elimination support, financial support for children’s nursery and general school fees, financial support during Tet (traditional Lunar New Year) and electricity subsidies. Poverty surveys and reviews face a number of difficulties. The annual poverty review follows MOLISA procedures. Officials and local residents proposed several reasons for inaccurate poverty reviews: •

The current income poverty line does not correspond to people’s basic expenditures, particularly in periods of high inflation.

There is a fine line between poor and near-poor households.

The capacity of grassroots officials is limited, particularly in mountainous ethnic minority communes, and training for the poverty review is not conducted carefully.

Pre-determined “poverty reduction” targets and plans also put pressure on grassroots cadres.

Local residents prefer to remain on the poverty list in order to receive assistance.

The "poor household“ list is not separated from the "targeting criteria“ of support policies. According to current regulations, households with an average income of less than 400,000 VND per person per month are classified as "poor households“ and are eligible for supports designated for the poor. This situation makes the poverty reviews being difficult and heavy, because there is a big incentive difference between the households in the list and those not in the list. The poor need to be further categorised for more effective support. There are many reasons households are poor. Assistance should be tailored to the needs of households with specific characteristics: • The extremely poor tend to be disabled, suffering long-term illness, elderly and single, or single parents with young children. They tend to have limited or poor quality land, low levels of education, minimal proficiency in the Vietnamese language and no skills. Most are in the “chronically poor” group and are unable to escape poverty, are regularly short of food and relying on small grants from relatives and villagers. Regular social assistance policies do help some extremely poor households. However, by increasing the amount of regular social assistance, tending to the needs of extremely poor households minimal living standards can be assured23. • The temporarily poor are the largest proportion of poor households. The temporarily poor have labour, but lack capital, technical knowledge, and access to markets to escape poverty. Effective policy should target capacity building, the generation of opportunities and the reduction of direct grants for the temporarily poor group. • The vulnerable poor are typically households who live in disaster-prone areas. Policies should focus on mitigating risks associated with natural disasters, particularly as a result of climate change. Vulnerable households are also susceptible to sickness, epidemics, pests, diseases, and accidents. Others have specific social characteristics; for example they are geographically isolated 23 The “Social Security Floor” initiative, jointly sponsored by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), is to promoting integrated strategies in order to ensure minimum level of social security for all, including ensuring access of everyone to basic social services and income security.

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or drug users. Assistance should concentrate on mitigating specific risks and supporting sustainable livelihoods. • The near-poor include also the households who have just escaped from poverty, and their living standards are not much higher than those actually in poverty. The near-poor also tend to lack savings. As a group they require a system of support policies similar to the temporarily poor in a certain period (2-3 years) for sustainable poverty reduction. Poverty reviews conducted at the end of the year excludes households who fall into poverty at other times of the year. Near-poor and vulnerable households can easily fall into poverty at any time of the year. In principle, the list of poor households can be updated during the year, but because of complicated procedures and paper work, this is not done at all monitoring points. The current policy on support for people who face unanticipated difficulties is also weak in terms of its coverage and funding.

Other limitations in targeting groups The target-oriented mechanism is too complicated, creating a management burden. The group of cadres in Vi Xuyen district-Ha Giang commented “Mechanisms and policies should be synchronised. There are too many policy documents, for example those relating to tuition fee exemptions and reductions for poor students in Category III communes under Decree 49. The files of beneficiaries are too thick”. “Cash transfer (conditional or unconditional)” programmes based on targets are not available. In Viet Nam, there is direct cash support for education expenses for poor students, orphans and students living in border, highland, and island areas and in specially disadvantaged communes under Decree 49. However, the level of support under Decree 49 is too low, and has limited impact. Other possible recipients include the mother and child healthcare which currently has no cash support policy. Although conditional cash transfers have proved successful in other countries they can be difficult to manage and monitor.

3.2. Social assistance In general, social assistance has been duly provided to the right beneficiaries already listed at the monitoring points. Households in difficult circumstances reported in interview that they were happy to receive regular assistance under Decree 67, helping them to partially cover their daily expenses. In addition, the Government has also provided ad hoc support to people and households who have suffered natural disasters or food shortages. The level and coverage of social assistance policies has been increased. Decree 13 (effective 13 April 2010, and which revises and supplements Decree 67) has: •

Increased the basic level of assistance from 120,000 VND per month to 180,000 VND per month

Removed the requirement that disabled people who are no longer able to work or look after themselves must be a “a member of a poor household”

Lowered certain requirements for people with mental health problems

Provided tuition and education materials to social assistance recipients who are attending school.

According to the Law on the Elderly, starting in early 2011, people over the age of 80 (previously 85) are entitled to social assistance. This is a step forward in social assistance policy. However, the level of basic assistance of 180,000 VND/month is too low compared to the cost of living at present.


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

The coverage of social assistance policies is limited. At most monitoring points, the percentage of households in the survey sample receiving social assistance is low (Table 3.2). Social assistance policies under Decree 67 only target groups with special “structural” characteristics (elderly, disabled, orphans, single parents with young children), and do not cover vulnerable groups who are, nevertheless, able to work. Guidelines and implementation of policies do not fully take into account customs of ethnic minorities and social prejudices in localities. TABLE 3.2. Proportion of households with members receiving social assistance, 2011 (%) Commune

Pension

Assistance to people with nationally recognized merits

Assistance to Agent Orange/ Dioxin victims

Assistance under Decision 67/CP

Poor HHs

Nonpoor HHs

Poor HHs

Nonpoor HHs

Poor HHs

Nonpoor HHs

Poor HHs

Nonpoor HHs

Thuan Hoa

0

0

0

0

4

7

9

0

Ban Lien

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Thanh Xuong

0

39

0

0

0

0

7

9

Luong Minh

0

18

0

0

0

0

25

9

Duc Huong

0

14

16

38

3

0

16

7

Xy

5

17

17

22

2

0

12

11

Cu Hue

-

0

-

0

-

0

-

2

Phuoc Dai

0

0

10

27

2

9

6

0

Phuoc Thanh

0

10

4

30

4

0

4

0

Thuan Hoa

0

3

0

0

0

0

4

0

Average

1

11

6

8

2

1

10

4

SOURCE: Household interviews

The capacity of cadres in charge of social work at the commune level is poor. Until 2010 cadres in charge of social work in seven communes were aged between 40 and 50 and only educated until lower secondary school. As a result administration was slow and many people eligible for social assistance missed out or experienced delays in receiving benefits. By 2011, four communes saw changes to personnel in charge of social work under Decree 92. Newly appointed cadres are young with intermediate or higher educational qualifications. However, they still lack experience and in depth knowledge of legal documents and policies. Training on social assistance policies for grassroots cadres has not been given sufficient attention. Many surveyed communes only received one training workshop in the implementation of Decree 67 in 2008. Some ethnic minority cadres, who received training, do not remember how many target groups there are. Information on social assistance was only delivered verbally at briefings of commune and village cadres. In many villages, many people who are eligible for social assistance were ignored, particularly “poor single women with young children”. In some cases the deceased remained on lists of those eligible for social assistance.

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Calculation of the level of assistance for some target groups is complicated, particularly inter-ministerial Circular No. 24/2010/TTLT-BLĐTBXH-BTC dated 18 August 2010, guiding the implementation of Decree 67 and Decree 13. Many commune cadres in mountainous ethnic minority areas do not know how to calculate the level of assistance for people or households eligible for more than one type of assistance. There is limited openness and transparency in the implementation of social assistance policies. Most respondents at the monitoring points do not know the details of social assistance policies. People in ethnic minority areas who do not speak or write Vietnamese cannot complete application forms. Many ethnic minorities reported the wrong age in their ID cards and in permanent residence books, and lack required documentation such as birth certificates, and certificates attesting to their wartime contributions. Procedures to obtain “disability” certificates to be eligible for social assistance are also complicated. Lack of local funding for the management of social assistance recipients under Decree 67. For example Tuong Duong district-Nghe An has more than 5,000 social assistance recipients; in 2011 alone, more than 1,700 cases were reviewed under Decree 13. Due to a limited local budget, the district Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs faced many difficulties covering management costs. Decree 54 states departments receive 1.92% of the total disbursement as management fees. Mountainous districts do not have the adequate resources to provide occational aid to households in need. According Decree 67, the “district has to cover the cost” with support, if necessary, from the province, of providing occational aid to households experiencing risks or who have other urgent requirements such as burial costs. However, some districts, particularly the more remote lack the necessary resources.

3.3. Insurance Voluntary social insurance policies are not yet popular in rural areas. Farmers and those working in the informal sector lack understanding of voluntary social insurance policies, and the level of periodic contribution is still high. Health insurance policy for all. Poor, ethnic minority people in disadvantaged areas, and children under six-years-old can benefit from health insurance subsidies introduced as part of the Health Insurance Law. However, very few near-poor households buy voluntary medical insurance cards (with a 50% or sometimes 80% subsidy). The largest proportion (30% in 2011) near-poor households buying health insurance is in Duc Huong commune, Ha Tinh. Providing and distributing medical insurance cards and informing people of the benefits of health insurance is problematic. Few grassroots cadres sufficiently understand available health insurance to advise local residents. An alternative would be village population and health collaborators who could help persuade villagers to buy health insurance, and issue medical insurance cards to children under six years old. There are also delays in issuing medical insurance cards in mountainous communes for a number of reasons: delay in the listing of beneficiaries by communes; names, particularly of ethnic minorities, are recorded incorrectly; long distances from remote villages to commune center; children under six-years-old don’t have birth certificates; and delays transferring the list of poor households from Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs agencies to social insurance agencies. The services of selling health insurance, including selling subsidised health insuarance for the near poor, are not yet user-friendly. The benefits of health insurance for the poor are limited. The poor still face extra


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

costs for medical examination and treatment in higher-level hospitals (including travel, accommodation and food). Patients also have to pay a proportion of the cost (5% for poor households, 20% for near-poor households) according to the new Health Insurance Law. This regulations make difficulty for the poor, near poor patients in ethnic minority areas. In Vi Xuyen district-Ha Giang, the district People’s Committee has to pay the district hospital 50 VND million for the “joint payment of cost” scheme for poor and near-poor ethnic minorities. The quality of healthcare services provided to patients using medical insurance cards is poor. In the deltas, most people go to district and provincial hospitals for health check-ups and treatment, putting pressure on hospital resources. Patients are also concerned about the ethics of some medical doctors.

3.4. Community-based social security Direct and immediate community support is important to the poor. At most monitoring points, the most popular community support measures for the poor who face difficulties are visits, spiritual encouragement and food provision (grant or lending) (Table 3.3). In many places, clan members, mass organizations and the wider village community raise money for households in difficulty. In some mountainous ethnic minority areas communities hep out by providing labour (Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang, Ban Lien-Lao Cai, Xy-Quang Tri, Phuoc Dai-Ninh Thuan, and Cu Hue-Dak Lak). TABLE 3.3. Support measures undertaken by relatives, villagers, mass organizations and local authorities for households facing risks, 2011 Commune

Thuan Hoa

Support measures to help people who face risks in the last 12 months (%) Cash

Food

In kinds

Labour

Training, showing how to do business

Vocational training, seeking jobs

Information

House visits, Spiritual encouragement

Others

44

25

0

38

0

0

13

38

0

Ban Lien

50

30

10

40

10

20

30

60

0

Thanh Xuong

11

0

0

33

11

0

56

100

0

Luong Minh

7

85

5

17

2

0

29

55

2

Duc Huong Xy

Cu Hue

40

35

10

15

40

5

15

60

5

53

44

0

56

100

0

41

78

0

0

0

0

50

0

0

0

50

50

Phuoc Dai

37

67

4

15

15

0

4

33

0

Phuoc Thanh

46

79

29

0

0

4

0

58

0

Thuan Hoa

57

43

0

14

14

29

14

14

14

Average

35

56

7

24

11

3

22

57

3

SOURCE: Household interviews

In remote communes, community based social security institutions remain strong. Many community-based support activities are effective. Villages raise and manage common funds in cash or kind. Funds are used for many purposes such as payment for village positions, welcoming guests, parties and support for activities of mass organizations and community (art and sport activities, Mid-Autumn Festivals, Great

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Solidarity Day, customary rituals etc.) and especially to help households who are short of food prior to harvests, visits to households who have sick members or where someone has recently died (Box 3.1).

BOX 3.1. Village paddy fund plays the role of community security net in Ban Lien commune - Lao Cai “Village Paddy Fund” is an effective community security form in Doi 1 village, Ban Lien commune (Bac Ha, Lao Cai). The paddy fund was established in 2002 with 35 kg, by 2011 it rose to 870 kg. Under the village convention, a married couple separated into a household (by house roof) contributes 15 kg paddy. The fund is used to lend to households in the village prior to harvests with an interest rate of 20% a year (2kg per 10kg borrowed). Those households who borrow paddy for weddings or funerals do not have to pay interest. Most poor households in the village have borrowed paddy from this fund. In 2011,14 households borrowed between 22kg and 70kg from the fund. The paddy fund is managed by the Village Fatherland Front Committee. Some ethnic minority communities (Xy-Quang Tri, Luong Minh-Nghe An), distribute assistance from programmes and projects equally between households or according to household size. The experiences of some communes suggest that in some cases the poor would benefit if provided with a greater than average share. Religious organizations play an important role in times of hardship. Typical examples are the Sang Khum association of Kh’mer people (in Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh), Catholicism and Buddhist Pagodas. For example, in 2010, in Cu Hue, Dak Lak, the Buddhist Shanga raised funds to help a household whose house was burnt down. Community based security institutions are in decline in lowland communes. Mechanisation and the availability of surplus labour has caused a reduction in the practise of labour exchange. Poor households are also less dependent on extended family members and relatives because they can borrow from shops and sales agents. More and more people work away from home which also make community security institutions difficult to be maintained. The impacts of natural disasters, epidemics, disease, and inflation are becoming too complex for community institutions alone.

3.5. Vocational training Vocational training in remote mountainous ethnic minority areas is limited. Crucial information about vocational training (providers, policies and possible jobs for those who have received training) is poorly communicated. Most poor people are not interested in vocational training as they need daily works for immediate cash to feed their families, do not have the time or literacy to benefit. A number of courses also have little relevance to the local economy. As they are short (2-3 months), and the level of training is limited, many courses are not very effective. There is no system of monitoring and evaluation and so it is difficult to assess the quality of the courses. Although Resolution 30a on “Support Programme to rapid and sustainable poverty reduction for 61 poor districts” and Decision 1956 on “Support to vocational training for rural labourers by 2010” have strengthened vocational training for rural labourers vocational training for the poor remains a challenge.


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

4. COPING WITH PRICE VOLATILITY High inflation rate is a hot issue in Viet Nam since 2007. In particular, in 2008 and 201124, inflation was a great challenge to macroeconomic stabilization as well as people’s lives. This section presents the trend of price volatility in 2011 and its impacts on people’s lives and livelihoods at the monitoring points.

4.1. Price volatility and the role of market agents  

Price volatility in 2011 at monitoring points The correlation between the price of agricultural produce, agricultural supplies and food varies between monitoring sites. In communes with favourable conditions for large-scale commodity production (Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Cu Hue-Dak Lak and Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh), compared to 2010 the average sale price in 2011 of rice and maize increased by 25-30%, coffee 50% and key agricultural supplies by 25-30%. In other communes, the price of agricultural inputs rose faster than outputs. In 2010-2011 in Duc Huong-Ha the price of peanuts, the main product, increased by 5%, while the price of fertilizer increased by more than 30%. In mountainous areas (Luong Minh-Nghe An, Xy-Quang Tri and Phuoc Thanh-Ninh Thuan) where rice from self-production is insufficient, the prices of rice increased by 25-30%. Strong seasonal price volatility is severely affected by natural disasters, epidemics, diseases and world markets. At the monitoring points, the price of rice, maize, and coffee at the end of the harvesting season is at least 20-30% higher than that of the beginning of the season or main crop harvest. The quality of agricultural produce greatly affects its price. A typical example is the price of fresh cassava in Xy-Quang Tri in September 2011 which fluctuated between 900 VND/kg and 2,000 VND/kg depending on the concentration of starch. The “blue-ear” epidemic in pigs in 2010 was the main cause of high price of piglets in the first months of 2011. Changing world markets have rapid and strong impacts on the price at the monitoring points, such as the daily change in price of coffee in Cu Hue-Dak Lak which closely follows the world coffee price.

The role of market agents in the wake of price volatility Enterprises cannot help farmers with volatile prices. Enterprises purchase products from farmers (tea processing enterprises in Ban Lien-Lao Cai, cassava processing enterprises in Xy-Quang Tri, and coffee export enterprises in Cu Hue-Dak Lak). Enterprises support the production process (training, technical assistance, provision of seeds and fertilizer), however most enterprises purchase agricultural produce at prevailing market prices. Sale agents reduce the amount of lending agricultural supplies in the wake of price volatility. People in many places (Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien, Duc Huong-Ha Tinh, Cu Hue-Dak Lak, and Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh) can buy fertilizer, rice, food, sundries from sale agents on credit and pay later at a price that includes interest. Some sale agents lend agricultural supplies and purchase produce at a discount. Price volatility in 2011 meant many sale agents lent less to farmers. The volume of fertilizer sold in 2011 fell in in Duc Huong-Ha Tinh (by 20%) and Cu Hue-Dak Lak (by 30%). Changing prices also affect buyers. In Duc Huong-Ha Tinh, the price of peanuts (25,000 VND/kg) and green beans (24,000 VND/kg) fell by 5,000 VND/kg in 2011. Many agents who had bought and hoarded produce made a significant loss. 24 Average consumer price index in 2008 increased 22.97% against that in 2007. Average consumer price index in 2011 increased 18.58% against that in 2010; in which the price index of agro-forestry produce and aqua products was up by 31.8%; and the price index of inputs and fuel used for production 21.27%; the price index of transportation cost 18.52%. Source: GSO website, http://www.gso.gov.vn/default. aspx?tabid=413&thangtk=12/2008 and http://www.gso.gov.vn/default.aspx?tabid=507&ItemID=12128

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Cooperatives and farmers’ groups can help farmers cope with changing prices, but this form of assistance is small and not very popular. Only 2 of the 10 monitoring points (Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien and Duc Huong-Ha Tinh) have cooperatives or mass organizations which are active in selling fertilizer to members through partnership with Agricultural Material Companies (Box 4.1). Due to fixed prices at the time of fertilizer delivery and late payment between 3 and 6 months with bank interest rate, members of cooperatives or mass organizations can lessen their difficulties when the price of fertilizer increased. In Duc Huong-Ha Tinh, in 2011, the price of fertilizer increased a lot, but the price of peanuts declined sharply, agents reduce the amount of fertilizer lent to farmers, therefore many households shifted over to borrowing fertilizer from the Farmers’ Association. In late 2011, the volume of fertilizer lent to farmers by the Farmers’ Association in Duc Huong commune-Ha Tinh was more than double that at the same time in 2010, making up 25-30% of the local fertilizer market share.

BOX 4.1. Cooperatives support farmers in fertilizer Before 2009, members of the Management and team leaders of the Agricultural Cooperative in Thanh Xuong commune (Dien Bien district, Dien Bien province) had to use their personal red book as collateral for bank loans to buy fertilizer for its members. Since 2010, the purchase of fertilizer has been easier because the Dien Bien Provincial Agricultural Material Company has agreed to allow the Cooperative to guarantee for farmers to buy its supplies on credit and repay after crop harvests. One or two months prior to the crop, farmers register the amount of fertilizer needed to the head of the village (who is also the manager of the cooperative), and then villages report the total amount to the cooperative to sign a contract with the Agricultural Material Company. The price of fertilizer is fixed at the time of delivery to farmers. The interest rate of delayed payment is calculated according to the interest rate applied by the Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development at the time the contract is signed (in the 2010 Summer-Autumn crop it was 1.25%/month, that in 2011 was 1.68%/month). In addition, the Company gave a head of village VND50,000 per ton of fertilizer registered by farmers. In the context of high fertilizer price, partnership between Agricultural Material companies, cooperatives and villages in the sale of fertilizer on credit with delayed payment has helped households have more opportunities to invest in their production. By the end of 2011, 21 of 24 production teams in the whole commune registered to by fertilizer through the Cooperative totalling nearly 105 tons (accounting for 70% of the total volume consumed by the commune). Cooperative cadres and local residents said all households repaid on time. --- “The whole group borrowed fertilizer through the village head, following the announcement of the village head all villagers went to the store to get fertilizer. In the Spring-Summer crop, we have to repay on July 15, and in the Summer-Autumn Crop, October 15. Everyone repaid fully...” (poor men and women groups in Pa Dong village, Thanh Xuong commune). Small shops and vendors are not affected by price volatility. Shops and vendors form a supply network of rice, food, and necessities. They also purchase small amounts of agricultural produce in remote areas. A popular activity is to buy goods in district towns to be resold to local residents in cash or on credit with interest at a 10-30% profit. Poor households can only buy small amounts on credit, and they must repay quickly. Many of the poorest households are not allowed to buy on credit. Small volumes and rapid payment mean shops and are not affected by price volatility.


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

Selling and buying practices of the poor Cash shortages and limited access to formal credit means that the poor often have to borrow rice, food, necessities, seeds and fertilizer from shops and sale agents on unfavourable terms. When selling their produce to shops and sales agents in part repayment of loans they often have to accept prices up to 10% lower than the market price. The poor also lack the means to store or preserve produce so are forced to sell at prevailing prices.

4.2. Impacts of price increase on livelihoods Impacts on productivity Intensive commodity rice farmers increased income. In the Kinh villages in Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien with a high level of intensive farming, fertile land in Dien Bien valley, favourable weather conditions, good irrigation for two rice crops a year, farmers often harvest bumper crops with average rice yield of above 6 tons/ha/crop. With the current price, the income (without calculating labour) of rice farmers in Thanh Xuong-Dien Bien from the main rice crop in 2011 was 30% higher than that in 2010 (Figure 4.1). FIGURE 4.1. Production accounting of 1 ha of rice in Thanh Xuong - Dien Bien

SOURCE: Statistics provided by people and sales agents of Thanh Xuong commune-DB, November 2011

Coffee growers had increased incomes. In Cu Hue-Dak Lak, the average price for coffee beans rose by 50% between in October 2010 and October 2011, increasing incomes by 20%. Some farmers stored coffee, waiting for higher prices. Commodity maize producers had reduced incomes. Input prices (seeds, fertilizer, services and labour) increased faster than the price offered for the first maize crop (from April to July) in 2011 in Cu Hue-Dak Lak. Farmers calculated their incomes to be 10-15% than in 2010. Cassava producers saw their incomes from their main crop increase in 2011, but fall following the second crop. In Xy commune-Quang Tri, the price of fresh cassava in late 2010 and early 2011 was 2,200-2,400 VND/kg - an increase of about 40% over the same period of 2010. From mid-2011, the price of cassava fell in response

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to prices in the Chinese market. By October 2011 the price of cassava was 1,500VND/kg only 7% higher than October 2010, compared to a 30% increase in the price of rice. The price of cassava continued to decline to only 800 VND/kg in late 2011 and early 2012. Pig farmers earned unstable incomes as a result of volatile prices. In March and April 2011 in Thuan Hoa-Tra Vinh, the price of live pork increased, encouraging farmers to invest in pig farming. However, the price then fell from the middle of 2011 while the price of feed, rice and piglets continued to increase. FIGURE 4.2. Accounting of pig farming for 100kg of live pork in Thuan Hoa - Tra Vinh

SOURCE: Statistics provided by people in Thuan Hoa commune-TV, Oct. 2011

In real terms the purchasing power of most farmers declined. In Thanh XuongDien Bien both incomes and the price of rice rose by 30% between 2010 and 2011. Maize, cassava and pig farmers in most monitoring sites saw total incomes rise less than the rice price. The price of meat also increased significantly in 2011. The poor are sensitive to higher input prices and benefit little from increasing agricultural prices. The poor have little cash, and normally they use little fertilizer and other commercial supplies. Due to low risk coping capacities, the poor further reduce the use of fertilizer and commercial supplies when their price increases, leading to low crop yield. Moreover, the poor often have small-scale production (little land area under commodity crops). All of these factors make the poor having less product for sale, together with their weak market positions, thus enjoying little from the increasing price of agricultural produce.

Impacts on production modes Toward a low-investment model. In response to the rising price of agricultural supplies farmers reduced fertilizer costs by using manure and turning to locally sourced seeds. In Cu Hue-Dak Lak, poor Ede households moved from maize and coffee to cassava or intercropped taro, saffron and young coffee trees to increase incomes. Diversifying livelihoods, relying more on nature. In mountainous ethnic minority areas, the poor turn to fishing and gathering in response to rising food prices. As natural resources become more scarce, people have to travel further. Others turn to local casual jobs or migrant labour. The average daily wage in 2011 was 100,000 VND/day,


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

an increase of 20-30% over 2010 (70-80,000 VND/day). Unfortunately, local casual jobs are few and unstable. Ede women in Cu Hue-Dak Lak make use of their leisure time by doing low paid (about 20-30,000 VND/day) casual work such as peeling cashew nuts. Reducing intensive pig farming. High prices for piglets and feed, volatile prices for live pork and frequent epidemics and disease has forced a reduction in intensive pig farming. In Cu Hue-Dak Lak for instance, the number of pigs farmed fell from 8,000 to 5,000 between 2010 and 2011. In many mountainous areas farmers began to breed local pigs (“black pigs”) rather than hybrid pigs (“white pigs”). Extensive local breed pig farming can make use of locally available products such as maize and cassava without the need for expensive commercial feeds. Local pigs grow slowly but can be sold at higher prices than hybrid pigs. In Duc Huong-Ha Tinh, some households have shifted over to raise dogs as puppy breeders instead of pigs. Farmers sometimes react too quickly to changing prices. Farmers tend to expand the production of crops with rising prices such as cassava, coffee and pepper. In Cu Hue-Dak Lak, for example, following a year on year increase of 40% in the price of cassava at the beginning of 2011 many Ede households grew more cassava. However, once the price fell in the middle of 2011 many farmers found themselves in financial difficulty. This is a common problem across the monitoring sites, and as well as financial losses results in inefficiency of land use. To reduce costs in the face of rising prices people exchange labour (such as in cassava harvesting in Xy-Quang Tri, in rice harvesting in Thuan Hoa-Ha Giang and Phuoc Dai-Ninh Thuan, tea tending and harvesting in Ban Lien-Lao Cai...), and share transport (in Cu Hue-Dak Lak, Ede villagers are travelling to upland fields). Price rises have increased awareness of the importance of quality. Traders are now more demanding. In Xy-Quang Tri, the practise of labour exchange helped farmers harvest their cassava quickly in order to prevent a reduction in the quality of starch. Similarly, in Ban Lien-Lao Cai, labour exchange in harvesting tea in time to achieve the standard of “1 bud 2 leaves”. In Cu Hue-Dak Lak, farmers are more aware of the importance of harvesting ripe coffee beans and processing maize so that it is cleaner and drier and so commands a higher price.

Impacts on consumption The common coping measure of the poor is saving expenses in the context of inflation. Changes in consumption at the monitoring points in 2011 are as follows: Rice. Rice is important to household life. Although the price of rice increased in 2011, few households were short of rice . Where farmers face difficult conditions (Luong Minh-Nghe An, Xy-Quang Tri, Phuoc Dai and Phuoc Thanh-Ninh Thuan), the poor tend to be short of food in immediately prior to harvests. Following the rise in the price of rice local residents purchased poor quality rice, borrowed money from shops, gathered bamboo shoots and firewood for sale or took waged employment. Some poor households mixed rice with cassava and maize for their meals. Meat, fish. All of the poor at the monitoring points consumed less meat and fish, turning nstead to cheaper protein foods such as eggs, soy bean curds and dried fish. In some communes, poor households added to their food sources by trapping wild animals in forests or fishing in rivers and streams.

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Other food. The poor also reduced their consumption of other foods such as instant noodle, seasoning powder and cooking oil, turning instead to using animal fat or buying small bags of cooking oil worth only 2,000-3,000 VND each. Reducing other expenses. The poor also spent less on electricity, clothing, weddings and funerals. Poor households are especially interested in the education costs, many people have to reduce the extra classes of their children. However, no cases of poor children dropping out from schools at the monitoring points are observed due to high inflation.

Relevant support policies The poor in mountainous areas who are in short of food often receive “relief rice” from the Government prior to harvests. When prices rise, they can receive ad hoc support under Decision 471/QD-TTg25. However, there are no similar policies for social assistance recipients (under Decree 67 and Decree 13). Although most social assistance recipients are classified as poor some people are not (people over 80 years old, handicapped people who are unable to earn a living or care for themselves), yet face many difficulties in the wake of price increase. When the government readjusted the electricity price in March 2011, poor households, and low-income households are subsidized with every poor household receiving 30,000 VND/month under Decision 268/QD-TTg26. Most of the poor at the monitoring points received this assistance. But it is difficult for households who share the same electricity meter to receive this assistance because it is unable to identify households using less than 50 Kwh/month (without separate electricity bill for each household). An example is Phuoc Dai commune, Ninh Thuan. Of the 123 poor households in Ta Lu 1 village, only several households have separate electricity meters, and the rest share meters (4-5 households/meter); in Ma Hoa village only 20 of 131 poor households have separate meters.

25 Under Decision 471/QĐ-TTg dated 30 March 2011 of the Prime Mister: the level of assistance is 250,000 VND/person for civil servants, and armed forces... that have wage coefficient of 3.0 and less; pensioners and social insurance recipients of 2.2 million VND/month and less; and people who rendered great services to the revolution and receive regular allowances. The level of assistance of 100.000 VND/person for recipients of dead allowances. The level of 250,000 VND/household for poor household according to new poverty line. 26 Under Decision 268/QĐ-TTg dated 23 Feb. 2011 of the Prime Mister, households regularly use electricity not more than 50 kWh/month can register with electricity supplier to enjoy concessional electricity price (993 VND/kWh) and poor households receive price subsidy for 50kWh/month, the level of assistance is 30,000 VND/household/month.


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

5. LABOUR MOBILITY AND GENDER RELATIONS Labour mobility in Viet Nam, understood in this report as “migration for employment purpose” is increasing rapidly (Box 5.1). Labour mobility creates diversified livelihoods and is an increasingly important driver of poverty reduction in rural areas. This section presents the trends, motivations, and risks of labour mobility at the monitoring points, including working away from home (regular and seasonal), local casual jobs, and labour export. The data and analysis are gender-disaggregated within possible capacity.

Box 5.1. Increasing migration in Viet Nam Migration is the most important contributor to urbanization in Viet Nam, contributing up to 57% to the urban population growth. Most national surveys underestimate the level of migration. The Population Census includes permanent migrants, but not temporary or seasonal migrants. According to the latest Population Census, domestic migration has increased from 4.5 million people in 1999 to 6.6 million in 2009. Migration between urban areas and from rural to urban areas doubled between 1999 and 2009. The Central Highlands and the Southeast are two major destinations for migrants. Most migrants are seeking work. The majority of rural to urban migrants areas are young with an average age of 25. Increasing numbers of migrants are women. It is estimated that there are from 400,000 to 500,000 Vietnamese workers temporarily working in regional countries and in the Middle East. It is forecast that the number of migrants will increase, and there will be 10.4 million migrants in 2019, accounting for 12% of the total population. The ratio of rural migrants to the total urban population will increase from 9% in 2009 to 11% in 2019. Source: UNDP, “Social services for human development – Country Report on Human Development 1022”, November 2011; and General Statistics Office, “Viet Nam Population and Housing Census 2009: Major findings”, June 2010.

5.1. Working away from home Trends More people are working away from home and for longer. Most migrate to other provinces. In the surveyed communes the proportion of people working away from home rose from 5% to 8% over the five years of the survey. (Table 7.1). The lowland communes, with high number of Kinh or Kh’mer ethnic people (Duc Huong - Ha Tinh, and Thuan Hoa - Tra Vinh) have the highest proportion of migrant workers. People migrate for at least three months a year (82%) and most find jobs outside their home province (78%) Ethnic minority people in mountainous communes rarely work away from home. Those that do, do so for up to three months and most do not leave their province. In border communes, (Luong Minh - Nghe An, Xy - Quang Tri) some ethnic minority people go to Laos to work. More men work away from home than women, although the proportion of migrant women is rising. Table 5.1 shows that men tend to go further in search of work than women. Destinations where women often go to are low-land areas. The number women of Kh’mer women working away from home has increased significantly in the last five years.

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TABLE 5.1. Percent of people working away from home, 2007-2011 (%) Commune Thuan Hoa

General 2007 2011 2 1

Males 2007 3

2011 2

Females 2007 2011 1 0

Ban Lien

1

3

2

5

0

2

Thanh Xuong

4

6

7

8

2

3

Luong Minh

1

12

2

15

1

8

Duc Huong

17

19

24

28

10

11

Xy

2

2

3

3

0

0

Cu Hue

8

7

8

9

8

5

Phuoc Dai Phuoc Thanh Thuan Hoa

2 1 15

4 2 23

3 1 16

7 2 26

1 1 15

1 1 20

Average

5

8

7

10

3

5

SOURCE : Household interviews

Most people working away from home are young (18-35) and unmarried. In ethnic minority mountainous areas, most migrants seek seasonal and informal work in rural areas. In low-lying areas migrants also seek work in formal sectors in urban areas.

Motivations for working away from home Migrants seek better jobs and higher incomes. In urban areas, industrial zones or areas with a high concentration of commodity production, there is a strong demand for low and unskilled labour. Urbanization goes together with re-division of labour. Essential services in the informal sector that are not wanted by urban people (such as house maid, sales support, mason, cargo loading, street vending, scrap vending) have become opportunities for rural migrants. Better transport, communications and ease of migration regulations are promoting migration (Box 5.2).


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

BOX 5.2. Why migrate? •

Flooding (Duc Huong - Ha Tinh) and droughts (Luong Minh - Nghe An, Phuoc Dai - Ninh Thuan) are increasingly unpredictable and cause more damage, resulting in heavy looses to plantations and livestock.

No or little productive land (Kh’mer people in Thuan Hoa - Tra Vinh). Mechanization of agriculture also reduces the demand for local workers, whilst demand for house maids and sales support in urban areas is increasing, creating opportunities for Kh’mer women.

Most young people finishing secondary education (Duc Huong - Ha Tinh) or primary education (Thuan Hoa Tra Vinh) do not have the opportunity to continue their studies, so many migrate to the city to find work and help their families.

Better transport and new inter-provincial bus routes make it easy for migrant workers to return home (Duc Huong - Ha Tinh, Luong Minh - Nghe An, Cu Hue Dak Lak, Thuan Hoa - Tra Vinh).

Mobile phones mean people working away from home can easily connect with employers, job brokers, and family.

In Luong Minh - Nghe An, men want to avoid temptations such as drug use, and women want to find husbands elsewhere.

In coffee harvest season in the Central Highlands, farming season (weeding, planting, harvesting corns, cutting sugarcanes, picking cashew nuts), there is a big demand for unskilled workers, which are seasonal opportunities for people who have time available due to a lack of land for production, or those that can only harvest 1 season a year (Duc Huong - Ha Tinh, Thuan Hoa - Tra Vinh, Phuoc Dai - Ninh Thuan, Phuoc Thanh - Ninh Thuan).

After the global financial crisis in 2009, many companies went to rural areas, even far ethnic minority mountainous areas (Luong Minh - Nghe An), to recruit workers with little education.

Few ethnic minority mountainous people work away from home. Few have access to the social networks and information necessary to find work. As historically there have been few ethnic minority migrants there are no trusted and known contacts in low-lying areas. Some young people want to work away from home, but have to rely on unknown job brokers, which can be risky. Long distances and travel costs are also an obstacle. Traditional gender roles mean there are fewer ethnic minority migrant women. Married women rarely leave the house unaccompanied, and are expected to work at home, taking care of their husbands, children and household farms. Women tend also to be less educated and are less likely to speak Vietnamese (Box 5.3). The priority for selfsufficiency of food and under developed labour market in ethnic minority mountainous communities also discourages migration. In some villages, households with members working away from home and leaving their fields under-farmed are regarded as “lazy”.

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BOX 5.3. Reasons for not working away from home in Ban Lien commune (Bac Ha, Lao Cai) Few people of the Tay and H’Mong ethnic groups work as migrant workers for the following reasons: 1. Limited social relations, no broker. “There are no job brokers that we know so nobody can go anywhere. There are young people who want to go, but their parents do not want to lose children”. 2. No education, low skill. “The people in the town understand things quickly. We learn more slowly. In Ban Lien commune, there nobody has the skills to work in construction, so we just work as porters, carrying cement and bricks.” 3. Afraid of going too far. “It’s far from here to town. Women never go to the provincial centres. We don’t even have money for a bus ticket. It is said that it’s getting more expensive.” 4. Afraid of taking risks. “A few years ago some men working on construction sites were not paid for their labour. I’ve never seen anybody get rich after working away from home away.” 5. No tradition of migrant labour. “Here people are not used to working away from home. Our ancestors lived here. We miss home, and it will be a pity if our parents or children get ill and we can’t be around. Wives can’t handle that.” Gender impacts of working away from home

Remittances are a significant contribution to the rural economy. Many women send money home to cover family daily spending, house repair and upgrade and children’s education. In Cu Hue - Dak Lak, some families with people working away from home have escaped poverty. Low levels of migration mean mountainous ethnic minority areas receive few remittances. Wages of low skilled (mainly female) migrants in urban areas have not risen in line with living costs in the last 2-3 years. Increasing numbers of female migrants from Duc Huong - Ha Tinh and Thuan Hoa - Tra Vinh are working as sales assistants or house maids because they don’t have to pay for accommodation and meals, and wages are the same as low skilled workers (Table 5.2) TABLE 5.2. Comparison between regular and seasonal labour of people working away from home in Duc Huong (Ha Tinh) and Thuan Hoa (Cau Ngang, Tra Vinh), 2011. Regular worker

Seasonal worker

Type of work

Skilled worker, graduate working in companies and organizations.

Low skilled workers (garment, footwear, assembling, etc.)

Sales support, house maids

Place of work

Urban

Urban

Urban

Target groups

Equal number of men and women

More women than men

Women

Builders, mason, coffee harvest, cashew nut picking, weeding, harvesting corn, etc. Rural More men than women


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

Duration of work

12 months/year

12 months/year

10-12 months/year

3-4 months/year

Income

5 -7 million VND/month on average

2.5 - 3.5 million VND/month on average

2.5 - 3 million VND/ month on average

2.5 - 3 million VND/month on average

Accommodation

Rent a house, meal on their own

Rent a house, meal on their own

Covered by employer

Covered by employer

Economic contribution

Saving of 2 - 3 million VND/ month

Little saving, below 1 million VND/month, many don’t have savings.

Saving of 2 - 3 million VND/month

Saving of 2 - 3 million VND/ month

Women working away from home often save and remit more than men. Women often save and spend less on social networking than men. Men working away from home often spend more money on smoking, alcohol, coffee and networking. Working away from home can reduce domestic violence. Migrant work reduces the causes of domestic violence (such as gender biases, paternalism, economic difficulties, lack of social and legal understanding). Working away from home provides women with independence, so they have a greater role in the household, increasing their voice and position. Working away from home can also be a solution for victims of domestic violence. Working away from home creates more work for those who stay at home, and breaks the traditional gender division of labour. When men work away from home, women do tasks traditionally undertaken by men. Similarly, when women work away from home men do housework and take care of children. In some low-land villages in Thanh Xuong - Dien Bien and Cu Hue - Dak Lak, young people are working away from home, leading to shortage of labour during harvest season, so some people from neighbouring villages come to work. The “re-division of labour” between men and women and the lack of a young workforce has affected local labour structures. At Duc Huong - Ha Tinh and Thuan Hoa - Tra Vinh, the middle aged do farm and social work as the young tend to seek work elsewhere. The elderly have less support than before, and often have to look after grandchildren. In Duc Huong - Ha Tinh, many women attend village meetings (70% or more) because men are working away from home. In Thuan Hoa - Tra Vinh, in high harvest season, it is difficult to find labourers, so wages are often double the normal rate. Risks faced by migrant workers In ethnic minority mountainous areas, migrant workers face a number of risks. As migrant workers from ethnic minority communities don’t have access to an extensive social network or information as to where to find employment many depend on unknown employment brokers. As a result they often work in unsafe conditions, some have been cheated of their wages, others “sold” for work in brothels and even to China, and others work illegally (logging, for example). Of those able to return home, some have had to pay a “ransom”. Such experiences naturally discourages others from migrating in search of work. People working away from home in the informal sector do not have access to social security. Workers in the informal sector have no contracts, and do not have access to social insurance or health insurance. Migrants have limited support, and often

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depend on relationships with people from their home village or province when they get into trouble or have problems with the local authorities and their employers. Migrants working in the formal sector also encounter difficulties. Falling real wages mean migrant workers save less and remit less money home. Rising prices also cause tension in the work place. Many workers in small companies and workshops do not enjoy social benefits. Migrant workers rarely participate in activities organised by local communities or mass organizations. The role of trade unions in private and foreign invested enterprises is limited, and has not been able to serve as a representative voice of workers and to protect their benefits. Parents working away from home can disrupt their children’s education. In Cau Ngang - Tra Vinh, many migrant parents of Kh’mer ethnic groups take their children with them. Other children from poor households have to leave school to work to help their parents. Reports of missing women from ethnic minority groups, affects those who remain behind. In Luong Minh - Nghe An, since 2010 five people in Xop Mat village and sixteen in Cham Puong village have gone missing. Some apparently left for China.

5.2. Local casual jobs Trends Local casual jobs (for between a day and two weeks) are popular. In 2010, the percentage of people with local casual jobs (12%) is 1.5 times higher than those working away from home (8%). In mountainous ethnic minority communes, the number of people doing local casual jobs is much higher than the number of people working away from home. Local casual employment is unstable, seasonal and depends on the weather and the progress of construction work. In some areas, the number of casual construction jobs increased because of programmes to replace temporary houses and reclaim land (Thuan Hoa - Ha Giang, Ban Lien - Lao Cai). In other areas there are fewer jobs as construction projects are completed (Phuoc Dai - Ninh Thuan, Phuoc Thanh - Ninh Thuan), mechanization reduces the opportunities for the poor (Thuan Hoa - Tra Vinh) or less timber is transported (Xy- Quang Tri). In 2011, the Government issued Resolution 11 to cut public spending and many local construction projects have been delayed, postponed or cancelled. There are more local casual jobs for men than women. Most local job opportunities involve heavy labour (masonry, loading and unloading, carrying timber, carpentry). Where jobs are seasonal (planting rice, harvesting, weeding, planting rubber trees) both men and women can find work (Table 5.3).


Five-year Synthesis Report

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TABLE 5.3. Percent of people doing local casual jobs, 2011 (%) Commune Thuan Hoa Ban Lien Thanh Xuong

Male 18 3 25

Female 7 2 11

Average 13 2 19

Luong Minh

4

4

4

Duc Huong

3

2

3

Xy

21

13

17

Cu Hue Phuoc Dai Phuoc Thanh Thuan Hoa

15 10 3 33

15 5 3 26

15 8 3 29

Average

14

9

12

SOURCE: Households interviews

More poor households have local casual jobs than non-poor households at most monitoring points. Poor households often lack land for production, or only possess land without irrigation (producing only one crop per year), lack capital for investment in husbandry, but lack social network or have young children or old people that need care; so they choose to work as manual labourers near home.

Motivation for local casual jobs Local urban centres. People look for casual employment in local urban centres. For example, there are many Thai people in Thanh Xuong - Dien Bien looking for jobs in neighbouring Dien Bien Phu city, or Kh’mer people in Thuan Hoa - Tra Vinh looking for jobs at the neighbouring Cau Ngang town. Agricultural commodity areas. Plantations and large intensive farms tend to have a high demand for seasonal labour (coffee harvest in Cu Hue - Dak Lak, planting rice in Thanh Xuong - Dien Bien, cutting rice in Thuan Hoa - Tra Vinh). Where subsistence farming and labour exchange practises still dominate there is little demand for additional labour (Ban Lien - Lao Cai, Luong Minh - Nghe An, Duc Huong - Ha Tinh, Phuoc Thanh Ninh Thuan). Government and enterprise investment. Construction projects provide work for unskilled workers, although some ethnic minorities prefer farming, and only seek such jobs if absolutely necessary. Many people are not used to the working hours at construction sites or prefer to be paid daily rather than monthly (the norm in most construction sites). Wealthy households with land often hire local labours at the high season. Kinh people living in the mountainous areas who have land to plant fruit trees, industrial crops or animal husbandry (such as cassava, sugar cane in Phuoc Thanh - Ninh Thuan, raising cows, cassava, sugarcane, bananas in Phuoc Thanh - Ninh Thuan, coffee in Cu Hue - Dak Lak) are also important sources of employment.

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Gender impacts of local casual jobs Incomes are normally too low for people to save. Although the average wage for both men and women has increased over the past five years (from 20,000 - 30,000 VND/day in 2007 to 100,000 VND/day in 2011) as work is infrequent and unstable incomes often only cover daily expenditures and little is left for savings. An exception is Thanh Xuong - Dien Bien and Thuan Hoa - Tra Vinh where many people work as porters all year round, and incomes are higher than other areas. Men tend to earn higher wages, but contribute less to the household. Heavy labour commands a higher daily wage for men. However, as men often spend part of their wages on cigarettes, coffee, and drinking with friends they tend to contribute less to the household than women. Local casual jobs often reinforce traditional gender roles. Basically, local casual jobs often follow the model “men do heavy work, social work, while women do lighter works, work in the family”. When men do local casual jobs, women stay at home to take care of housework, children, and animal husbandry. “Husbands don’t do anything after going back home from work, we have to cook for them.” (Women group of Ma Du village, Phuoc Thanh - Ninh Thuan). In the case of women doing casual jobs, they still have to do all housework before going to work or after going back home from work.

Risks of local casual jobs Local casual jobs tend to be safe, but there are risks. These include exposure to “social evils” (working as a porter in Thanh Xuong - Dien Bien), receiving lower than agreed wages, (construction work in Ban Lien - Lao Cai), and accidents (timber transport in Xy - Quang Tri) (Box 5.4).

BOX 5.4. Risks of local casual jobs Ban Lien commune (Bac Ha - Lao Cai) received investments for various infrastructures in 2008, so many people of the Tay ethnic group went to work for such constructions. However, many of them were taken off their wages. In Doi 1 village, 7 men and 20 women work as masons at construction sites in the commune being ripped off their wage, of up to 3 months/person, at 40,000 - 50,000 VND/ day. The reason was that the constructor left the construction due to high price and losses, leaving behind machinery and construction materials. Because of this, many households were in debt of up to hundreds of thousands of VND to local sellers (debt rarely happened before, but now since there are additional incomes, people borrow more with the hope that the additional income can compensate the debt). Local sellers also suffered as some constructors didn’t pay their debt. In Xy commune (Huong Hoa, Quang Tri), a job that brings a significant income to households is timber transport in Laos, but this job is very heavy and risky. Van Kieu ethnic minority men often have to carry 50 - 60 kilos in the forest for 3-4 days consecutively. They often face risk of accidents during rains, (sometimes with broken limbs, or pain), being bitten by insects, or high fever. Some people were arrested and so had to pay a fine to get back home.

5.3. Labour export Few people from the monitoring points have joined labour export programmes. In 2011, there were labour export programmes run by the district Labour - Invalids and


Five-year Synthesis Report

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Social Affairs Division in five of ten surveyed communes: four people in Phuoc Thanh Ninh Thuan, two in Thanh Xuong - Dien Bien, three in Duc Huong - Ha Tinh, one in Ban Lien -Lao Cai and fifteen in Luong Minh - Nghe An. The majority of ethnic minority workers who participate in labour export programmes are men. Fewer women participate because of limited education, traditional gender roles and a lack of information.

Policy to support labour export Two major policies support labour export: Decision 365 of the State Bank of Viet Nam that provides loans to workers27 and Programme 30a28 (under Decision 71) to support labour export. Risk in borrowing for labour export. According to Decision 365 households can borrow funds in order to send members to work abroad. Popular destinations are Malaysia, Taiwan, and Korea. In Thuan Hoa - Tra Vinh, the first workers went abroad in 2004, and many followed in 2006 - 2007. However, since late 2008, incomes have fallen and many workers can no longer service their loans. Many have returned home ahead of schedule. Limited application of Programme 30a. According to Decision 71, exported labour can receive: (i) support for education; (ii) vocational training and foreign language training; (iii) support in obtaining health checks, passports and visas and necessary legal documentation; (iv) risks support; (v) preferential credit; (vi) counselling and help finding work on return. However, Programme 30a was inadequately implemented at all surveyed districts in which it was in operation, (Bac Ha - Lao Cai, Tuong Duong - Nghe An, Bac Ai - Nghe Tinh). The most significant reported issues were: •

Information was not widely disseminated among the communities, so many people do not understand labour export support policies. Staff from the Bac Ai Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Division said “most exported labourers are children of commune and village cadres. Only local officials understand the policy. Not many people know about it. Many are afraid of sending their children to strange places with strange people, without knowing the language and so maybe they can’t go back home.”

Labourers have not received the support with their education. According to Decision 71, “labour from poor households, households from ethnic minority groups with primary education or higher chosen as exported labour whose education does not meet requirements” will receive support for further education. In reality, those chosen as exported labour have completed secondary education, as companies involved are afraid that less educated workers cannot meet job requirements.

Foreign language courses are only one to three months long, insufficient time for workers from ethnic groups to achieve sufficient language proficiency.

Service companies provide training and other activities. District and commune authorities only register workers, and know little of their actual situation. As a result it is difficult for them to provide support if something goes wrong.

Support and insurance is insufficient. If workers have to return home because of health problems they only receive 5 million VND and return tickets. However, they must still repay any loans. Fear of indebtedness dissuades many households from sending their children abroad.

27 Decision 365/QD-NHNN dated 3/4/2004 of the Governor of the State Bank. 28 Decision 71/QD-TTg dated 29/4/2009 of the Prime Minister.

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6. IMPROVING ACCESS TO EDUCATION Education to improve the quality of human resources is vital to sustainable rural poverty reduction in the future. This section presents people’s feedback on the quality of education, based on quantitative survey through the “citizen report card” methodology, in combination with qualitative information through group discussions and in-depth interviews with representatives of schools and students’ parents at the monitoring points in late 2011.

6.1. Level of Access Distance to and time spent at school It is easier for students to go to school. Schools and transport has improved in the last five years. At commune centres there are nurseries, primary schools, and secondary schools. All are well built and some reach national standards. There are nurseries and primary schools in all remote areas, so travel times are often less than fifteen minutes. Most lower secondary schools are located at commune centres, so travel times are slightly higher, at around 30 minutes. In some remote areas secondary school students may travel for an hour. Upper secondary schools are in district centres or commune cluster centres. In communes near district centres or commune cluster centres, or in low lying areas, travelling times are between 30 and 60 minutes. For remote areas, the distance to school is between 15-30 kilometres (such as Thuan Hoa - Ha Giang, Ban Lien - Lao Cai, Luong Minh - Nghe An, Xy - Quang Tri, Phuoc Thanh - Ninh Thuan), and it takes half a day to walk to school, or 1-2 hours by motorbike. Such distances are an important reason for low attendance at upper secondary schools in remote and mountainous communes.

Semi-boarding education In pre-school, the percentage of semi-boarding students is high at all monitoring points: between 90 and 95% (except in Phuoc Dai - Ninh Thuan and Phuoc Thanh - Ninh Thuan). Typically parents provide lunches for students. Semi-boarding is popular in remote mountainous communes (Thuan Hoa - Ha Giang, Ban Lien - Lao Cai, Luong Minh - Nghe An, Phuoc Dai - Ninh Thuan and Phuoc Thanh - Ninh Thuan), especially for secondary students who have to travel to district centres (about 26% of upper secondary students are semi-boarding students at all ten monitoring points; 80 -100% at Thuan Hoa - Ha Giang and Luong Minh - Nghe An). Many schools now have new, well built semi-boarding rooms, reducing costs for students who would otherwise have to rent local accommodation, or whose parents would have to repair old semi-boarding facilities. In mountainous ethnic minority areas semi-boarding has reduced the number of students quitting school, and increased attendance rates to over 95%. In specially disadvantaged mountainous ethnic minority areas, the state provides support to semi-boarding students at primary and secondary schools (Decision 85/2010/QD TTg). Some provinces have their own additional support policies (Box 6.1) and some schools have mobilized community and philanthropic resources to improve student’s living conditions.


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BOX 6.1. Ha Giang’s additional support to semi-boarding students Ha Giang is a northern mountainous province with strong deployment of the semiboarding education model. Ha Giang has its own support policies which are better than the national policies. In December 2010, the Prime Minister issued Decision 85/2010/QD - TTg to support students in ethnic minorities’ semi-boarding schools in specially disadvantaged areas, with the meal allowance equalling to 40% of the minimum salary, and housing support equal to 10% of the minimum salary, provided for no more than nine months per student. In July 2011, Ha Giang People’s Council issued a Resolution 22/2011/NQ-HDND on supporting semi-boarding students not supported under Decision 85/2010/QDTTg. Accordingly, Ha Giang province supports semi-boarding students from ethnic minorities and disadvantaged areas: •

Supporting upper secondary students from ethnic minorities, from disadvantaged and specially disadvantaged areas who are semi-boarding at public schools, with meal allowance equal to 20% of the minimum wage and the accommodation allowance of 10% of the minimum wage.

Supporting primary students and lower secondary students from ethnic minorities, from disadvantaged and specially disadvantaged areas who are semiboarding at public schools, with meal allowance equal to 20% of the minimum wage.

The Resolution also provides support for staff managing semi-boarding students (30% of the minimum wage) and staff supporting semi-boarding students (100% of the minimum wage).

Out of school children. The proportion of primary school age children out of school is low (Table 6.1). All children attend first grade. The ratio of “out of school”29 boys to girls is equal at most monitoring points. In some cases more boys are out of school. The percentage of out of school children at the lower secondary education age is high, and even increasing at upper secondary education age at some monitoring points. Most children who quit do so after leaving primary school, or between lower secondary and upper secondary level. In disadvantaged mountainous ethnic minority areas, only 20-30% of students stay on until upper secondary school (Ban Lien - Lao Cai, Luong Minh - Nghe An, Phuoc Dai - Ninh Thuan and Phuoc Thanh - Ninh Thuan). In some areas attendance rates are low, particularly during floods, local festivals and harvests. Some children also support their parents on the family farm, or by taking care of younger siblings.

29 “Out of school children” are children who have never gone to school or have quit school. The education sector only collects statistic of children quitting schools in the middle of education (compare the number of entries and exits) so the number of “out of school children” here may be higher than that of the education sector.

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TABLE 6.1. Percent of out of school children, 2007 - 2011 (%) Commune

6-10 years of age

11-14 years of age

15-20 years of age

2007

2011

2007

2011

2007

2011

Thuan Hoa

3

7

4

4

25

30

Ban Lien

3

3

6

9

72

83

Thanh Xuong

0

0

0

0

42

22

Luong Minh

3

0

23

16

70

76

Duc Huong

12

0

0

0

28

16

Xy

34

4

13

13

71

63

Cu Hue

11

0

11

17

60

59

Phuoc Dai

14

7

11

35

39

65

Phuoc Thanh

19

27

28

26

58

73

Thuan Hoa

0

0

30

13

72

79

Average

12

5

13

15

54

59

Source: Households interviews

Household interviews revealed four main reasons for non-attendance: “lack of money”, “doesn’t like schooling”, “not doing well at school” and “staying at home to help parents”. Other factors include: children are more interested in games, households have too many children, parents are illiterate or ignorant, children want to earn money, children accompany parents to work away from home (especially Kh’mer children), working with parents on the farm, marrying early, are shy because they start school late (mostly girls from ethnic minorities) or are from disadvantaged families. In some ethnic minority mountainous areas, more boys go to school, especially lower secondary level upward, because girls stay at home to do the housework. In some matriarchal communities such as the Ede and Raglai some men still think it is the responsibility of the mother to educate the children.

6.2. People’s feedback on educational service Facilities School facilities have significantly improved over the past five years thanks to investment from projects and programs, such as Programme 135 - phase 2, Programme 30a and the Programme to improve school buildings30. In the 2010/11 school year some schools received funds to build semi-boarding dormitories according to Decision 85/QD-TTg (Thuan Hoa - Ha Giang, Ban Lien - Lao Cai). More than 80% of respondents at the monitoring points considered schools facilities “good” or “relatively good”. However, school facilities in ethnic minority mountainous communes are still limited. Many primary and secondary schools do not have offices, health care rooms, libraries, semi-boarding rooms, separate latrines for girls and boys, or teaching aids such as computers, projectors, and laboratory equipment. Some schools in remote areas still have bamboo walls, earth floors, and temporary tables and chairs. 30 According to Decision 20/2008/QD-TTg dated 1 February 2008 of the Prime Minister.


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Curriculum Parents and teachers are responding to the policy to lower school workload31. According to this policy, teachers are in charge of allocating the amount and content of lessons (within the confines of the curriculum) according to the level of student comprehension. In ethnic minority mountainous communes, students are spending more time studying maths and languages at the expense of other subjects such as arts and crafts. The majority of respondents (64%) think that the curriculum and content of education is “proper” (although it’s difficult for the parents to evaluate this and many said they didn’t understand the issue).

Teaching methodology and teachers’ expertise and behaviour Most parents are positive about the teachers. Table 6.2 shows that parents value the quality of teachers’ interaction with students. Although ratings were high for teaching methodologies and subject matter understanding, most parents have little knowledge of these areas. In specially disadvantaged communes, such as Luong Minh - Nghe An, Phuoc Dai - Ninh Thuan and Phuoc Thanh - Ninh Thuan, more than 50% of respondent replied “don’t know” when asked about the teachers’ teaching methodologies and subject matter understanding. TABLE 6.2. Parents’ feedback on teachers, 2011 Commune

The ratio of “good” or “relatively good” (%) Teaching methodology

Subject matter understanding

Behaviour toward students

Thuan Hoa

86

87

95

Ban Lien

81

80

100

Thanh Xuong

85

86

100

Luong Minh

26

22

74

Duc Huong

93

90

100

Xy

92

92

94

Cu Hue

93

95

95

Phuoc Dai

47

48

85

Phuoc Thanh

36

36

94

Thuan Hoa

96

96

97

Average

74

73

94

SOURCE: Households interviews

There have been improvements in teaching methodologies, but less so in mountainous areas. In low lying areas dominated by the Kinh people, teachers have been partially applying “active learning” and “student-centred” methods, such as ‘streaming’ students according to their understanding of different subjects, using projectors, and increased group work. According to teachers in ethnic minority mountainous communes there has been some progress in the application of new teaching methods, but generally 31 According to instruction 3398/CT-BGDDT dated August 12, 2011 and Document 5842/BGDDT-VP dated September 01, 2011 of Ministry of Education and Training.


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traditional teaching methods dominate. Teacher rotation in ethnic minority mountainous areas has a negative impact on the quality of teaching and learning. Few teachers from low lying areas want to live and work in ethnic minority mountainous areas for more than three to five years. In especially disadvantaged communes teachers enjoy a hardship allowance (on top of a preferential salary) for five years. Few teachers want to stay on without the allowance. Salaries for short term teachers in mountainous areas are low. To overcome the shortage of teachers, some schools in specially disadvantaged ethnic minority mountainous areas have employed teachers on short term contracts. The low pay (on average about 1.2 million VND/month, about 20 - 30% that of those in the long term payroll) leads to uncertainly among temporary teachers. The use of “nominated teachers” is a challenge in monitoring communes in ethnic minority mountainous areas (Xy - Quang Tri, Cu Hue - Dak Lak, Phuoc Dai Ninh Thuan and Phuoc Thanh - Ninh Thuan). Nominated teachers are usually teachers from local ethnic minority groups who have completed lower secondary schools with an additional two years of pedagogic training. However, school managers often comment that as their teaching skills and overall participation in school activities are limited. Thus in some places, the nominated teachers are only allowed to teach minor subjects, such as physical exercise, first grade ethnic minority languages or do office work.

Students’ learning quality Educational outcomes have improved. The campaign “Toward friendly schools and active learners” launched by the Ministry of Education and Training has been effective. Many schools have introduced concrete measures to improve the quality of learning, such as organizing extra classes in summer and at the beginning of the school year, providing special classes for weaker students and introducing a more realistic workload for ethnic minorities. The majority of students now attend lessons commensurate with their ability. There are challenges to education quality, which requires efforts from the schools, families and society, as well as renewed learning and teaching methods. According to the current assessment system, the proportion of students reaching the “creditable and outstanding” level in the ethnic minority mountainous communes is low and is only slowly improving. Some students at lower secondary schools but can’t read or write fluently and have poor numeracy skills. Teachers have to teach primary level knowledge to secondary students, and few students go on to upper secondary school. Some ethnic minority students also struggle to communicate and learn in Vietnamese (Table 6.3). Students’ different abilities in communes with mixed ethnic groups provides a difficult challenge for teachers.


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

TABLE 6.3. Parents’ feedback on difficulties in communication with teachers and getting knowledge by the national language, 2011 (%) Commune

Not difficult

Slightly difficult

Very difficult

Don’t know

Thuan Hoa

14

77

9

0

Ban Lien

57

35

5

3

Thanh Xuong

72

28

0

0

Luong Minh

12

64

20

4

Duc Huong

100

0

0

0

Xy

16

56

26

2

Cu Hue

47

37

16

0

Phuoc Dai

36

36

2

26

Phuoc Thanh

43

26

0

31

Thuan Hoa

72

17

5

6

Average

41

40

9

10

SOURCE: Households interviews

“Bilingual teaching” and using “teachers’ support staff” are two methods to overcome the language barriers for the ethnic minorities’ primary students. However, “bilingual teaching” in the ethnic minority mountainous areas is currently difficult due to limited funding, and shortages of teachers and materials. The “Teachers’ Support Staff” programme was highly praised by communities and schools, but finished in 2010 after funding from the World Bank ended (Box 6.2).

BOX 6.2. The initiative “teachers’ support staff” at the remote villages should be maintained At the monitoring points in ethnic minority mountainous areas, bilingual teaching (in Vietnamese and local dialects) are not a common practice. Among the ten monitoring points, only Cu Hue - Dak Lak has two classes in the Ede language. Although the Ede parents highly praise these classes, the Ede students themselves are not so eager. While the bilingual teaching is encountering difficulties, the use of “teachers’ support staff” by the “Primary Education for Disadvantaged Children” Project (PEDC - funded by the World Bank to implement in 226 districts of 40 provinces) at the remote villages is a practical solution. The “teachers’ support staff” are local ethnic minority people, and can serve as a bridge linking teachers, families and the local community, can encourage children to go to school, prepare lessons and teaching aids, and work as interpreters during the lecturing. In some monitoring points with a high number of ethnic minorities’ children, the teachers are rotating and so they don’t know the local language, and so the “teachers’ support staff” initiative is highly valued by the community and schools in removing language barriers for children from ethnic minorities. The PEDC Project ended in 2010, so there were no more “teachers’ support staff”. Those having been employed as teachers’ support staff say that they want to continue this job, and want to continue their study so that they can work as teachers in the future. Maintaining this model is a recommendation of all schools at the monitoring points that have participated in the PEDC project.

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Family - School relations The relations between families and schools have been improving, thanks to teachers’ enthusiasm, and the improved understanding of the local cadres and parents on the importance of education. Teachers say that attendance at parents’ meetings is over 90% at pre-school and primary schools, and 90% for lower secondary schools in lowlying communes and 70-80% in mountainous communes. At Ban Lien - Lao Cai, parents meetings have been combined with the distribution of students’ allowances or market day, which has improved the attendance rate. The development of the communications systems have also enabled better contact between teachers and students’ families. However, in ethnic minority mountainous communes, the relationship between families and schools is weaker (Table 6. 4). TABLE 6.4. Parents’ feedbacks on family - school relations, 2011 Commune

Number of attendance at schools meetings last year 3 2 1 time No times times

Regularly receiving information about the students’ performance (%)

Reprehensive board can reflect the parent’s wishes (%)

56 33 32

Thuan Hoa Ban Lien Thanh Xuong

60 50 65

33 43 32

7 7 3

0 0 0

71 23 53

Luong Minh

19

42

39

0

19

3

Duc Huong

18

61

21

0

50

25

Xy

6

40

54

0

15

38

Cu Hue Phuoc Dai Phuoc Thanh

64 24 11

33 48 39

3 12 28

0 16 22

39 21 28

57 31 28

Thuan Hoa Average

35 36

54 42

11 19

0 3

42 36

42 36

SOURCE: Households interviews

The role of Parents’ Representative Boards is not highly valued. Table 6.4 shows that the proportion of households who think that the boards reflect their wishes is highest in Thuan Hoa - Ha Giang and Cu Hue - Dak Lak, but is still only 60%. Most households think the boards are only formal. Some even think that the boards representing the better off parents, and have little relevance to poor households.

Cost of education Parents in mountainous areas appreciate the State’s support for their children’s’ education, particularly free schooling, free books and notebooks, learning aids, and cash transfers. More than 80% of households in mountainous areas receive support. Schools in mountainous areas do not often expect cash contributions from parents, but often require small in-kind contributions (such as rice and wood for semi-boarding students). High extra costs are causing difficulties for parents in low-lying communes dominated by the Kinh (Thanh Xuong - Dien Bien, Duc Huong - Ha Tinh, Cu Hue - Dak


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

Lak). A significant number of parents “disapprove” of the requested contributions (12% in Thanh Xuong - Dien Bien, 25% in Duc Huong - Ha Tinh and 45% in Cu Hue - Dak Lak). Demanded contributions are high for schools that are looking to reach national standards. Whilst many contributions are not mandatory, most parents think that if they do not pay their children will not receive equal treatment. The rising cost of education at upper secondary level and above is becoming a burden for the poor, in both the low-lying areas and the ethnic minority mountainous areas. In suburban areas, with a mixture of Kinh and ethnic minorities, contributions of 1 - 2 million VND/year (excluding the cost of extra classes) is a burden for poor households. In mountainous communes, upper secondary students have to go to district centres for education. Many students have to pay for accommodation as schools lack semi-boarding facilities. Monthly living costs can be as much as 1,000,000 VND/month (excluding school fees and rice brought from home). As a result secondary school students in ethnic minority mountainous areas tend to be those from well off families. Most families who send their children to college or university have to take out loans. In Duc Huong - Ha Tinh, students going to Vinh City for University spend about 12-16 million VND/year or about 20 -25 million VND if studying in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Some families with children at university are often categorized as poor so that they can receive preferential loans.

Extra classes Extra classes are popular at better off communes. In low-lying communes near urban areas (Thanh Xuong - Dien Bien, Cu Hue - Dak Lak, Duc Huong - Ha Tinh) approximately 50% of households have children attending extra classes (more than 80% in Duc Huong Ha Tinh). Students often study maths, physics, chemistry and foreign languages at 20,000 - 30,000 VND/session two or three times a week. Parents are afraid that without such sessions “children cannot get enough knowledge”. Some parents think that their children will not receive proper attention from their teachers if they do not attend the extra classes. In the specially disadvantaged ethnic minority mountainous areas, children often follow schools’ extra programmes. Teachers supplement the main curriculum with additional classes for struggling students and Vietnamese language sessions for ethnic minority students (Xy- Quang Tri, Phuoc Dai - Ninh Thuan and Phuoc Thanh - Ninh Thuan). In Duc Huong - Ha Tinh, after prolonged flooding when students had to stay at home teachers provided extra classes so that students can catch up with others.

6.3. Suggestions for improving educational service Table 6.5 shows that most parents give priority to facilities and teaching aids, especially in ethnic minority mountainous communes (Thuan Hoa - Ha Giang, Ban Lien Lao Cai, Luong Minh - Nghe An, Xy - Quang Tri). Improving relations between schools and families is also highly valued. Reducing or removing contributions, especially extra fees, are mentioned in the Kinh dominated low-lying areas (Thanh Xuong - Dien Bien, Cu Hue - Dak Lak, Thuan Hoa - Tra Vinh). In ethnic minority mountainous communes most interviewees focused on removing contributions for poor students. Households did not comment much on the curriculum, content of education, or quality of teaching. Most households found the quality of provided education “Highly satisfactory” or “Satisfactory”. However, in ethnic minority mountainous communes people are not used to being asked about the quality of education or other public services so their responses should be treated with caution.

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TABLE 6.5. Households’ proposal to improve educational service, 2011 (%) Commune

Improve schools - families relations

Improve teaching contents, curriculum

Teaching quality

Teachers’ More sup- Reducing Removing behaviour port to or remov- contributo students facilities, ing contri- tions for teaching butions poor stuand learndents ing aids

Other

Thuan Hoa

22

23

7

0

82

66

68

5

Ban Lien

56

32

0

9

71

15

44

0

Thanh Xuong

89

40

17

6

40

51

34

0

Luong Minh

84

13

3

3

87

29

61

0

Duc Huong

46

61

25

11

43

39

25

7

Xy

45

36

32

0

85

26

39

0

Cu Hue

49

23

5

18

39

77

41

3

Phuoc Dai

64

14

0

17

50

14

31

0

Phuoc Thanh

67

14

8

22

39

6

36

14

Thuan Hoa

69

23

8

12

42

50

69

4

Average

57

27

11

9

59

37

45

3

SOURCE: Households interview

Teachers suggested a number of proposals to improve education at the monitoring points: • Develop special curriculums for students in some ethnic minority mountainous areas and areas suffering from regular natural disasters • Improve the quality of nominated teachers from ethnic groups with training and mentoring • Resume successful initiatives such as “staff supporting teachers” • Organize a 36 session class for children before 1st Grade • Increase the number of staff on the official payroll at the extremely difficult areas • Provide additional support for teachers working in remote and difficult communes such as travel allowance.


Five-year Synthesis Report

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7. IMPROVING ACCESS TO AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE

111

Agriculture, Forestry and Aquaculture extension services (called “agricultural extension services” in general) can help reduce poverty in rural areas. This section part presents feedback on extension services from the monitoring points at the end of 2011, based on a quantitative survey in combination with group discussions and in-depth interviews with agricultural extension services agencies and beneficiaries.

7.1. Level of access to agricultural extension services A significant number of households have access to basic agricultural extension services, although the number accessing in-depth services is not high. About half (52%) of the interviewed households accessed at least one agricultural extension service in the previous 12 months, a similar proportion to 2007. The three most popular services were “Training” (77%), “monitoring and dealing with diseases, immunization for animals” (41%) and “providing subsidized plants, animals, fertilizer” (40%). However, the number of households participating in “demonstration model” or “agricultural extension services clubs, groups of community support” is low (11% and 16% respectively). Women from both poor and non-poor households participate less in extension services (Table 7.1). Nevertheless, the proportion of women participating in agricultural extension services has increased over past five years. However, in ethnic minority mountainous communes many still believe that men will benefit more from extension services than women because they “get technical knowledge” better and “have better social contacts”. In low-lying areas with Kinh domination, such as Thanh Xuong - Dien Bien and Duc Huong - Ha Tinh, there are sometimes more women than men participating in agricultural extension services as there is less of a gender bias and many men are migrant workers. TABLE 7.1. “In your family, who attends agricultural extension service training the most?” 2011 (%) Commune

Husband

Wife

Son

Daughter

Others

Thuan Hoa

74

21

5

0

0

Ban Lien

79

7

14

0

0

Thanh Xuong

27

49

3

9

12

Luong Minh

62

23

0

15

0

Duc Huong

46

54

0

0

0

Xy

74

19

8

0

0

Cu Hue

65

31

0

4

0

Phuoc Dai

82

6

0

12

0

Phuoc Thanh

87

4

4

4

0

Thuan Hoa

62

31

0

0

8

Average

63

27

4

4

2

SOURCE: Households interviews


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7.2. Feedback on agricultural extension services Content of agricultural extension services Training has improved, but effectiveness is not high (Table 7.2). Training sessions lasting for a day or half a day are often held in communes or village centres. Classes have illustrative videos and pictures, and involve interaction between trainers and trainees. However, there is little time for practice. In ethnic minority mountainous areas the language of instruction is Vietnamese, and some have difficulty following sessions. Training themes are also occasionally repetitive, and some only attend to receive their “allowance” rather than to learn. TABLE 7.2. Feedback on understanding and applicability of agricultural extension service trainings, 2011 (%) Commune

“Understand all” or “Understand most”

“Remember all” or “Remember most”

“Apply all” or “Apply most”

Non poor

Poor

Non poor

Poor

Non poor

Poor

Thuan Hoa Ban Lien Thanh Xuong

59 33 82

100 63 77

59 17 64

100 63 64

53 17 64

100 38 59

Luong Minh Duc Huong

27 82

100 100

27 88

50 92

18 74

50 83

Xy

33

53

36

59

47

41

Cu Hue Phuoc Dai Phuoc Thanh Thuan Hoa Average

93 21 80 48

76 100 75 100 77

7 5 80 41

68 50 75 75 69

13 5 20 41

64 50 75 63 60

SOURCE: Household interviews

Many people, particularly those from ethnic minorities, appreciate practical training sessions (Box 7.1). However, according to agricultural extension services agencies, a lack of funds and human resources means there are few such sessions.


Five-year Synthesis Report

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Box 7.1. IPM Training - “We should have more of those” In 2011, ADDA in conjunction with the Farmers’ Union of Thanh Xuong - Dien Bien organized an IPM class on the Chinese pea at Pa Dong village. More than 30 women from the Thai ethnic group attended, of which 13 were from poor households. Classes were one morning a week from March until June. They included 30 minutes of theory, and practical demonstrations in a garden borrowed from a trainee. Trainees learnt how to prepare soil, apply fertilizer and prevent insects. Even those from the Thai ethnic group who were illiterate were able to learn. The head of the Pa Dong village Women’s Union reported that about 50% of participants continue to plant Chinese pea for their own consumption and sale. --- “It’s hard to remember if someone just talks out of a book. IPM force people to work, to water and catch the insect, so it’s easier to remember. We know when to put the fertilizer. This is the first time we had practical class like this. It’s good to have more classes on raising pigs and ducks.” (L.T.H, a poor women from the Thai ethnic group, with grade 2 education) Communication on agricultural extension services is more diverse, but more attention should be paid to direct communication at the grassroots level. Information on agricultural extension services is delivered to the people through various channels, such as TV, radio, books, newspapers, leaflets, bulletins and village meetings. In addition, with the support of various projects, some new types of communications have been tested, such as the “information kiosk” funded by DANIDA in Eakar, Dak Lak, and “market place agricultural extension services” funded by Oxfam in Lao Cai . TV programs on agricultural extension services, including those in ethnic languages provide updated information and have wide coverage. Some interviewees highly value TV programs on agricultural extension services. However, for various reasons (busy, little understanding of Kinh language, prefer entertainment programs) only 23% of respondents watched agricultural extension services “regularly”. Most watched “occasionally” or “rarely” (67%), and some “never” watched (10%). About half of the respondents had received agricultural extension materials in the previous 12 months. However, people in ethnic minority mountainous areas are not used to written information. Interviews revealed that most people prefer to “ask the village cadre” (57%), “ask local agricultural extension staff” (53%) and “ask the seller and agencies” (43%). Only 13% “consult materials, books and newspapers”. Demonstration models need to be more suitable to local conditions and farming practices of poor ethnic minority households. Demonstration models are an important tool for agricultural extension, and is an opportunity for farmers to “train themselves” in applying technology and increasing their income. There have been a number of successful models that were replicated by the farmers, particularly the more well off group (high quality rice in Thuan Hoa - Tra Vinh, hybrid rice in Phuoc Dai - Ninh Thuan, hybrid corn in Thuan Hoa - Ha Giang, micro bio fertilizer in Cu Hue - Dak La, and black carp and duck in Thanh Xuong - Dien Bien). However, take up by the poor has not been so successful. As poor farmers lack resources for intensive farming, they tend to use labour intensive techniques on steep land. In many cases techniques applied in low lying areas are not suited to ethnic minority mountainous areas. As a result farmers appreciate models that are based on local conditions and that adapt standard models to reduce labour and minimize inputs. Table 7.3 shows that only a small portion of the population interviewed at the monitoring points think that knowledge and methods introduced by agricultural extension services are suited to their own conditions.

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TABLE 7.3. Feedbacks on the suitability of knowledge, methods introduced by agricultural extension services, 2011 (%) Communes

Suitable

Reasonably suitable

Not suitable

Don’t know

Thuan Hoa

7

82

0

11

Ban Lien Thanh Xuong

15 8

77 92

0 0

8 0

Luong Minh

8

54

8

31

Duc Huong

16

82

2

0

Xy

45

47

6

2

Cu Hue Phuoc Dai

27 6

65 65

0 0

8 29

Phuoc Thanh

22

30

9

39

Thuan Hoa Average

22 20

61 68

11 3

6 9

SOURCE: Households interviews.

Weak agricultural extension counselling and services. At the monitoring points, the supply of materials is the most popular activity of the local extensionists. Services related to the sale of products, linking farmers with enterprises, advice on production organization, management and planning are limited, although there is a high demand for them. The provision of fee-based agricultural extension services at monitoring points in ethnic minority mountainous areas is not feasible.

Agricultural extension organization There are now more agricultural extension staff. Between 2007 and 2011 the number of communes with agricultural extension staff increased from five to nine; and the number of communes with agricultural extension staff at the village level increased from four to eight. In communes that benefited from Program 30a, such as Ban Lien Lao Cai, Luong Minh - Nghe An, Phuoc Dai and Phuoc Thanh - Ninh Thuan, university educated reinforcement staff have provided communes with additional resources for agricultural extension services. However most local agricultural extension staff have low capacity. Most are young, and have only completed upper secondary school. There are few intensive or in-depth training courses for the local staff. Table 7.4 also shows that most people interviewed feel that the level of knowledge of local agricultural extension is “normal”.


Five-year Synthesis Report

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TABLE 7.4. Local people’s feedbacks on the knowledge and behaviour of commune/village agricultural extension staff, 2011 (%) Communes

Knowledge Good

Normal

Not good

Behaviour Don’t know

Good

Normal

Not good

Don’t know

Thuan Hoa

21

79

0

0

54

46

0

0

Ban Lien

15

77

3

5

72

23

0

5

Thanh Xuong

10

82

0

8

24

67

0

10

Luong Minh

46

31

15

8

54

31

8

8

Duc Huong

41

48

7

5

82

18

0

0

Xy

55

38

8

0

75

15

9

0

Cu Hue

46

46

4

4

50

42

4

4

Phuoc Dai

12

47

6

35

38

56

0

6

Phuoc Thanh

13

39

4

43

52

35

9

4

Thuan Hoa

56

33

0

11

78

22

0

0

Average

31

56

4

9

59

34

3

4

SOURCE: Households interviews

Working attitude of agricultural extension staff are appreciated. Most local residents considered staff behaviour to be “good” (Table 7.4); most have “enthusiasm at work” and are “friendly with the people”. Coming from the same ethnic group and living in the same location, the agricultural extension staff can be a bridge linking people and commune and district agricultural extension staff, especially in remote villages. There are few agricultural extension services clubs and they do not play a major role. The clubs are designed for people to exchange information and are the focal points for rural agricultural extension services. According to respondents and agricultural extension staff the clubs’ ineffectiveness is due to the fact that they do not meet the demands of the people, are not attractive to members and lack regular support from the authorities, mass organizations and the agricultural extension services. Socialization of agricultural extension services have been widespread. In areas where commodity production is developed, enterprises organise seminars to demonstrate their models and projects and shops selling agricultural products, especially insecticides, provide advice. However, at some monitoring points, enterprises and shops sell low quality and out of date products that sometimes cause harm.

Agricultural extension policies

115


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Agricultural extension services have limited budgets. Farmers, especially poor people in difficult areas, are enjoy benefits when they participate in agricultural extension services, such as subsidised attendance at agricultural extension trainings and discounts on the price of seeds and essential materials for demonstration models. However, a district agricultural extension unit has an annual budget of 30 - 50 million VND for training, modelling and communications. Allowances for agricultural extension staff at villages are low. In Luong Minh Nghe An, Duc Huong - Ha Tinh, the allowance for agricultural extension staff is 50,000 VND/month, and 120,000 VND/month in Cu Hue - Dak Lak (Table 7.5), lower than local daily wages. Only two villages agreed to use the village fund to provide additional support to agricultural extension staff. The low allowance is one reason for the low effectiveness of the agricultural extension staff. TABLE 7.5. The network of agricultural extension staff at monitoring points, 2011 Commune Thuan Hoa

Number 15

Ethnic group 8 H’Mong, 3 Dao, 4 Tay

Gender 100% male

Monthly allowance 0.4 minimum wage

Ban Lien

9

5 Tay, 4 H’Mong

100% male

400,000 VND

Thanh Xuong

0

-

-

-

Luong Minh

10

6 Thai, 4 Khmu

100% male

50,000 VND

Duc Huong

8

100% Kinh

1 female, 7 male

50,000 VND

Xy

6

100% Van Kieu

100% male

150,000 VND

Cu Hue

7

100% Ede

3 female, 4 male

120,000 VND

Phuoc Dai

5

4 Raglai, 1 Co Ho

1 female, 4 male

1,0 minimum wage

Phuoc Thanh

5

100% Raglai

100% male

1,0 minimum wage

Thuan Hoa

0

-

-

-

SOURCE: Commune cadres.

In Eakar district (Dak Lak), since the end of 2010, the district agricultural extension unit has encouraged village agricultural extension staff to conduct demonstrations with the direct technical support of the district unit, by advancing ten months of allowances (from 1.2 - 1.5 million VND). Twenty-eight of 34 villages registered for the model. Some successful models have improved the effectiveness of the agricultural extension staff, and raising their profile in the communities. In addition, some agricultural extension staff in Eakar also receive support to conduct fertilization service for cows and pigs (receiving trainings, certificate of “fertilization staff” and a set of equipment including a container and a fertilization gun worth 10 million VND) so that they have additional income and feel attached to the job. There are no agricultural extension funds at the monitoring points. Such funds, promoted by Decree 02/2010/ND - CP, are designed to attract sponsorship and voluntary donations from domestic and foreign organizations and individuals.


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

7.3. Suggestions for improvement of agricultural extension services Table 7.6 shows that the three proposals favoured by the people to improve agricultural extension services are “enhancing capacity and knowledge of agricultural extension staff”, “agricultural extension services should be provided on time to help people in need” and “increasing the support to poor people when participating in agricultural extension services.” The preference of “timeliness” by the people in monitoring points in ethnic minority mountainous areas suggest that the function of “advising, facilitating, working together with farmers” (besides the function of technology transfer) should be enhanced, including the role of the grassroots agricultural extension services network. TABLE 7.6. People’s recommendations to improve local agricultural extension services, 2011 (%) Commune

Improving the capacity and knowledge of agricultural extension staff

The staff Renewing Renewing Timely sup- Increase the should be agricultural agricultural port to support for more deextension extension people in poor people tailed and content methodoloneed when parsupportive gies. ticipating in agricultural extension services

Thuan Hoa

82

0

18

25

68

46

Ban Lien

74

8

62

49

49

21

Thanh Xuong

75

42

38

42

54

50

Luong Minh

69

15

31

39

23

39

Duc Huong

80

23

50

21

30

40

Xy

58

15

38

15

75

75

Cu Hue

31

12

23

39

81

65

Phuoc Dai

35

6

24

29

71

41

Phuoc Thanh

43

26

30

9

70

61

Thuan Hoa

17

28

11

11

94

72

Average

62

19

36

28

60

51

SOURCE: Households interviews.

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8. PARTICIPATORY PLANNING AND DECENTRALIZED FINANCING AT COMMUNE LEVEL Enhancing the participation and empowerment of communities and local residents in local government requires specific tools and procedures. Participatory planning and decentralized financing (e.g. in the form of Community Development Fund - CDF) at commune level are two initiatives effectively applied in many communes.

8.1. Reformed planning at commune level Supported by donor projects such as Chia Se (Sharing), (SIDA), Plan International, Poris (Belgium), Luxdev (Luxemburg) and Oxfam since 2010, Nghe An and Quang Tri provinces have applied participatory socio-economic development planning at the commune level32. Commune planning reform requires investment programmes and public services that are closer to the community. The commune participatory planning process comprises the following steps (Figure 8.1): • • • • •

Step 1: Preparatory work. Establish or finalize a district, commune and village working group; organize orientation workshop on commune planning; provide training to the planning working group. Step 2: Collect and process data and information. Collect information from villages and branches and organizations at commune level. District provides development orientations to commune. Step 3: Synthesize and draft commune plan. Review funding sources and feasibility of proposed activities. Step 4: Organize commune planning workshop with the participation of representatives of commune leaders, branches, mass organization and villages to get feedbacks on the draft commune plan and prioritize activities. Step 5: Update plan, report to higher authorities and conduct community consultation. Step 6: Finalize the commune plan, issue it officially. Organize implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the commune plan.

FIGURE 8.1. Commune participatory planning process

32 During the reform of planning, Nghe An and Quang Tri provinces organized study tours of Hoa Binh province. Hoa Binh was the first province issuing a decision institutionalizing a new planning approach at commune level (Decision no. 10/2010/QĐ-UBND of Hoa Binh Provincial People’s Committee dated 15 June 2010), and decentralized financing. Thereby 210 communes and wards in the province will receive an additional allocation of budget for the planning work as from 2011 with an average amount of 7 million VND/commune/year. Commune cadres continue to receive capacity building training on planning using the provincial budget (500 million VND in 2011). Communes not covered by PS-ARD Project communes funded by SDC and Northern Mountainous Poverty Reduction Project , Phase 2 funded by the World Bank, will receive funding from the province to establish Community Development Fund - CDF, 100 million VND/commune/ year, for construction of small infrastructure facilities and production support as from 2011. The decentralized provincial financing for CDF will increase by years (Official Letter No. 1307/UBND-TCTN of Hoa Binh Provincial People’s Committee dated 30 August 2010).


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

Quang Tri Province has institutionalised socio-economic development planning at the commune level. From the lessons learned from the pilot process in Chia Se, Plan International and Oxfam, the Provincial People’s Committee officially issued a new planning process (Decision 12/QD-People’s Committee dated 1 June 2011 of Quang Tri Provincial People’s Committee). Participation in the implementation of the new planning process is appreciated by local residents and authorities in Nghe An and Quang Tri (Table 8.1). TABLE 8.1. Planning before and after the introduction of the new planning process Before application Format

After application

A 5-7 page document: actually a report, not a real plan

Developed into a complete plan with data and solutions

Communes followed non-unified forms, no specific guidance process

Follow unified forms, with guidelines and training

No direct consultation with villages, branches and organizations

Collect data and information directly from villages, branches and organizations in the commune

Manual, difficult to connect sections

With support from software (Excel), connects well with other sections in the plan

Content

General content, little data from branches, mass organizations and villages

Based on local conditions, more relevant (clear links between problems, causes and solutions), proposed specific activities, which are prioritized

Resources

Not accompanied by budget estimates, no integration of sources

Accompanied with budget estimates, integrated resources (within known financial sources)

Method of implementation

Two-way relations - top down and bottom up - are improved. The province issues a guideline applying to Training of Trainers (TOT) at all levels from province to district, commune and village. Through data collection at the village level, people’s expectations are taken into consideration and incorporated into the commune plan and submitted to the district. District functional agencies (agricultural extension, animal health, education, health, water) use the plan to develop their plans of action and allocate budget to meet people’s needs. However, implementing new commune plans in Nghe An and Quang Tri in 2010 and 2011 has faced many challenges (Box 8.1): • • •

• •

• • •

Local residents and grassroots cadres do not have the skills, processes and planning skills to use the new approach. Recommendations from villages tend to include infrastructure facilities, cultural social - environmental aspects and community-based solutions that do not receive sufficient attention. The quality of information and data collected from branches and mass organizations is not high. In many communes, the proposals include regular activities of branches and organizations, not solutions contributing to commune socio-economic development orientations or poverty reduction. Unknown financial resources at the time of planning. Synthesis and feedback from the district level to the commune plan (through the new district planning process) are not implemented, therefore, the commune plans are not of significance in terms of inputs to the district socio-economic development plan and plans for public service provision of district agencies and branches . Commune plans do not incorporate gender, access to markets or the management of risks associated with natural disasters and climate change. The Provincial People’s Committee did not allocate additional budget to commune-level planning. People’s Council has not participated in monitoring of the new planning process.

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BOX 8.1 Planning using new approach in Luong Minh and Xy communes Luong Minh commune In 2010 and 2011, Luong Minh Commune (Tuong Duong, Nghe An) applied a new approach in socio-economic development planning. Members of the commune working team received training on the planning process in the district. The heads of villages and secretaries of village Party Cells were also given guidance by district cadres and commune working teams at the commune People’s Committee’s headquarters. The new planning approach is more progressive than the traditional approach because of increased participation and proposals are based on local realities. At the village meeting, villagers made active contributions. The commune planning workshop was highly appreciated by most grassroots cadres because of the participation of leaders and representatives of all branches and organizations in the commune and villages. However, there remain some shortcomings in the planning work in Luong Minh commune. At village meetings to collect information, recommendations are mainly associated with infrastructure projects, without cultural-social-environmental proposals and community-bases solutions (that need no financial resources). Commune branches and organizations do not submit reports on time. For different reasons, the commune submitted its plan for 2012 later than the deadline. Xy commune Since 2011, Xy commune (Huong Hoa, Quang Tri) began reforming its planning with assistance from Plan International. Unlike Luong Minh commune, Xy commune applied the Participatory Rural Assessment (PRA) approach when collecting information from villages. The new planning approach has involved more participation from local residents, particularly vulnerable groups (women and children). However, as it was the first time Xy commune applied the new planning approach, there were a number of issues. Village cadres did not have the capacity to undertake the PRA approach effectively. Commune cadres had to help with funding provided by the project. People made very few proposals as they are not interested and are hesitant to speak up in public, and have no full understanding of the nature of the new planning approach. The information sheets of commune branches and organizations contain many errors, and some were delayed in submission.

8.2. Community Development Fund (CDF) The goal of the Community Development Fund (CDF) is to help communes have a decentralized financial source to implement small projects (infrastructure facilities or support livelihoods), build capacity in socio-economic development planning and financial management. The quality of planning and implementation is higher when financing is decentralized in the form of CDF. In Tuong Duong and Ky Son (Nghe An) and Hai Lang District (Quang Tri) CDFs contributed to better commune planning and implementation. Community development funds are relatively small (60-80 million VND per commune), however, they play a crucial role motivating people to participate in the planning process (Box 8.2). As a result plans are better suited to local conditions and the desires of residents.


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 2: Challenges to Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

Positive social impact is a strong point of CDF compared to other financial sources. CDF can help increase community cohesion and participation of the poor, also facilitate the roles of existing community institutions.

BOX 8.2. Decentralized financing in the form of CDF enhances people’s participation In late 2010, Oxfam funded CDFs of 60 million VND in four communes in Tuong Duong District (Nghe An). Local residents were involved in the development and implementation of CDF projects. The most outstanding result was the promotion of counterpart funding and close monitoring by local residents of small infrastructure projects. --- “Such a small fund is a catalyst that helps the plan to be better. The surprising outcome is active and enthusiastic participation by local residents. Never before have villagers contributed more than 100 million VND. In the past, local people only contributed 5% of the total cost, and it was very difficult to mobilize, and everything was done by contractors. This assistance meets the urgent needs of local residents in this type of projects.” (Leader of the Finance-Planning Division of Tuong Duong District). Tam Thai commune was provided with 60 million VND for a CDF. Local residents contributed 84 million VND of labour and locally available materials to build a canal and upgrade a dam. Xa Luong commune was also provided with a 60 million CDF and another 60 million VND was provided by local residents to build transport roads. In general, local contributions are more than 50% of the total cost of a project. Decentralized financing like CDFs help mobilise community resources and encourage people to be less dependent on the Government.

Lessons learned from CDF implementation Combining the reform of socio-economic development planning, financial management and community monitoring capacities and decentralized financing in the form of CDF. Experiences show that the relationship between participatory planning, financial management and community-based supervisory capacities is the key to the success of CDFs. Support activities to participatory planning and capacity building in financial management is a prerequisite for the implementation of CDFs. Decentralized financing in the form of CDFs is a “catalyst” for the better implementation of participatory planning and enhancement of community-based supervisory capacities. The advantage of CDFs is they are small-scale and have simple procedures. Although the infrastructure facilities funded by CDFs are small they are of great effect. CDF financial procedures are more straight forward than other programmes and projects. Community-based construction can develop the strength of CDFs, because local residents are themselves involved and the projects are realised by local skills. As CDF projects are developed by local communities there is a strong sense of ownership and responsibility, reducing waste and inefficiency. Implementation of CDF in coordination with community institutions with flexibility to meet local needs. Initiatives funded by CDF can be coordinated with existing community institutions as they can help mobilize more resources effectively.

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Part 3 Toward Sustainable Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 3: Toward Sustainable Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

Part 3: Toward Sustainable Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam Rural poverty monitoring initiative, round 5, 2011 summarizes poverty trends in the last five years (2007-2011) at the monitoring points, at the same time study more carefully key challenges to rural poverty reduction in the coming period. Recommendations for discussion are made in this report with the hope to contribute to suggesting changes on approaches to sustainable poverty reduction in rural areas in the 2011-2020 period.

9. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DISCUSSION 9.1. Achievements and challenges to rural poverty reduction The last five years (2007-2011) has been a difficult period for Viet Nam. High inflation, the global financial crisis and economic recession, natural disasters and epidemics have affected the lives of everybody in Viet Nam, particularly the poor. Nevertheless, the poverty rate continues to decline. Major Government investments have provided the poor with improved infrastructure, education, health care, access to credit, agro-forestry extension services and housing improvements. Improved living standards at the monitoring points are associated with strategies to combine agriculture (land-based diversification and intensification), non-agriculture (including labour mobility) and investment in children’s education. The recorded achievements are remarkable, yet rural poverty reduction remains a challenge. Poverty reduction rates are uneven in rural areas. The poverty rate among ethnic minority groups remains stubbornly high, particularly in remote mountainous areas. In such situations, it is more important to close the widening poverty gap between regions, ethnic groups and within communities . A multi-dimensional poverty analysis is essential. Across the monitoring points people’s lives have improved in many respects. People own more property (mainly housing, motorbikes, and livestock) and have improved access to information (TV, telephones). However, many people face difficult living conditions (safe water, latrines), have limited access to markets, have little opportunity of non-agricultural employment and struggle to manage the many risks they face. The percentage of households that are predominantly engaged in agriculture remains high, and remains a significant indicator of household poverty. Food shortages between harvests or during epidemics and natural disasters remains a significant challenge. Gender roles remain the same today as in 2007, and women still do not play an active role in productive and social activities. The proportion of women in administration is still low and their capacities at local administrative levels are limited. In communities in which different social groups have specific difficulties it is important to tailor policies to each group. Developing social security systems is a major challenge. Policy coverage is limited, the level of assistance is low, targeting is imperfect and often inadequate and local capacity to implement social policies is weak. Recipient households are identified using a list of poor households. However, the different needs of vulnerable households vary considerably and are not recorded in the list, making more nuanced policy difficult.

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Price volatility has been a serious issue since 2007. High inflation in 2008 and 2011 affected many people. Some commodity producers benefit from price increases of agricultural produce. However, the poor are sensitive to higher input prices and benefit little from increasing agricultural prices because of small-scale production and weak market position. Increased prices for food, services and other necessities reduces purchasing power, and affects the food security of poor households who do not grow their own food. Labour mobility has increased over the last five years. Labour mobility is associated with diversified livelihood strategies and plays an increasingly important role in rural poverty reduction. More men work away from home than women, although at many monitoring points an increasing proportion of women are seeking work further afield. Increased labour mobility changes the local labour structure and traditional gender divisions. However, when men work away from home women face an increased domestic burden. Few ethnic minorities in mountainous areas work away from home due to community and family barriers. Access to educational services has improved considerably at the monitoring points. Semi-boarding for general school children has proved effective, particularly in ethnic minority and mountainous areas. However, the proportion of lower and upper secondary school children dropping out of school is still high and is even increasing in some disadvantaged mountainous areas. Some ethnic minority children continue to struggle with schooling in the Vietnamese language. Increasing spending on children’s education is a major burden for the poor. Access to agricultural extension services has improved. A network of grassroots agricultural extension workers has been established in most of the monitoring points in mountainous ethnic minority areas. However, the participatory agricultural extension approach (increasing the function of counselling, facilitation and hand-on guidance) has not yet been popularly applied. Improved farming methods have yet to be applied on a large scale. Funding for agricultural extension projects is limited, while the capacity of grassroots agricultural extension workers is weak. Reformed planning and decentralized investment at the commune level is becoming more important. People now have better access to information on policies, programmes and projects, many of which have been designed to improve the participation of the poor and poor communities. However, there remains a gap between policy and its implementation. The application of participatory approaches and decentralized financing mechanisms, such as the Community Development Fund (CDF) in some survey sites, has been encouraging, yet still faces many challenges. Grassroots cadres and local residents have limited capacity, district level government and communes do not work closely together, plans and financial resource plans are not adequately communicated and gender and disaster and climate change strategies are not incorporated in the planning process.

9.2. Towards sustainable poverty reduction in rural areas of Viet Nam This five-year report presents the following recommendations for discussion toward sustainable poverty reduction in Viet Nam’s rural areas, particularly mountainous ethnic minority areas: 1. To promote qualitative and quantitative research and analysis of emerging themes in order to develop suitable poverty reduction policies. Suggested themes are the increasing gap between the rich and the poor and the multidimensional character of poverty. There should also be a specific focus on northern mountainous ethnic minority areas.


Five-year Synthesis Report

Part 3: Toward Sustainable Rural Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam

2. To formulate more vigorous support policies in favour of specific disadvantaged groups such as the “chronically” poor, the temporarily poor, the vulnerable poor and the near-poor and people who have just escaped from poverty. Support policies should: increase direct cash transfers to the chronically poor, build capacity relevant to people’s livelihoods, increase conditional assistance and reduce unconditional assistance to the temporarily poor, increase investment in programmes that manage risks facing vulnerable groups, improve access for the near-poor to health insurance, credit, agricultural extension and education. 3. To build a social security policy that ensures the right to security and a minimum living standard acceptable to every citizen. To consolidate similar policies in order to minimise mistakes, reduce the management burden and implementation costs. To provide more targeted assistance to the most vulnerable households and improve monitoring and evaluation systems, develop concrete regulations so that people and communities can practice their supervisory rights. Target social security based on multi-dimensional poverty criteria rather than the income poverty line. 4. To design policies that both do not discriminate against migrants and actively support them in their efforts to find and secure safe employment. 5. To encourage investments in education in models such as “Semi-boarding general schools”, “Staff supporting teachers”, “Bi-lingual education” for kindergartens, and “Education and community development - Reflect”. Issue specific regulations on additional contributions, both compulsory and “optional”, in order to reduce the costs of sending children to school. Develop concrete regulations to improve the roles of parent’s representative boards in supervising the school’s affairs. Increase vocational counselling services to enable students to select courses that will help then find employment on graduation. 6. To reform agricultural extension services in mountainous ethnic minority areas that are more beneficial to the poor. Replace conventional training methods and models with participatory approaches such as “Farmer Field Schools (FFS)”, “Participatory Technology Development (PTD)”, “Farmer to Farmer”. Provide specialised training, increased allowances and direct support for the establishment of demonstration models for village agricultural extension workers. Encourage gender analysis and gender mainstreaming in agricultural extension. Increase the budget for agricultural extension projects aimed at improving and changing the livelihoods of the poor, paying special attention to low-cost investment models, suitable to conditions and livelihood strategies of poor ethnic minorities. 7. To undertake comprehensive investment (e.g. in the form of Community Development Fund - CDF) in poverty reduction programmes at the commune level via a decentralized financing mechanism with community ownership (i.e. “block grant”), along with substantial and continued assistance in enhancing participatory socio-economic planning, financial management and communitybased supervisory capacities. Recommendations obtained in participatory planning exercises at the grassroots level should be consolidated and reflected in plans to deliver public services (e.g. agriculture, agro- extension, and education, health, and water supply services). To institutionalize the participatory socio-economic planning approach and regulation on the use of decentralized financial) at commune level, based on experiences and lessons learned from some provinces taking part in this initiative over the past years. Tools promoting the voice and empower farmers should be applied widely (such as “Citizen Report Card”, “Community Score Card”, and “Social auditing”).

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10. REFERENCES “Human Development Report 2010. Real Wealth of Nations: Road to Human Development “, UN Development Programme (UNDP), Second Edition, 2 November 2010 “Social Protection”, Viet Nam Development Report 2008, Joint Donor Report at the Annual Consultative Group Meeting for Viet Nam, Hanoi, 6-7 December 2007 “Modern Institutions,” Viet Nam Development Report 2010, Joint Donor Report at the Annual Consultative Group Meeting for Viet Nam, Hanoi, 3-4 December 2009. “Social Services for Human Development – Country Report on Human Development 2011”, UN Development Programme (UNDP), November 2011 “Urban poverty assessment in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City”, UN Development Programme (UNDP), 2010 “Taking Stock: An Update on Viet Nam’s Recent Economic Development,” The World Bank’s Report prepared for the Annual Consultative Group Meeting for Viet Nam, Hanoi, 3-4 December 2009. “Poverty Reduction in Viet Nam: Achievements and Challenges,” Assessment of Poverty in Viet Nam Synthesis Report 2008-2010, Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences, October 2010. “Viet Nam Household Living Standards Survey 2008,” General Statistics Office, Statistical Publishing House, Hanoi, 2010. “Key results from Viet Nam Household Living Standards Survey 2010”, General Statistics Office, June 2011 “Resolution No. 80/NQ-CP of the Government on Sustainable poverty reduction Orientations 2011-2020”, 19 May 2011 “Terminology of social security in Viet Nam”, Institute of Labour Science and Society (ILSSA) and GIZ, 9/2011 “General population and housing census in Viet Nam 2009: Key results”, General Statistics Office, June 2010

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Looking forwards: Challenges to Poverty Reduction in Vietnam  

The ‘Looking forward: Challenges to Poverty Reduction in Vietnam’ report updates the results of the participatory poverty monitoring in rura...

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