Publication Date

2008

Abstract

Devastated by war and left initially with a broken economy, a weak workforce and poor policies, Vietnam, the homeland of 54 ethnic groups, was listed among the poorest countries in the world with around three out of every four people living in poverty in 1987. In order to improve the economic situation and the living standards of Vietnamese residents, Vietnam commenced its transition in 1987 from a command economy. From 1987 on, Vietnam had been known to have remarkable achievement in hunger eradication and poverty reduction (HEPR). However poverty remained high in rural, mountainous and ethnic regions. Due to that despite the budget constraints, the Government of Vietnam (GoV) has financed national HEPR initiatives through Programs 133 and 135 with the main objective of developing infrastructure in poor and especially disadvantaged communes in order to eliminate the social-economic gap between the majority-minority, the highlanders–the lowlanders, and the urban-rural people. After eight years of implementation, these two programs have been recognized to be the lever for the poor to overcome their difficulty. However it was also said that these programs have not had a deep or sustainable influence on the lives of their target people. This paper examined how Programs 133 and 135 have impacted Nam Lu, an ethnic community in Muong Khuong, a mountainous district in the north of Vietnam, identifies the disparity in Vietnam regarding poverty reduction and eco-social development, and confirms the roles of the GoV in HEPR.

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