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Special policies fail to reach urban poor

Update: March, 08/2014 - 07:41
Rural workers in Ha Noi receive training for jobs in the textile industry. Officials admit that the urban poor in Viet Nam face barriers in accessing preferential policies on housing, vocational training, job creation and technical transfer. — VNA/VNS PHOTO Huu Viet

HCM CITY (VNS)— The urban poor in Viet Nam face barriers in accessing preferential policies on housing, vocational training, job creation and technical transfer, Ngo Truong Thi, head of the Co-ordination Office for Poverty Reduction Programme, has said.

Although poverty rates nationwide fell from 6.9 per cent in 2010 to 4.3 per cent in 2012, the number of people whose living standards remained low was still too high, he said.

Speaking at a conference on poverty reduction that began yesterday in HCM City, Thi said that authorities in some urban area have had to adjust their poverty standards to include those residents who had fallen through the cracks of the system.

In many urban areas where living costs are higher, the national poverty line is too low for some poor residents to qualify for assistance.

Even though the poverty rate in Ha Noi, Da Nang and HCM City and the provinces of Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau has fallen dramatically, these urban areas continue to face an influx of migrants.

According to a report on poverty monitoring between 2008 and 2012 by ActionAid International Viet Nam and Oxfam, the lives of most urban poor have improved and many have escaped poverty.

They have better housing and education but once other factors are considered, urban poverty remains a concern, such as limited access to public services and uncomfortable living conditions, the report said.

The high cost of education, for example, is a burden for the poor, and most poor people have limited access to social-protection programmes as many of them work in small enterprises or in the informal sector.

In addition, many insurance support programmes and cash-transfer programmes must be improved so the poor have better access, the report said.

The report also pointed out that current poverty-reduction models were inadequate measuring sticks.

It said that Government officials should assess the level of poverty through "multi-dimensional poverty reduction" methods.

Historically, poverty was measured by the level of income, but with these methods, access to education, social services and other factors would also be considered.

Proper support policies should not discriminate against migrants or rely on the ownership of a resident's registration book, the report recommended.

In addition, comprehensive social-protection services should be accessible and should not discriminate against migrants in urban areas.

Thi told Viet Nam News that her office was considering the use of a multi-dimensional poverty reduction model, and by 2015 the approach would be applied.

Based on its findings, poverty policies would then be adjusted, he added.

Ha Noi's poverty rate last year was 2.66 per cent. The rate was 0.83 per cent for Da Nang, 0.66 per cent for Dong Nai Province and 0.95 per cent for Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province.

HCM City and Binh Duong Province no longer have poor households, under the national poverty line guidelines. — VNS


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