|Since 1986, Viet Nam's urban population increased from 19 to 34 per cent by 2013 and is projected to reach 45 per cent by 2020. — Photo baoxaydung
HA NOI (VNS) — Urban social services play an important role in improving living conditions and in generating funds for urban development, deputy minister of construction Phan Thi My Linh said at a conference last week in northern Hung Yen Province.
Linh said that adequate social services also helped attract investors to urban development projects.
The Construction Ministry is working out a 2020 plan to improve social services in Viet Nam's urban areas. The plan will encompass public services such as education, healthcare and housing provided by governmental or private organizations.
Social services also help perform the needed task of increasing the effectiveness of organizations, building stronger communities and promoting equity and opportunity for residents.
"The move is needed because of the country's accelerating pace of urbanization," Linh said.
A report by World Bank shows that Viet Nam has one of highest urbanisation growths amongst Southeast Asian countries.
Since 1986, Viet Nam's urban population increased from 19 to 34 per cent by 2013 and is projected to reach 45 per cent by 2020.
Viet Nam's cities are expanding in terms of space and population, but also population density in inner-city areas, which means population growth is outstripping spatial and infrastructure growth.
Further complicating matters, urban growth is focused in a few large cities like Ha Noi and HCM City while small or medium cities actually saw decreases in their population.
Deputy minister Linh said that development of new urban areas in the past just focused on technical infrastructure like housing.
"Social infrastructure and social services haven't been developed properly," Linh said, adding that it has really had an effect on people's living standards.
The incompatibility between new urban areas and existing infrastructure caused overloads in hospitals and schools as well as shortages of resources like water.
Linh blamed the incompatibility of the new and old on the absence of comprehensive planning for social services development and policies to encourage investors to work on such projects.
"We still lack the legal framework to regulate quality of services by ensuring service users' rights," Linh said.
Director general of Viet Hung Development and Investment Joint Stock Company, Dao Ngoc Thanh, said that new urban areas changed the face of the country and its major cities. "New urban areas must confront degradation of infrastructure and shortages of social services," Thanh said.
Vice head of the Ministry's Urban Development Department, Nguyen Thi Ha Anh, said that improved regulations on development and management of social services were necessary to increase service users' benefits.
Such improvement could also make conditions more favourable to investors considering social service projects in urban areas, she said. — VNS