HCM City takes steps to lower poverty rate

Update: January, 26/2015 - 08:46
A porter carries bamboo at a trade village in HCM City. The local department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs plans to reduce the number of families living near the poverty line in the city's poor districts. — VNA/VNS Photo An Hieu

HCM CITY (VNS) — Giap Thi Tuy Anh of Tan Binh District raised her annual income to more than VND16 million (US$762), the cut-off for the city's poverty line, with loans provided by HCM City's poverty eradication and hunger elimination fund.

Anh learned about the soft loans at her ward's self-management group, which exist in each commune and ward in the district.

In 2006, she borrowed VND7 million ($333) to buy a mobile food stall to sell bread in front of her house.

In 2007, Anh was able to pay off her loan, and use capital she earned to open a grocery in 2011.

To buy groceries, though, she needed more money.

"Luckily, I was given another loan of VND10 million ($476) from the fund for poverty reduction and hunger eradication," she said.

In 2013, she paid off that loan, and her family's annual income is now more than $762.

Anh was one of 1,444 families in the district who moved beyond the city's poverty threshold of $762 last year.

Nguyen Thi Minh Thu, deputy head of the district's poverty reduction, said the district had carried out many programmes and that now there are no families under the poverty line .

For instance, apart from loans for poor families to do business, the district has introduced jobs to working-age members of poor families.

"Jobs are the basic method to help poor families have an income and stable life," said Thu.

She and her colleagues on the board have also provided funds for poor children to attend vocational training schools.

Tuition exemption and scholarships have also been provided to children of poor families.

The district has also carried out programmes to build new houses and upgrade dilapidated houses.

To help them access health care services, the district has provided them with health insurance cards, Thu said.

This year's task is to reduce the number of families living near the poverty line, she said, adding that the district would try to reduce the number to 500 families.

Nguyen Van Xe, deputy head of Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, has asked the district to monitor those families that have risen above the poverty line to ensure that their lives remain stable.

Tan Binh is one of four districts without poor families in the city. The other districts include 6, 5 and 11.

There are five wards without families near the poverty line, including one ward in District 2 and four remaining wards in District 5, he added.

This year the city's remaining districts will aim to have no poor families, Xe said.

Xe said HCM City regularly receives praise for being the country's leader in poverty reduction..

From 2009 to 2013, the city's annual fund for poverty reduction totalled VND2.7trillion ($128 million). Of these, 93.1 per cent were for loans.

The city has gathered funds for poverty reduction via other organisations as well.

However, Xe said the city was concerned that poverty rate would be unstable because the city defines poor families based on their annual income only.

Even if their income exceeds the poverty threshold, they still can experience other dimensions of poverty, including health, education and living conditions.

Because of this concern, the city will launch a pilot programme to define and classify poor families based on multiple dimensions, including health, education, living condition, information access and social insurance, apart from income, Xe said.

"Multiple-dimension poverty reduction is the only way to prevent an unstable poverty rate," he added.

The four districts of 6, 11, Tan Phu and Binh Chanh will be the site of the pilot programme.

The programme will then expand to the entire city, Xe said.

"Of course, it will be difficult at first, but the city will carry out multiple-dimension poverty reduction in order to improve the life of its residents," he said. — VNS