Generating Collective Capabilities in Vietnam: How to encourage the participation of the rural poor within the poverty reduction process?

Thi Hoang Mai, Dao (2009). "Generating Collective Capabilities in Vietnam: How to encourage the participation of the rural poor within the poverty reduction process?" Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the HDCA, 10-12 September 2009, Lima, Peru.

Over the last few years, Vietnam achieved a rapid economic growth, resulting in a remarkable progress in the reduction of poverty. Between 1993 and 2004, with real GDP per capita grew by 5.9 percent a year on average. The ratio of poor people dropped by two thirds and approximately 30 million people were lifted out of poverty. However, this poverty reduction appears to be more and more costly, because the marginal poverty reduction effect resulting from economic growth become smaller than that it was before. Therefore, a higher growth rate is required to reduce each percentage point of the poverty rate while, in turn, each percentage point of economic growth requires a higher level of investment. In the mean time, Vietnam is expecting to graduate out of the list of the poorest countries by 2010, and as an emerging country is likely to be confronted to a series of challenges in the coming years due to the change in the international context. Even if they receive various supports from the Government and other development institutions, the poor still have to fight hard when they want to escape from poverty. Unfortunately, for many Vietnamese people, especially in remote rural areas, poverty is still considered as a natural component of their lives since a long time. Overcoming the poverty reduction challenge requires the willingness and activeness the poor themselves. Without their participation the progress in poverty reduction will slow down and may even never succeed. Moreover, there are strong disparities in the poverty rates and in the pace of poverty reduction among regions and ethnic groups. This is a serious cause of concern. In 2004, the ethnic minorities, who represent approximately 14 percent of the population, account for 39 percent of the poor. In the same way, the Northern Mountains, the North Central Coast and the Central Highlands, make 57 percent of the poor while they only represent less than 20 percent of the whole population. This paper shows, with some case studies, how the poor, especially in some ethnic groups, are becoming more efficient by acting collectively within the poverty reduction process. It is bases on qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys conducted among the poor in the Northern part of Vietnam. The first section will explain why participation is required by the poor. The second section will describe the situation of the poor and the current poverty reduction process. The last section will argue for new perspectives in poverty reduction by associating the poor to the reinforcement of collective capabilities.
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