WASHINGTON, January 22, 2014 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a credit of US$60 million to help strengthen Vietnam’s social assistance system by developing innovations in management and service delivery nationwide, and piloting these innovations in four provinces in north, central and south Vietnam.
Although Vietnam has achieved remarkable poverty reduction outcomes over the past two decades, poverty remains high for ethnic minorities and certain other groups. Vietnam’s existing social assistance system includes multiple programs, but there are important policy and implementation gaps that risk hampering long-term poverty and vulnerability reduction. The fragmentation of programs and delivery systems creates considerable inefficiency for both implementers and beneficiaries.
“In Vietnam, the critical issue lies in not the lack of social protection programs and policies, but the fact that there are too many fragmented and overlapping ones,” says Vice Minister Nguyen Trong Dam of Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs. “Our objective therefore is to build a consolidated social assistance system and lay the foundation for a robust social assistance delivery system in the long term and to contribute to sustainable poverty reduction. This project will be a breakthrough stride in that direction. We are confident that we will succeed as this reform initiative is highly supported by high-level central and local leaders,” he added.
According to Victoria Kwakwa, the World Bank Country Director to Vietnam, "Governments around the world are increasingly focusing on building robust social assistance systems that can protect the vulnerable against extreme deprivation, help build resilience to shocks, and provide opportunities to the poor."
The funding will be used for the Social Assistance System Strengthening Project (SASSP), which emphasizes the role of the social assistance system in investing in poor children to expand their life chances and break the intergenerational transmission of poverty. The Project will put in place critical elements of a strengthened social assistance system nationwide, including a national database of poor and near-poor households and social assistance beneficiaries and a management information system. This will support the Government’s objective of reducing fragmentation by laying the foundation for program consolidation and improving the effectiveness of public spending on social assistance.
In the four project provinces (Hà Giang, Quảng Nam, Trà Vinh and Lâm Đồng), a consolidated social assistance program called the “Cơ hội thoát nghèo truyền kiếp” or “Opportunity to move out of inter-generational poverty” program will replace three existing programs. The project is a product of a partnership involving MOLISA, UNICEF, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), and the World Bank.
Vice Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Trong Dam added: ” This will be a great opportunity for Vietnam to build a new modern social protection system that is transparent and efficient in ensuring everyone's right to access to social protection services”.
The funding for the Project comes from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s lending arm for low-income countries on blend terms.