Thai Nguyen, June 12, 2014 – A three day conference to discuss sustainable development in the remote Northern mountainous regions of Vietnam began here today. The conference, “Sustainable Development and Ethnic Minority Poverty Reduction in Mountainous Regions”, organized by Thai Nguyen University and the World Bank, aims to discuss opportunities for sustainable poverty reduction in the region drawing from lessons of successful experiences in Vietnam and elsewhere. Participants include government officials at both central and provincial levels, researchers, business people, development partners and practitioners including from other countries.
Vietnam’s record on economic growth and poverty reduction over the last two decades has been remarkable, with the poverty headcount falling from 58 percent in the early 1990s to 14.5 percent by 2008, and to an estimated 10 percent in 2010. Ethnic minorities constitute the bulk of the absolute poor in Vietnam. Hence, while ethnic minority poverty was only emerging as a concern in the late 1990s, it is becoming a central focus of the poverty dialogue today.
The Northern Mountains, with high levels of poverty and low social development indicators, particularly among ethnic minority communities, are therefore at the center of these discussions. “While ethnic minorities represent less than 15% of Vietnam’s population, they make up almost 50% of Vietnam’s poor,” says Victoria Kwakwa, the World Bank Country Director for Vietnam. “Achieving sustainable reduction in poverty in these communities will require a holistic approach with action across several challenges such as livelihoods and market linkages; natural resource management; and education and health in a more synergistic way.”
The three-day conference will discuss current policy and programs targeting ethnic minorities in the Northern Mountains region and explore alternative approaches that can better tailor these programs to achieve greater impact in fighting poverty. A key focus is experience sharing from Vietnam and different parts of the world. The conference also includes site visits to poverty reduction projects to see results on the ground.