New approach to child poverty developed for Viet Nam


chil_poverty_pr_frontHa Noi, 26 November 2009 – To introduce and advocate for the adoption of a new approach to child poverty, a National Conference has been jointly organized in Ha Noi today by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Participating in the conference are more than a hundred officials and experts from the national and provincial government agencies, bilateral and multilateral organisations, NGOs and academic institutions.

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and the General Statistic Office, with support from UNICEF, have developed a country-specific multidimensional child poverty measurement tool. Taking into consideration the basic human needs and rights of the child as defined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the tool has incorporated the following eight domains of poverty: education; nutrition; health; shelter; water and sanitation; child labour; leisure; social inclusion and protection. A child is considered to be living in poverty if his/her needs are unmet in at least two out of the eight poverty domains.

Using the new approach, significantly more children are identified as poor compared to the current approach used in Viet Nam, which relies on monetary measures of poverty. Children living in rural areas in general, and in the North West and North East regions in particular are more likely to live in poverty. The poverty domains with the highest rates of deprivation are water and sanitation, leisure and health. Children who belong to an ethnic minority group have a much higher chance to experience poverty.

“Children are at a higher risk of poverty and being affected by poverty more seriously than adults since their basic human needs are different. Children have different nutritional requirements related to their specific stage of development, and the role of education is vital during their stage of life. Poverty, therefore, has a negative affect on children’s mental and physical development, which will prevent them to reach their full potential”, said Mme Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Minister of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs.

The report also reveals that the multidimensional and the monetary methods to measure child poverty identify quite different groups of children who are poor, implying that they do not draw the same picture of child poverty. “According to the approach developed by UNICEF and MOLISA since 2006, about one third of all children in Viet Nam are poor – this means that they are deprived in at least two areas identified as essential to children’s development and well-being, such as health, education, sanitation, or nutrition. Taking a multidimensional approach to child poverty therefore shows some children may not live in families with low incomes, but must still be considered as living in poverty because they are deprived of basic needs in health, education, or nutrition”, said Mr. Jesper Morch, UNICEF Representative in Viet Nam. A combination of the two child poverty measurement methods is recommended for Viet Nam in developing its poverty reduction policies as it will help to ensure that no children are “left out”, whether from a monetary or a multidimensional perspective.

“In Viet Nam, where so much remarkable progress has been made on poverty reduction, there is still a large group of children who are deprived of an adequate standard of living. If children grow up in poverty, they are more likely to be poor in adulthood as well. Reducing child poverty will, therefore, not only improve children’s lives today, but also contribute to reducing adult poverty in the long run”, Mr. Morch added.

During the 1.5-day conference, the international and national participants will share the latest knowledge and experience related to multi-dimensional approaches to child poverty and discuss how this will be translated into concrete policy options that contribute to improve the well-being of children in Viet Nam.

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