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Making a Difference Stories

Climate change lives - Viet’s journey to Ben Tre

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C55A8695My name is Vu Xuan Viet, UNICEF Viet Nam WASH Specialist working in the UNICEF Emergency Programme . I have been with UNICEF for four months, which means I am a newcomer here. Emergency work is sometimes very challenging and stressful. Everything was new to me at the start, but the longer I work here the more I love my work.

As part of UNICEF’s on-going emergency response to a severe drought in 10 affected provinces in the South Central, Central Highlands and Mekong Delta regions of Viet Nam, I recently (November 9-10) went on a field trip to Ben Tre to visit three communes (Ba Tri, Giong Trom and Mo Cay Bac) impacted by drought and salt water intrusion as well as forecasted to be greatly impacted by climate change in the future.


For the golden opportunity not to be missed - Trinh Hong Son’s Journey to Kon Tum

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son 300With more than 20 years working in nutrition and communication behaviour change, I have had the opportunity to work within many communities and examine different cultures and characteristics. My experiences have also taught me that much effort, time and shared sympathy is needed to change an entrenched habit. As a member of UNICEF's emergency response programme team, I am utilizing this knowledge to help benefit the 10 provinces, in the Central Highlands, South Central and Mekong Delta regions, affected by the worst cases of drought and salt water intrusion in decades.

I have visited the Central Highlands numerous times during the course of my work. That day, as a graduate, l felt something new and strange, which only enthusiasm and youth could overcome the inadequacy of experience and knowledge. As with the lyrics of Nguyen Cuong's famous song, "Just so close, just so far", the people of the Central Highlands always welcome you with a gentle smile. More often than not they are carrying huge baskets filled with agricultural products and sometimes a baby sleeping on its mother's back. It is hard to forget the immense expanses of green, with rubber forests, white coffee flowers and especially the red soil of the Highlands which create a very specific signature of the land and people.


The Journey of Young Makers

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C55A6790This is the journey of a young mechatronic engineer who is the founder of Joint Rehabilitation Device project (JRD), Pham Nhat Tan, 23, who specialized in Mechatronics Engineering at Bach Khoa University in Ho Chi Minh City.

Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field of science that combines mechanical engineering, electronics, computers, telecommunications, systems and control engineering. Tan is a fresh graduate student, having a passion for robotics and in love with machines having their own behaviour to support human’s lives. How they work, how to make them work hooked him.


Bringing local lives back to normalcy - Tran Phuong Anh’s Journey to Ninh Thuan

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1Cha Ma Le Thi Hem and her malnourished little boy reflect on living with the drought. – UNICEF PhotoIt did rain – a long rain! You don’t know how long we had been waiting for such rain,” recalled Cha Ma Le Thi Hem. The 29-year-old Raglei ethnic minority mother, like many in Ninh Thuan province, has struggled for the past 36 months with the consequences of a fierce drought that has gripped the South Central region province.

I first encountered Hem during a trip in late November 2016 to the province to visit Raglei community women who are heads of households in their matriarchal society. I could not help but wonder what they had been through during such times of natural adversity.


“Our four-person family depends entirely on water sources. There was no water for drinking and hygienic practices. There was no water for our corn field. There was hardly any food as a result,” said Hem. Like many other locals, her family fetches water from nearby rivers and streams for daily consumption. During the drought, the streams turned dry. It was the same situation with the local reservoirs supplying water to families. 

Situated on the coast of Viet Nam, Ninh Thuan is among 52 provinces affected by the ongoing El Niño-induced drought and saline intrusion. Reduced water use and consumption of unsafe water for washing, ablutions and hand-washing have resulted in increased incidences of diarrhea, dysentery, hand, foot and mouth diseases and other skin diseases. Limited access to water bores has left visible impacts on local children’s health, exacerbating the prevalence of malnutrition.


UN-REDD – Ordinary lives, extraordinary stories: The secrets of building trust

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IMG 1281Photo: KIn Yii Yong“I’m the first person they turn to when they can’t resolve disputes amicably,” says Nong Thi Nguyet, a 50-year old woman and village head from the Vietnamese Na Ray village in Na Ri district, Bac Kan province.

Petite Nong Thi Nquyet stands out in a room filled with members of the Commune Peoples’ Committee, mass organizations, and elected village heads. She is the sole village headwoman and speaks with the confidence of a born mediator who has won the trust and respect of her fellow villagers.

Most are from ethnic minorities – Tay, Nung and Dao. Currently serving her ninth year as Na Ray village’s elected headwoman, she takes the trust they have placed in her very seriously, spurred on by a desire to maintain harmony and unity in her village.


Helping women living with HIV claim their rights

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women living_w_hiv

"Women widowed by AIDS or living with HIV may face property disputes with in-laws, complicated by limited access to justice to uphold their rights. Regardless of whether they themselves are living with HIV, women generally assume a disproportionate burden of care for others who are sick from or dying of AIDS, along with the orphans left behind. This, in turn, can reduce prospects for education and employment. Acknowledging these facts, training aimed to help women living with HIV to analyze their situations from gendered and rights-based perspectives as well as enable them to challenge discrimination against them and their children with strategic advocacy plans," Canadian Ambassador to Viet Nam, David Devine.


Citizen feedback improves public services

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DSC 0339As education levels rise so do expectations for public services. Back in 2012 the UN and Da Nang local authorities began a project to explore innovative ways for local governments and citizens to better communicate with each other.

This led to a online user feedback mechanism used by the city’s leaders to review the annual performance of 85 staff working at ‘One-stop-shop’ centre for public administration. People can use computer installed at the administration centres or go online to assess the quality of the services provided by civil servants.


Protecting rights through law and judiciary reform

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law judiciaryProtecting rights through law and judiciary reform

Increasing access to justice and protecting rights is vital if the Vietnamese people are to fully realize their aspirations and potential. In 2015 a broad coalition of UN Agencies focused their joint technical and advocacy efforts in helping the Government respond to last year's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations.

In 2014 Government of Viet Nam accepted 182 of 227 UPR recommendations to improve human rights in the country. Within this framework, one key area of work is to reform the criminal justice system and improve the legal and institutional framework sufficiently to ensure full-scale protection of human rights.


Using evidence to ensure inclusion

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inclusionEncouraging politicians to take an evidence-based approach to law-making is a key step to ensuring legislation meets the diverse needs of Vietnamese society.

This is why the UN works with Viet Nam's law-making institution, the National Assembly, to see it calls on the best available scientific evidence and systematically collected data to create and amend laws that protect and reflect the aspirations of all people, especially vulnerable and disadvantaged groups such as ethnic minorities and women.

The UN supports law-makers to increase their capacity by taking a 'learning-by-doing' approach, with access unlocked to new streams of evidence through fresh empirical research, public consultations and exposure to international best practices.


Speaking with One Voice on gender issues

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how up_normalReaching out and engaging the Vietnamese public is essential to challenge gender stereotypes, promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The nature of Viet Nam’s often conservative and patriarchal society often stifles open discussion of such issues and the breaking down of barriers.

In response, UN agencies in 2015 joined hands to take further steps to turn the public spotlight onto these often hidden issues by jointly advocating for change through different high profile campaigns.


Helping more at-risk people know about their HIV infections

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UNONE-467Striving toward the global goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, in late 2014 Viet Nam committed to achieve the "90-90-90" targets in HIV testing and treatment by 2020.

In other words by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV in Viet Nam will know their status, 90% of those diagnosed with HIV will be on treatment and 90% of those on treatment will have sustainable viral suppression.


Going to school without fear

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one-1806Gender-based violence, bullying and discrimination are still too common in schools in Viet Nam. This is not only a barrier to learning, but also a fundamental violation of human rights. As well as limiting a young person's attendance, learning and completion, it impacts more widely on families and communities. School-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) and bullying is therefore a serious threat to the achievement of quality, inclusive and equitable education for all children in Viet Nam.


Improving health through hygiene

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UNONE-387A global United Nations call for urgent action to address people's basic sanitation needs was answered by the Vietnamese Government in 2013 with local UN agencies helping to target equity-focussed interventions.

While Viet Nam has made impressive progress on improving sanitation coverage, doubling the proportion of rural and urban populations using improved sanitation facilities over the past decade, one-in-four people and more than half of ethnic minority groups do not have access to proper latrines with open defecation still commonplace in many rural areas.


Ensuring coherence for more inclusive policies

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UNONE-977Throughout 2015, UN Social Protection Joint Programming Group (JPG) worked tirelessly to establish a stronger platform for joint advocacy and dialogue. This strategic repositioning was timely given Viet Nam's high-level commitment towards the SDGs which establish a specific target on social protection, major national social protection reform processes as well as the formulation of the Socio-Economic Development Plan 2016-2021.

Equity is a growing concern in Viet Nam as it continues to transition rapidly as a lower middle-income country. Most of the population is vulnerable. During the course of 2015, the Social Protection JPG engaged widely with strategic partners in technical dialogues as well as at high-level policy dialogue and partnership, enabling deeper synergies in line with the principles of equity.


Helping Viet Nam tackle wildlife and forest crime

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UNONE-610Once an emerging threat, wildlife and forest crime today has transformed into one of the largest transnational organized criminal activities in Viet Nam and East Asia-Pacific, generating an estimated USD19.5 billion annually in the region. It affects a vast range of animals, birds, reptiles, timber and other forest products - many of which are globally threatened species. This spike in the illegal wildlife trade, threatens to overturn decades of conservation gains. Wildlife and forest crime also frequently involves other forms of serious criminality. Within Viet Nam, organized criminal networks move poached or illegally harvested wildlife and timber products through a variety of smuggling techniques also used to traffic drugs, people, weapons and counterfeit goods. Wildlife and forest crime has far-reaching negative consequences that go well beyond environmental impacts, by seriously undermining economies and livelihoods, good governance, the rule of law and affecting national security.


Setting REDD+ up for success

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shutterstock 222513934Forests are a fundamental pillar of Viet Nam's sustainable development and prosperity. They provide multiple services for the country's economy and society, yet not all are visible. Forests also regulate climate and water cycles as well as prevent land erosion, which indirectly make invaluable contributions to the national economy as well as people's livelihoods and resilience, especially vulnerable members of society such as women and ethnic minorities. The value of this resource is being increasingly understood in Viet Nam, with national forest cover increasing from 20% in 1975 to 42% today. However, this expansion is slowing and hiding some important disparities. Natural forests are being converted at an alarming rate, which is eroding invaluable potential economic and environmental benefits.




New Year Greetings from the United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in Viet Nam


On the occasion of New Year 2017, on behalf of the United Nations family in Viet Nam I wish to reiterate our appreciation and express our warmest wishes to our partners and friends throughout the country. We wish our partners and their families in Viet Nam peace, prosperity, good health and happiness in the coming year.

As we enter the second year of the Sustainable Development Goals era, we look forward to continuing our close cooperation for the sake of Viet Nam’s future development; one which is inclusive, equitable and sustainable, with no one left behind.

Youssouf Abdel-Jelil
United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in Viet Nam


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for World AIDS Day, observed on 1 December


Thirty-five years since the emergence of AIDS, the international community can look back with some pride.  But we must also look ahead with resolve and commitment to reach our goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

There has been real progress in tackling the disease. More people than ever are on treatment.  Since 2010, the number of children infected through mother to child transmission has dropped by half. Fewer people die of AIDS related causes each year.  And people living with HIV are living longer lives.

The number of people with access to life-saving medicines has doubled over the past five years, now topping 18 million. With the right investments, the world can get on the fast-track to achieve our target of 30 million people on treatment by 2030.  Access to HIV medicines to prevent mother to child transmission is now available to more than 75 per cent of those in need.


The secretary-general's message for the International Day to End Violence against Women and Girls


25 November 2016 - At long last, there is growing global recognition that violence against women and girls is a human rights violation, public health pandemic and serious obstacle to sustainable development.  Yet there is still much more we can and must do to turn this awareness into meaningful prevention and response.


UNIDO Director General's Op-Ed Article to media on the occasion of UNIDO's 50th anniversary


Did you know that in Viet Nam, the net flow of foreign direct investment increased from USD1billion in 2003 to USD10 billion in 2008, and that by 2015 reached USD23 billion?  Or that the total value of exports rose from USD2 billion in 1990 to USD72 billion in 2010, to reach USD162 billion in 2015? These impressive figures highlight the country’s robust economic success, providing a boost to the economy and employment.

These accomplishments are largely due to the reforms undertaken by Viet Nam since Doi Moi in 1986 which liberalized the economy, attracted foreign investment, fostered exports and reduced poverty. To prepare for reform, Viet Nam received extensive technical assistance from the international community, including from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), well before 1986 and, more precisely, since 1978.

For more than 35 years, UNIDO has been sharing international best practices to help Viet Nam develop inclusive and sustainable industry. With more than USD100 million in expenditure, UNIDO’s technical cooperation activities have been carried out across a broad range of fields, including support to the private sector and technical and industrial research organizations, facilitation of technology transfer, trade capacity-building, human resource development, environmental protection, energy efficiency, investment promotion and responsible business practices.


Call for participation - Volunteering for SDGs – UNV Vietnam Facebook Photo Contest

Volunteering for Sustainable Development Goals – UNV Vietnam Facebook Photo Contest

On the occasion of International Youth Day (IYD) celebration event organized by the UN in Vietnam "Vietnamese Youth: Partners in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals", the UNV Field Unit (FU) in Vietnam is thrilled to launch its Facebook Photo Contest – "Volunteering for Sustainable Development Goals". Vietnamese Youth is a driving force of Volunteerism and has an important role to play in achieving SDGs, including through Volunteer activities. Show the world how you contribute to achieving the SDGs by Volunteering! Either you are a young volunteer or any other kind of volunteer, you are welcome to join the contest!