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UNFPA Representative says migration a fact, urges pre-emptive policies

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Migration is contributes to growth of HCM city - Photo by Truong Viet Hung
Migration contributes to growth of HCM City - Photo by Truong Viet Hung
Ha Noi
- The Representative of UNFPA in Viet Nam, Mr Ian Howie, spoke with the Vietnamese newspaper Countryside Today on 1 September 2008 about the issues of migration and urban development in Viet Nam.

Viet Nam is facing massive rural to urban migration. What are the positive and negative aspects of this trend?

Migration from rural areas to urban ones is a reality in Viet Nam and one that must be accepted and addressed to ensure urbanization is the positive force it can be. Cities often concentrate poverty, but they also represent poor people’s best hope of escaping it. Viet Nam’s cities play a key role in the country’s development as engines of economic, social and cultural development. This would not be possible without the many migrants who contribute to this development through their work, often in factories.

The reasons for Vietnamese migrating to urban areas are numerous. Most move in search of employment or to improve their living conditions. In short, people move to cities in hope of a better life – for themselves and also for their families. Wages are higher in urban than in rural areas, there are more jobs in the cities, services are generally better, as are educational opportunities. The positive impacts or rural to urban migration are often obvious for the individuals who migrate and are able to access these opportunities, and for their families who benefit from the money spent home to them. Migrants often do difficult and dangerous jobs that are necessary for cities to run smoothly – they collect rubbish, they sell fruit, they work at construction sites – and their social and economic contributions are significant for the cities in which they reside and for society as a whole.

It is true that there are also numerous challenges relating to urbanization in Viet Nam and elsewhere. Rural to urban migrants are often poor. They tend to live in overcrowded, polluted and dangerous conditions. The pressures of urban lifestyle can cause stress, especially for women, who are largely responsible for food, water, sanitation and household management. Many urban migrants, are young. They may be sexually active – indeed some of them may be forced to undertake risky behaviour like sex work – and they may lack accurate information or the means and services to protect themselves. This puts them at risk of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections like HIV.

The bottom line is that urbanization is reality in Viet Nam. It has to be accepted. The fact that many new urban-dwellers are poor must also be accepted and addressed when planning for this future growth. It is important to adopt pre-emptive policies that address the challenges and embrace the opportunities of urban growth. It is also important that a long term perspective be taken when planning for future urban growth.

In your opinion, what can Vietnamese policymakers do for improve the life of migrants? What has been done and what
more can be done?

I think Vietnamese policymakers understand that urbanization and the movement of people from the countryside to the cities is a complex issue that involves both enormous benefits as well as huge challenges. The challenge for Viet Nam – and for many other developing countries – is to adopt a long-term approach that will enable sustainable economic and social development, that will ensure inclusive distribution of the potential benefits of urbanization rather than widen the gaps between the rich and the poor, and that will ensure the long term liveability of Vietnamese cities. Among other things, this involves planning health and education services to cater for an increasing number of people and looking at the sustainability of urban land use.

Viet Nam has recognized the link between economic growth and urbanization but, as elsewhere in the world, it faces a challenge in addressing the fast rate of urbanization that is currently underway. Ultimately, it is for the Vietnamese Government to decide which policies are best for it, whether in dealing with issues of household registration, deciding on the best way to provide quality services to its people, or ensuring sustainable development – in cities and rural areas. The government has, in the recent past, made several changes to the household registration system, and I rest assured it will continue to review.
During 2005, the Parliamentary Committee for Social Affaires conducted research on urban migration policy and I would like quote the conclusions and recommendations:

  • It was noted there have not been any articles of law promulgated or ordinance proclaimed to specifically regulate urban migration;
  • Migrants should be considered as a driving force in the social and economic development process, in the economic and labour structure transition, in job generation and in sustainable socio-economic development. The Central Executive Committee of Communist Party should address and the Board of Secretary on Central Executive Committee of Communist Party should direct, these issues for local implementation;
  • Parliament should put migration issues into bills, such as the “Bill on residence”. Also it consider preparation of a bill on migration;
  • When finalizing national budget, Parliament should give priority to provinces receiving the most migrants, and use the budget to publicize urban migration issues;
  • More investment should go to rural areas and the development of satellite cities in order to prevent the growth of mega cities;
  • The Government needs to assign a ministry to be the focal agency for the state management of urban migration issues; and
  • The Government should encourage local authorities to look after the living condition of migrant to facilitate the integration of and to prevent migrants being discriminated against.

With the current migration trend, what do you imagine the big cities of Viet Nam will be like in ten years?

In my opinion, if the migration trend from rural to urban continues, as it surely will, the big cities of Viet Nam will become more and more densely populated, as a result of which it will be very difficult to public and private share space, and housing for residents, without strategic interventions to assist in planning urban growth. Increasing densities, combined with rapidly rising land prices, gradual privatization of public spaces, and commercial land, development have reduced the per capita availability of and access by the poor, to these spaces. The combination of motorbikes, auto and industrial pollution is imposing a serious threat to human health and quality of life. Our cities are facing many environmental risks. These new risks, e.g. traffic accidents, environmental pollution, respiratory disease due to industrial air and water pollution will add to long-standing and well-known risks, e.g. waterborne disease due to poor sanitary systems. The high density population also place greater demands, on the social services, such as education and health which will challenge the capacity of those services, and the infrastructure which supports them. The affluent segments of the population are perceived to benefit from development. And, theoretically, with their better resources, to have a greater capacity to protect themselves from both old and new risks. The poor and the disadvantaged suffer from a perilous environment due to their lack of resources. Quality of life issues of become critical policy challenges with rapid expansion of and unstable urbanization in big cities.

International organizations, including UNFPA and UN-Habitat, can do at least three things to help national and local governments, as well as civil society movements, to promote a better future for cities and their residents in the developing world. First, they can help to bring about necessary changes in policy outlook by influencing planners and policymakers to adopt more proactive and creative approaches to urban migration. These approaches should build on, rather than discourage, the efforts of poor individuals and groups to gain more secure, healthy and gainful homes and livelihoods in urban centers. Second, international organization can help demonstrate better ways to reduce rates of urban growth, thereby giving policymakers more leeway to tackling urban problems. The major component of urban growth in today’s developing countries – natural increase – can best be addressed through poverty reduction, promotion of women’s rights and better reproductive health services. Third, international organizations can help policymakers and the different segments of civil society make better decisions regarding the urban future by encouraging them to generate and use solid socio-demographic information.

Tiêu điểm




Ngày 1 tháng 12 năm 2017


Michel Sidibé
Tổng Giám đốc UNAIDS
Phó Tổng thư ký Liên Hợp Quốc

Kỷ niệm ngày Thế giới phòng chống AIDS năm nay, chúng ta cùng nhau nêu bật tầm quan trọng của quyền về sức khỏe và những thách thức mà những người sống với HIV và người có nguy cơ cao lây nhiễm HIV còn đang phải đối mặt trong việc thực hiện quyền về sức khỏe.


Vì một hà nội vui sống, thiết kế không gian công cộng

Hà Nội ngày 17/10/2017 - Với mục tiêu cải thiện môi trường sống của người dân, đồng thời đưa văn hóa nghệ thuật đến với cộng đồng, hướng đến một tương lai đô thị tốt đẹp hơn, Chương trình Định cư Con người Liên Hợp Quốc (UN-Habitat) đã xây dựng dự án "Huy động nguồn lực cộng đồng và sự tham gia của giới trẻ trong kiến tạo không gian công cộng xanh, an toàn tại Quận Hoàn Kiếm" (sau đây gọi tắt là dự án Không gian công cộng) thuộc chương trình Block by Block của Văn phòng Trung ương UN-Habitat và công ty Mojang, nhà sáng lập ứng dụng Minecraft.


Trừng phạt khắc nghiệt đối với trẻ em vi phạm pháp luật không ngăn chặn được tình hình tội phạm người chưa thành niên tiếp tục gia tăng

Độ tuổi chịu trách nhiệm hình sự của trẻ em là một chủ đề gây nhiều tranh cãi trên thế giới. Ở Việt Nam, vấn đề này đang được tranh luận trong quá trình sửa đổi bổ sung Bộ Luật Hình sự. Một số người tranh luận rằng phương thức tiếp cận "cứng rắn với tội phạm" là cần thiết để trừng phạt trẻ em nhằm phòng ngừa tình trạng phạm tội tiếp diễn.

Tuy nhiên, nghiên cứu quốc tế chỉ ra rằng do trẻ em còn đang trong giai đoạn phát triển, việc gán cho trẻ em và đối xử với trẻ em như những tội phạm ở độ tuổi nhỏ có thể tác động tiêu cực nghiêm trọng đến sự phát triển và khả năng cải tạo, phục hồi thành công của trẻ.


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


Thông điệp của Tổng Thư Ký LHQ Ban Ki-moon nhân Ngày thế giới phòng chống AIDS, 1 tháng 12


Ngày hôm nay, 35 năm sau khi AIDS xuất hiện, toàn thế giới đã có thể tự hào khi nhìn lại các nỗ lực phòng chống dịch. Nhưng chúng ta cũng phải hướng về phía trước với quyết tâm và cam kết chấm dứt dịch AIDS vào năm 2030.

Thế giới đã đạt được những bước tiến thực sự to lớn. Số người được điều trị HIV đã tăng cao hơn bao giờ hết. Kể từ năm 2010, số trẻ em bị nhiễm HIV do lây truyền từ mẹ đã giảm một nửa. Cứ mỗi năm số người tử vong do AIDS lại giảm thêm. Và những người nhiễm HIV đang ngày càng có tuổi thọ dài hơn.

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