Vietnam: Rural Poor

Roughly 70 per cent of the Vietnamese population is engaged in agricultural activities.

Meanwhile, the country’s poorest rural people generally have small plots of low-quality land or are landless, and their opportunities for off-farm employment are scarce. The poorest people live in remote villages in upland areas, with limited access to transportation and social interaction. Rural poor people have limited access to productive resources and basic financial services such as credit and savings. Village, commune, district and regional infrastructure is poorly developed. Rural poor people face harsh natural conditions and frequent natural disasters. They are particularly vulnerable to seasonal hardships, community-wide crises and unexpected events, such as disease, which increase a household’s expenses and reduce income. Poor households tend to include more dependants, especially children. Among age groups, poverty disproportionately affects children. Poor people, particularly ethnic minorities, are often uninformed about their rights and lack access to legal assistance.

The poorest people in Viet Nam include:

  • members of the country’s 53 ethnic minority groups, who depend mainly on forest resources for a livelihood (they constitute only 13 per cent of the population but account for almost 30 per cent of poor people)
  • people living in remote upland areas with a poor natural resource base
  • people living in coastal areas that are more prone to adverse climatic events
  • households headed by women
  • households with disabled members
  • migrants
  • landless people

There are broad regional variations in the distribution of poverty. The regions with the highest relative poverty rates include the north-west, north-central, central highlands, central coast and north-east. But in terms of absolute numbers, more poor people live in the north-central and north-east regions, in the Mekong Delta and central coastal regions, which are home to seven out of 10 of Viet Nam’s poor people.

Pray for those whose lives are defined by the struggle for survival each day, and for Christians to bring good news and developmental change.

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