Vietnam too Rich for Development Assistance

Within the last couple of years Vietnam has experienced a tremendous economic growth. This has lifted a great part of the population out of poverty. As a part of Denmark’s new Asia Strategy Danida is therefore in the process of out phasing its programs in Vietnam. However, this does not mean that Denmark is leaving Vietnam all at once, Executive Chief in The Ministry of Foreign Affair’s Asia office Sus Ulbæk says to “Udvikling”. She explains that Danida is going to plan a substantial phase out of development assistance in order to make sure that the programs that are running at the moment will be sustainable in the future. Vietnam will receive its last fund grant from Danida in 2012. The money will last for a couple of years and it will be a while before the Danish advisers have left Vietnam.
    However, the difference between rich and poor is huge in Vietnam as it is in most Asian countries. And the social inequalities are growing. Senior Researcher Irene Nørlund from Nordic Institute of Asian Studies hopes that Danida will keep focusing on poverty reduction in Vietnam in the future.  “Even thought things are better in Vietnam the problem is that a lot of people are still very poor. And this is something which need to be prioritized”, she says to “Udvikling”. According to Irene Nørlund, Danida’s work with poverty reduction in the North Western corner of Vietnam is groundbreaking. This is because other donors tend to operate in other areas where they are certain that their money will bring results. Also, the Vietnamese government has been careful about letting international donors work among ethnic minorities in the distant provinces where the risk of unrest and riots is high. This is one of the reasons why Irene Nørlund thinks Vietnam is still to weak to manage without the Danish development assistance. But according to the Danish government, Danida has fulfilled its role in Vietnam. Sus Ulbæk says that the purpose of development assistance is to leave once the countries can manage without assistance. Other countries in the world would benefit more from Danish development assistance than Vietnam.
    Sus Ulbæk does not want to clarify exactly how and which activities Danida is planning to phase out. She emphasizes that Denmark it is only the program corporation Denmark is going to end. Vietnam will still need support for environmental projects, good governance, and private sector development. Vietnam has been one of Denmark’s program corporation countries since 1993. The Danish Minister for Development Ulla Tørnsæs said at the presentation of the government’s new Asia Strategy that it is uncertain whether Denmark will find a new program corporation country instead of Vietnam, or if the donor aid to Asia should be restructured. At the moment 28 per cent of Denmark’s total bilateral aid is given to Asia.

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