Poorest and Disadvantaged in Focus in Finnish Programme

Finland’s Development Cooperation in Vietnam: Poorest and Disadvantaged in Focus in the Finnish Support and Technical Assistance to the Programme P135 Phase 2 Managed by the Committee for Ethnic Minorities

Poverty reduction and improving the conditions for the most disadvantaged are among the top priorities for Finland’s development cooperation in Vietnam. Capacity-building project, whose goal is to make livelihood improvement activities more efficient, now came to an end and it was handed over to the local partner, State Committee for Ethnic Minorities

The goal of the Finnish funded capacity-building project was to improve long-term quality and efficiency of the livelihoods projects in ethnic minority areas in Vietnam. Ethnic minorities are overrepresented among the poor in Vietnam. It can be partly explained with challenging geographical conditions and many mountainous areas still lack basic infrastructure, such as roads and sanitation systems. For instance earning the living becomes harder for rural farmers if there are no proper roads: accessing the market to sell products is difficult and time-consuming. In order to reduce poverty and improve livelihood for ethnic minorities better infrastructure is needed, and it is vital that projects are efficient.

In less than three years the Finnish funded project has made good achievements in supporting Committee for Ethnic Minorities and local communes with their livelihood improvement operations. Activities of the project included training and capacity-building for central and local staff working in the field of livelihood improvement and disadvantaged groups. Officials in eight provinces participated in capacity-building activities to learn how to implement the livelihood improvement activities efficiently and suitably with vulnerable groups. They strengthened their skills and knowledge on planning, implementing, monitoring activities and evaluating results of those activities as well as on issues related to ethnic minorities and the special conditions of mountainous areas.

The project was part of the Finland’s joined efforts with other donors to support Vietnam Government’s five years socio-economic development programme in mountainous and ethnic minority areas, known as the Programme 135 Phase 2. P135 aims to reduce poverty and improve living conditions of the ethnic minority people by diversifying income-generating opportunities and investing in basic infrastructure: roads, water, sanitation, electricity, schools and health care stations.

According to the progress report 2010, poverty has decreased from 47% in 2006 to 31% in 2009 within communities that received support. At the handover ceremony Mr. Ha Hung, Vice Chairman of Committee for Ethnic Minorities, stated that in Vietnam, ethnic minorities constitute a high proportion of poor people, and experience very poor living conditions and limited access to the mainstream development of the country.

In the hand-over ceremony Ms Elina Poikonen, Charge d’Affaires a.i., emphasized the long-term impacts of the project:

“Training and equipping people with skills that help them to help ethnic minorities in improving the livelihood of their family and their children is an important tool in ensuring the sustainability of the project. We are very glad to see that our project has contributed to this. We are also proud that it has been considered as a good supporting model for grass root level in implementing the poverty reduction policies of the Government of Vietnam. We wish this momentum will be kept for your coming efforts in the program in future.”

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