Viet Nam

Vietnam has experienced successful economic growth in recent years, transforming from one of the poorest countries in the world into a lower middle-income country by 2010. Vietnam’s poverty rate fell from 58 percent in 1993 to 14.5 percent in 2008 (World Bank 2012), and the country has reached five of the 10 original Millennium Development Goals. Vietnam aims to continue its growth and reach middle-income status through the Socio-Economic Development Strategy (SEDS) 2011-2020. This strategy focuses on structural reforms, environmental sustainability, social equity, and emerging issues of macroeconomic stability. It emphasizes three "breakthrough areas": (i) promoting human resources/skills development , (ii) improving market institutions, and (iii) developing infrastructure. SEDS’ overall goal is to lay the foundations for a modern, industrialized society by 2020.

Vietnam is one of the biggest rice exporters in the world. The agricultural sector accounts for over 22 percent of the country’s GDP, 30 percent of the country’s exports, and 52 percent of the country’s employment (IFAD 2012). Agricultural growth was accelerated in recent decades through a combination of improved land use, irrigation, technology adoption, and the use of incentives to encourage investment. Specifically, price liberalization and land titling policies created dramatic shifts in agricultural growth and productivity.

Despite the country’s growth, Vietnam’s rural populations continue to face challenges in overcoming poverty. Many rural farmers are landless or have access only to small plots of low-quality land, and opportunities for off-farm employment continue to be scarce. Rural villages, particularly in the country’s upland and coastal areas, face frequent natural disasters and are vulnerable to negative seasonal weather patterns. Most 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 Vietnam’s poor. Members of the country’s 53 ethnic minority groups face particular hardships; these groups account for only 13 percent of Vietnam’s population but 30 percent of the country’s poor (IFAD 2012).