News Column

Support to Reform and Innovation in Vietnam's Social Assistance Program

August 7, 2014



HANOI, Vietnam, Aug. 7 -- World Bank issued the following news release:

The Vietnam Social Assistance System Strengthening Project (http://www.worldbank.org/projects/P123960?lang=en) was officially launched today, with the goal of developing and piloting innovations in management and service delivery in four provinces in north, central and south Vietnam as a first step towards nationwide implementation. According to Vice Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Trong Dam: "Despite being a poor country, the Government of Viet Nam has continuously issued new social assistance policies to enable the country to achieve the MDGs, including the goal of reducing poverty. However, there exist too many social assistance policies, creating a huge burden on management systems and difficulties for beneficiaries, leading to low uptake. The current management system has not kept pace with the speed of Viet Nam's development. Our objective therefore is to build a consolidated and modernized social assistance system which lays the foundation for delivery of social assistance in the long term."

The project will consolidate existing database into a national database of poor and near-poor households and social assistance beneficiaries, laying the foundation for program consolidation and improving the effectiveness of public spending on social assistance. In the four pilot project provinces (Hr Giang, QuasPoundsng Nam, Lam Dat"ng and Trr Vinh), the project will test the strengthened, consolidated cash transfer program by putting existing and new cash transfers for poor households with children and pregnant women into a "family package" which can guarantee income security for poor households in the long run. The program will be delivered through improved management and service delivery systems.

"Vietnam has an established system of social assistance cash and in-kind transfers. But the system is not as effective as it could be in addressing Vietnam's poverty challenges today." According to Victoria Kwakwa, the World Bank Country Director to Vietnam, "The project aims to support efficiency enhancing reforms to the social assistance system. I sincerely hope that the project will be implemented quickly and successfully and form the basis for scaling up improvements nationwide."

The Project supports the Government's overall objective of poverty reduction through emphasizing the role of social assistance system for enabling poor children to reach their full potential and break the intergenerational transmission of poverty. "I am happy to see that the Government of Viet Nam has prioritised its youngest citizens under the proposed cash transfer", stated Mr. Jesper Moller, Acting Representative of UNICEF in Viet Nam. "UNICEF views this as a sound economic investment that will better equip the future generations to sustain the country's rapid development amid demographic change."

In four pilot project provinces, the poor families with children and pregnant women will receive benefits and parenting advice in a timely and accessible manner; local social officers will benefit through simplification of processes and associated reduction in workload; program administrators at the provincial and central level will benefit from enhanced ability to monitor program implementation and support for policy formulation.

The project is a product of a partnership involving MOLISA, UNICEF, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Bank. The funding of US$ 60 million for the Project comes from the International Development Association, the World Bank Group's lending arm for low income countries on blend terms.

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