Poverty in Ho Chi Minh City

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HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — Vietnam has a population of almost 90 million people. Thirty million of its residents live in urban areas, totaling 34 percent of the population. Since adopting the Millennium goals, Vietnam has seen a marked change in poverty throughout the country. Across all demographics, including ethnic, regional and religious, Vietnamese populations have decreased in poverty.

Of the eight Millennium Development goals, Vietnam as a country has had particular progress with Goal One, extreme hunger and poverty reduction. In regards to poverty, as of 1993, the poverty rate in Vietnam was 58.1 percent, as of 2008, Vietnam had reduced poverty to 14.5 percent.

There has also been a decrease in hunger. The food poverty rate has been reduced over 66 percent and the rate of malnutrition by 29 percent. However, in urban areas, such as Ho Chi Minh City, a reduction in poverty lags.

Until 1975, Ho Chi Minh City or HCMC was known as Saigon. It is the largest city in the country and sits at the mouth of the Mekong Delta. The city itself has almost one million residents and grows at 3.6 percent a year. The average household in HCMC is 3.1.

In Vietnam, a poor household is defined as a household that earns less than 16 million Vietnam Dong or $755 annually, and the nearly poor are defined as those households in which less than 21 million Vietnam Dong or $991 is earned but more than $755. Based on these definitions, HCMC has 130,000 poor households and 50,000 near-poor households. Six different groups exist among these two populations: the poor, elderly, street vendors, squatters and homeless, those with too many children, migrants, sick or disabled. Vietnam is a place that is considered high risk for major infectious disease contraction. The diseases include Hepatitis A, Typhoid Fever which are water or food borne, and Dengue Fever and Japanese Encephalitis, all of which have vaccines.

Fifty-four percent of the population of HCMC have no access to social security. Twenty-five percent of the city does not have access to livable living quarters, while 13.5 percent do not have access to health care at all. Over 33 percent have no access to tap water or waste and sewage drains.

By comparison to other Asian urban areas, 20 percent in the urban areas of the Philippines and 33 percent in urban Indonesia do not have access to clean water. In addition to seven percent of the urban areas in the Philippines and 11 percent of the urban areas in Indonesia who do not have proper sanitation.

The wealthy own 29.9 percent of the gross national income—less than 11 percent of the population. Poverty is widespread in Vietnam and affects the urban population negatively. Foreign aid policies, such as the Food and Peace Reform Act S.525, would allow the United States to provide non-emergency foreign assistance in the form of commodities, as well as additional resources to combat the hunger and food crisis of Ho Chi Minh City.

Erika Wright

Sources: The Diplomat, Facts and Details, Index Mundi, Tuoitre News, UNDP, U.N., The World Bank
Photo: Colors N Spirits

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