Support to Reform and Innovate Vietnam Social Assistance Programmes

5:42:13 PM | 8/29/2014

The focus of reform is to strengthen the social assistance service delivery system by reducing the fragmentation of services, improving targeting through building a strong database on recipients, and adopting more efficient delivery mechanisms. Particular emphasis is placed on ensuring that poor children get the assistance needed to help achieve their full potential and hence break the intergenerational transmission of poverty.
The Vietnam Social Assistance System Strengthening Project (SASSP) was recently launched, with the goal of developing and piloting innovations in management and service delivery in four provinces in north, central and southern Vietnam as a first step towards nationwide implementation. Vice Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Trong Dam said that despite being a poor country, Vietnam has continuously issued new social assistance policies to enable the country to achieve the millennium development goals (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 Vietnam’s development. The objective therefore is to build a consolidated and modernised 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 programme consolidation and improving the effectiveness of public spending on social assistance. In the four pilot project provinces (Ha Giang, Quang Nam, Lam Dong and Tra Vinh province), the project will test the strengthened, consolidated cash transfer programme 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 programme 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. The project aims to support efficiency enhancing reforms to the social assistance system,” said Victoria Kwakwa, the World Bank (WB) Country Director to Vietnam.
The project supports the Government’s overall objective of poverty reduction through emphasising the role of a social assistance system enabling poor children to reach their full potential and break the intergenerational transmission of poverty.
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; and programme administrators at the provincial and central levels will benefit from enhanced ability to monitor program implementation and support for policy formulation.
The project is a product of a partnership involving the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOSILA), the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Bank (WB). 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.
Anh Mai