After two decades of economic growth, Vietnam is now classified as a middle-income country. The number of poor people who live on one US dollar per day fell from 60 per cent in the early 1990’s to 12 per cent in 2008.
After introducing market-oriented economic reforms, the communist single-party state is one of the fastest growing economies in the region and social standards are relatively good compared to other developing countries. But despite economic growth, more than one in ten of the country’s 90 million people still live in poverty. Most of them live in mountain districts and belong to minority groups.
Ruling Communist Party
Human rights are still restricted in Vietnam. Blogging regime critics are persecuted and could be sentenced to long prison terms. Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are very restricted and spreading information that is critical of the government is a criminal offense.
The Communist Party controls all of Vietnam’s political organisations. There is no division of power; the Communist Party is responsible for all legislative, legal and executive power.
Problems of overexploitation
Vietnam faces many problems regarding sustainable development, such as the overexploitation of natural resources, lack of energy, and environmental degradation.
It is also vulnerable to natural disasters, such as storms and floods along its long coastline and climate change could hit the country hard.
There is a will in the country to address these issues, evident in the recently adopted strategy Green Growth, which was partially funded by Sweden. Partner driven cooperation between Swedish and Vietnamese actors has generated considerable interest from both sides, especially in the areas of environment and climate. Interventions have been carried out to raise awareness in schools and to address the effects of climate change.
More than 90 per cent of the adults can read and statistics show that men and women are relatively equal in terms of education, life expectancy and participation in the labour market.
However, women in the rural areas often have less access to education and jobs. A number of new laws to improve women’s rights have been adopted by the national assembly, such as a gender equality law and a law against domestic violence.
Now it is important to spread knowledge of these laws and make sure that they are applied.
Sida’s focus areas in Vietnam:
- Human rights
- Democratic development