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Implementing a Master Plan for Social Assistance Reform and Development

Low numbers of people are currently covered by Vietnam’s existing fragmented social assistance system.

Only 10 per cent of households had access to a transfer, and more than two-thirds of those living in the worst poverty received no transfers at all, according to the latest available figures. And although poverty rates have fallen in Vietnam over the past 30 years, the figures, from 2012 suggest income disparities are significant and 80 per cent of the population still lived on less than US$4 a day.

The Government of Vietnam and UNICEF moved to address this with a masterplan setting out aspirations for major reforms to better tackle inequality and poverty. We were engaged in 2018 to help make these plans to expand cash assistance to new groups of young children and older persons a reality.

We are providing the technical support necessary to UNICEF and the Government developing a comprehensive action plan with priority actions, time-bound targets, and areas where further evidence is needed. The result will be a roadmap setting out the path towards full implementation of the ambitious reform agenda. This will aim to provide a minimum social protection floor and expand services for the high proportion of the population in Vietnam that is experiencing income insecurity and risks falling into poverty.

The project launched in 2018 with a workshop to agree a Theory of Change framework with the Government in Ho Chi Minh. With our partners, we brought together ideas about priority areas for social policy reform and concrete steps to take them forwards.

UNICEF appointed us because of our extensive knowledge of public policy, social protection and social assistance, and good understanding of Vietnam’s current social assistance system and the Master Plan’s vision and principles.