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The last 25 years have seen rapid economic growth in Vietnam, but inequality persists especially among women, ethnic minority groups, and people living in remote areas. Millions of people are trapped in poorly paid and precarious work. And the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed informal workers unprotected by social security as well as a huge burden of unpaid care work undertaken by women in the country.
Oxfam started its work in Vietnam in 1955. Since the late 1980s, we have been implementing long-term development projects across the country. Although Vietnam achieved lower middle-income status in 2010, a lack of investment in education, health care, and civic engagement for the most impoverished parts of society further undermines the country's prospects for a better future.
We believe that equality is essential for a just society – a society in which everyone, regardless of gender, has equal access to resources and opportunities. We work with our partners in government, civil society, business, the media, and academia to influence policy and change the systems that sustain inequality. To ensure lasting change, we work to help people survive short-term emergencies, and support programs that address the long-term solutions to poverty and injustice.
How to help people in Vietnam
Donate to help people in Vietnam and all around the world not just survive, but thrive.
Women in Vietnam experience one or more forms of violence and controlling behaviors by their husbands in their lifetime.
of poor people in Vietnam come from ethnic minority groups.
of farmers in Vietnam are small-scale, and vulnerable to the climate crisis.
What is Oxfam doing to help people in Vietnam?
Oxfam’s innovative work with partners in Vietnam to fight inequality helps people survive immediate crises in the short term, and tackles the root causes of poverty and injustice over the long term.
HELPING PEOPLE IN VIETNAM SURVIVE IN THE SHORT TERM
Recovering from massive storms and flooding
In October 2020, a succession of typhoons swept across the South China Sea, and hit the central coast of Vietnam. Every week there was a new storm, each dumping massive amounts of rain and lashing the region with high winds, destroying homes and agricultural fields, and triggering mudslides and flooding in the 14 river systems crisscrossing the region. It was the worst weather in 20 years. The government estimated that seven million people in 12 central provinces were affected by the storms, and 1.3 million were in need of humanitarian assistance. One hundred and thirty people died, and more than 274,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, along with more than 22,000 acres of rice and vegetable crops.
Oxfam worked with local- and national-level partners to deliver hygiene kits (with soap and other items), water tanks and buckets to hold clean water, and promoted good hygiene practices like handwashing to help people avoid diseases, including COVID-19. Oxfam’s response reached 183,000 people in four hardest-hit provinces (91,000 were women and girls, and 896 were people living with disabilities). Working closely with the people affected by the storms, we have paid people to rebuild 12,000 meters (7.45 miles) of roads, and dredge 29,000 meters (18 miles) of irrigation canals. This has helped 9,000 flood-stricken households get back to work in their agricultural fields and farms. Of 3,345 households participating in the cash-for-work projects, nearly half (48 percent) of the participating workers were poor women and women with disabilities.
Assisting migrant workers affected by COVID-19
The COVID-19 resurgence in southern Vietnam in 2021 devastated vulnerable people. More than 50 percent of working-age people lost their jobs or saw their incomes reduced. The average income of workers in the city decreased by 40 percent compared to the national average. More than 80 percent of workers in the informal sector, most of whom are in already disadvantaged groups, were out of jobs due to social distancing.
In 2021, Oxfam in Vietnam provided $135,596 to 2,031 migrant workers (including 1,722 females and 51 people living with disabilities) in the districts most severely affected by an outbreak of COVID-19 in southern Vietnam. Oxfam worked closely with three partners in the worst-affected areas: Center for Disability and Development, the Center for Social Work Research and Community Development, and Social Life Institute. Their assessments showed that many informal migrant workers lost their jobs and income due to prolonged social distancing, and had few other options for receiving support. Oxfam and our partners provided cash grants to help workers purchase essentials such as food and medicine, established a complaint mechanism, and provided psychological support to the worst-affected informal workers.
The resurgence of COVID-19 in December 2021 presented major challenges to informal workers in Ho Chi Minh city and Binh Duong province (two out of the five areas with the highest number of reported cases). In early 2022, with additional funding support from Oxfam America and the New Zealand government, Oxfam and local humanitarian partners provided essential support to 2,300 informal workers with disabilities, disadvantaged street vendors, small family businesses and shops, and lottery tickets sellers who were severely affected by the epidemic.
HELPING PEOPLE IN VIETNAM THRIVE OVER THE LONG TERM
Advocating for women and equal opportunity
Women in Vietnam continue to experience discrimination and often lack economic and political opportunities. Gender-based violence remains widespread; about 58 percent of married women aged 18 to 60 experience some form of violence at the hands of their husbands or intimate partners at least once in their lifetime.
Oxfam is working with local communities, civil society organizations, government agencies, and academia to help increase women’s confidence as well as their decision-making role in families and communities. This has been done through raising awareness of gender equality among men and women, challenging gender stereotypes through influencing the media, campaigning with and for youth to challenge harmful gender norms, helping women to increase their incomes, and influencing policies to enhance equal opportunities for men and women. In 2021, Oxfam engaged more than 6,000 young people in a project designed to raise awareness of negative gender stereotypes and promote gender equity.
Oxfam and partners also research ways that government programs designed to help people in the pandemic could be more aware of gender violence, and recommended specific policies and other measures to reduce violence. In one of our projects to promote more women’s leadership, Oxfam and our partners provided political skills training to help women participate in public activities in 180 villages in Vietnam. The project equips women with the capabilities and knowledge about how the local political system works for them to turn their ideas into action at the village and commune levels.
Promoting social accountability and empowered citizens
Oxfam and our partners are helping citizens, particularly marginalized people living in poverty and enduring injustices, to access more information, hold the government accountable, and raise their voices on the issues that affect their lives. We help train and encourage people to participate in public debates, influence policies, and monitor implementation of programs created to help them. Oxfam supports decision-making processes that are fair, transparent, and enable citizens to participate effectively. Trainings and other support are organized for vulnerable groups such as women, people living with disabilities, and ethnic minorities to understand more about their legal rights. We connect civil society actors and the private sector to create new networks and a shared civic space. We also work with the business community to ensure fair and inclusive financing for development and toward improved corporate governance.
Oxfam helped more than 3,000 workers from 28 provinces participate in an innovative citizen feedback mechanism to voice their opinions about the government’s COVID-19 support package. In another 2022 initiative, more than 129,000 women, ethnic minorities, and children learned about their legal rights under various laws and government policies designed to help the most vulnerable Vietnamese citizens. We helped more than 9,000 people from vulnerable groups get legal advice in administrative, civil, and criminal matters, and provided emergency assistance to 641 migrant garbage collectors, street venders, and people living with disabilities to help them survive pandemic-related economic shocks.
Empowering small-scale farmers
As part of the program to assist small-scale farmers and vulnerable people, especially ethnic minorities and women, Oxfam supports groups that are advocating for better natural resource management and agricultural policies that enhance their resilience against climate change and disaster risks. In 2020-2021, Oxfam helped about 63,000 smallholder farmers as part of this program, 56% of them women.
Our partners advocated for sustainable master plans for rice production in three provinces, for clam production in three provinces, and master plans for growing bamboo in two provinces. Oxfam’s partners helped push for sustainable and inclusive business standards for seafood and aquaculture companies to work with small- and medium-sized businesses, many of which include women workers. In its efforts to help small-scale farmers, in 2020-2021 Oxfam helped 58,200 smallholder farmers (55 percent of them women) to improve their livelihoods through business and marketing training. We have developed and introduced an environmentally friendly gasification technology for 6,000 small scale agri-businesses that makes use of agricultural waste.
Vietnam is one of six countries worst hit by climate change. Poor people, women, ethnic minorities, and other marginalized groups are the most affected. We are helping to build resilience in these high-risk communities, so they are better able to mitigate disasters and adapt to the effects of climate change.
How to help people in Vietnam
Donate to help people in Vietnam and around the world not just survive, but thrive.
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