Population: 96.48 million
Poverty rate: 5.7%
Vietnam has made tremendous strides in economic development since the Doi Moi in 1986, lifting millions of people out of poverty.
However, poverty remains a stark reality for nearly 5.5 million Vietnamese. Ninety per cent of those in poverty live in rural areas and have difficulty accessing education, employment, public services, and markets. Ethnic minorities are also over-represented in the ranks of the poor – while Vietnam’s 53 ethnic groups make up only 15 per cent of the population, they account for 86 per cent in poverty. Read more on development challenges in Vietnam
Action on Poverty (AOP) in Vietnam
AOP started working in Vietnam in 1989, and was the first Australian NGO to open a representative office in Vietnam in 1996. AOP is best known for its pioneering work in developing community-based biological control programs for dengue fever in Vietnam. From this work in the health sector, we have expanded our programs to water and sanitation, climate change, governance, and sustainable livelihoods, helping people, especially ethnic minorities and women, to identify their available resources and strengths to develop further.
Over 30 years working in Vietnam, our activities span 35 provinces from the north to the south, developing close relationships with the communities we work with, as well as with our partners in government and civil society. As a community-based approach is key to project design at AOP, we work directly with local communities in Vietnam in open dialogue to understand their needs and how we can best help.
In November 2019, AOP in Vietnam received the Order of Friendship – the President of Vietnam’s highest honour for foreign individuals or organisations, in recognition for our significant contributions to poverty reduction and sustainable development in the country.
Civil Society Organisations
Youth take the lead in community development
Trang is the owner of Lake View Homestay, a traditional stilt house in Da Bia, Vietnam, that welcomes guests from around the world.
She is also Da Bia’s coordinator for the award-winning tourism enterprise in her region. In this role, she ensures the benefits of tourism are shared equally among tourism service providers in Da Bia.
Da Bia is located in the north-west Hoa Binh province – a remote, mountainous area where around 30 per cent of people remain trapped below the poverty line.
Trang moved away from Da Bia when she was still in high school to pursue her studies. After school, she took a job at a technology company but found the work boring and the pay unreliable. She was also concerned about her parents’ health and decided to move back home in 2016.
When she came home, Trang found a lot of changes. With Action on Poverty’s support, Da Bia had begun to develop tourism services, such as homestays and guided tours, to bring income to local families who were struggling to survive as farmers. Trang noticed that people were earning more, the village was cleaner, and the community had more environmental awareness.
Although she had been thinking of becoming a teacher, she changed her mind and decided to join the tourism project. Trang took on the role of coordinator in February 2017. With 39 households in Da Bia, and at least one person in each house involved with tourism, her job is busy!
“The best thing about my job is being able to meet many different people, especially foreigners, so I can learn more English,” said Trang.
“Because I am a local, I have the advantage when working with the community and guiding them in sustainable development.”
In January 2018, Trang and her family also opened their own homestay. “Our homestay has a great view with good ventilation. I have made personal touches, such as the lamp covers and recycled pot plants.”
Trang has a strong vision for sustainable tourism in her community. “We don’t want to attract as many visitors as possible, but people who care about the community they’re visiting,” she said. “I also want to study further in tourism so I can better help my community.”
Trang is always striving to learn and grow. In August 2021, Trang officially joined our team in Vietnam after six months of internship in our Community-based Tourism project. Now, in her new role as a Field Coordinator, she uses her knowledge and experience to help many more communities in the northern mountainous regions to thrive and leads them in sustainable development.
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