Leaders of Central Highlands' provinces yesterday called for more support from the Government to help reduce poverty through sustainable, community-based programmes.
An online discussion on the Government's website gathered the deputy chairmen and chairwomen of the People's Committees of Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Lam Dong provinces.
| Young people attend a tho cam (brocade) fabric weaving class in the Agriculture Encouragement Centre in the Central Highland province of Dak Lak. The shortage of jobs and training for ethnic minority workers is still a challenge in highland provinces. |
In 2011, Kon Tum Province reduced the percentage of poor households to nearly 28 per cent, Dak Nong to 26.8 per cent, Lam Dong to 9.1 per cent and Dak Lak to 24.6 per cent.
Despite significant progress in poverty reduction, these provinces are still struggling to implement programmes that can reach remote areas. Challenges remain, including the shortage of jobs and training for ethnic minority workers, the lack of funding to provide adequate housing, social protection policies for the poor and pressure in dealing with migrants.
Mang Dung, deputy chairman of Gia Lai People's Committee, said poverty reduction programmes must be built based on the specific needs of each group or community.
"We need to approach poverty reduction using scientific methods," he said. "We have to fully understand the needs of each community, otherwise all efforts could be wasted."
One way the province has tried to reduce poverty has been to give ethnic minority residents jobs in rubber and coffee plants. Still, only around half of the 24,000 workers toiling in the province's 95,000 hectares of rubber tree-growing area are ethnic minorities, and that number is only 12 per cent for those farming the 77,000 hectares of coffee fields.
While Dung admitted that these numbers were quite modest, he said the efforts to create jobs for poor ethnic minorities have been hindered by their lack of skills and training.
"I think we need to implement more effectively the Government's decision to support businesses that hire ethnic minority workers," he said. "They must also be equipped with better vocational training and other necessary skills."
In addition, Gia Lai has also been working to attract investment from businesses and individuals in poverty reduction programmes that would allow residents easy access to credit and loans. The province has also worked to make sure social protection policies are in place for the poor.
The Central Highlands' leaders also emphasised the need to determine the level of support given to poor households in each specific region and group that qualify for care under the Government's national poverty reduction programmes.
"We have to know what factors create poverty in each region or community," said Bui Thi Hoa, deputy chairwoman of the Dak Nong People's Committee. "Poverty reduction policies have to support each region according to their specific needs and regional characteristics."
Dak Lak also shifted its focus to poverty reduction programmes that are more community-based in its overall plan for the period 2011-20.
Mai Hoan Nie KDam, deputy chairwoman of the Dak Lak People's Committee, acknowledged that many households still dropped back below the poverty line.
For the period 2011-2015, the province considered 30 communes and 85 hamlets to be characterised by "extreme conditions". Priority would also be given to developing infrastructure in border districts and districts listed among the nation's 62 poorest.
At the community level, she said efforts would be made to implement specialised growth models, raise the level of access to technology and increase residents' awareness about these efforts. An official with expertise in poverty reduction would be allocated to communes with a poverty rate of more than 20 per-cent.
In terms of housing support, Dak Lak provided funding directly to the household instead of through the local People's Committees, which made the residents "more active" in building and protecting their houses, Mai Hoan Nie KDam said.
Several provinces also raised concerns over unplanned migrants. Dak Lak estimated that the province has received more than 288,000 unplanned migrants since 1976, most of which are ethnic minorities from northern and coastal provinces.
"This has created pressure on the province in terms of creating zoning and other socio-economic development policies," Mai Hoan Nie KDam said. "In addition, it also added to the problems of deforestation, land disputes and other social problems."
She suggested that the Government should pay more attention to provinces where these migrants come from to assist them in stabilising their lives.
Hoa of Dak Nong Province said the province has been implementing 11 projects to provide stable accomodation for unplanned migrants, but only one-fourth of the necessary funding has been allocated for the task.