Vietnam and Zero Hunger
Written by: Sarah Le
Edited by: Stuti Kulshreshtha
Vietnam - a Southeast Asian country with a rapid economic growth over the past 2 decades has proven its potential in reaching the Zero Hunger Goal. With a dramatic reduction in poverty from 58% to only 11.8% between 1993 and 2011, a parallel trend of hunger is presented in Vietnam. In fact, by 2018, only 6.4% of the population is considered undernourished, much below the world average. Despite showing a steady decline, the ethic minority populations remain in need for better solutions to have sufficient nutritions.
The causes of hunger in Vietnam vary:
Imbalance income and spending
Due to the rapid economic growth, expenses for daily needs have increased significantly in recent years, making it difficult for the low-income class to adapt to such changes. On average, the monthly income of a citizen is $200 while the spending exceeds $300 per month. This remarkable issue results in the poor quality of life many Vietnamese have, including the lack of access to nutrients on a daily basis.
Poverty rates and education levels
According to the UN, over 9 millions Vietnameses live in extreme poverty. Education in Vietnam is not free of cost, therefore, it is not unusual for these children to not have the opportunity to go to school. Low educational level means the inability to get jobs that provide a sufficient income for these individuals, making them and their future generations forever suffer with the lack of food.
Weather and natural disasters
In the center of Vietnam, droughts and floods occur frequently. While relying greatly on agricultural exports, Vietnameses face huge challenges with environmental disasters as they have negative impacts on food production. Moreover, with the traditional practices, most farmers have no experience with modern techniques that could help adapt to unexpected weather issues. As a result, many parts of the country suffer from hunger.
Many solutions have been made in order to improve the issues, either from the government policy or the people’s effort.
Zero Hunger Program:
With the aim to lower malnutrition rates in the country, the government of Vietnam had introduced a variety of programs that each target different audiences. For instance, policies to provide adequate nutrition for pregnant women were asserted throughout the nation. Other policies included the funding for farmers to participate in a more sustainable food system. This program united people, helping erase the gap between different income classes across Vietnam while preventing poor people from lagging behind.
Education curriculum reform:
Knowing that education is one of the first steps for changes to come true, the government introduced mandatory courses in schools that teach students basic life skills. From cooking, electronic repairing to first aid programs, these classes helped prepare students to easily get adapted to society after graduating, increasing the chances of employment. The reforms broke the poverty cycle and gradually pushed hunger away from the country.
Social attention capture:
The Vietnamese government also knew well how the media could play a big role in erasing hunger. Therefore, whenever zero hunger campaigns were introduced, they were publicized greatly across all social media platforms, becoming headlines of many local newspapers. This successfully raised Vietnameses’ awareness on undernourishment issues and attracted donations from all kinds of sources.
Cultural unity in Vietnam - Nationalism:
Moreover, Vietnam is the homeland of many individuals devoted to patriotism. All Vietnameses understand the struggles their ancestors had experienced from the wars with foreigners, and that makes them treasure their country more than ever. With the feelings of love for their nation, Vietnameses take pride in helping other citizens and create a sense of cultural unity across Vietnam. This, as a result, contributes to the successful reduction in hunger rates and improvements in economic senses.
Examples of nationalism of the Vietnamese people could be seen through their fundraising events for the poor. In 2020 alone, with the floods and typhoons hitting Central Vietnam, over 1 million USD was donated to help support the flood survivors. This money came from a fundraising event of a celebrity couple, sufficient to supply clothes, food and shelter facilities for hundreds of thousands of citizens during the tough time. Other private funding foundations were also formed to help eliminate starvation in Vietnam over the past few decades.
Either with the support on the international scale or united instinct from the people, it is believed that Vietnam is one of the great example stories of success for world leaders to refer to. However, despite all the improvements, Vietnam still has lots more to do in order to reach the Zero Hunger Goal. The world is still quite far from the end goal ,but, together, we could make it happen.