UNICEF Conference: A New Approach to Child Poverty in Vietnam, Nov. 26-27, 2009

It is now widely recognised at the global level that child poverty is qualitatively different from adult poverty or household poverty as conventionally measured by most countries.  “Children living in poverty are deprived of nutrition, water and sanitation facilities, access to basic health-care services, shelter, education, participation and protection, and while a severe lack of goods and services hurts every human being, it is most threatening and harmful to children, leaving them unable to enjoy their rights, to reach their full potential and to participate as full members of the society”.1

Child poverty is more than just a lack of money/income. Income poverty is only one form of deprivation that children may experience. The monetary approach of measuring poverty (using a poverty line) gives little consideration to household structure, gender, age and children’s needs which are different from those of adults. It essentially does not recognise the unique nature and impact of poverty on children.

Children who grow up in poverty are more likely to be poor in adulthood as well. Investing in reducing or eliminating child poverty now is therefore the smartest investment in reducing overall poverty, and contributing to socio-economic growth.

In Viet Nam, two decades of rapid economic growth and progressive state policies have contributed to significant declines in poverty. But child poverty in Viet Nam today is almost certainly more prevalent and severe than is commonly believed. This is because existing methods and techniques used to measure child poverty in Viet Nam, focusing on children living in households defined as poor according to the national monetary poverty line, are in practice inadequate and have important limitations. Furthermore, in the context of the current global economic crisis, the Government of Viet Nam is putting in place new measures designed to reduce poverty and protect the most vulnerable groups from the worst impacts of the crisis. However, these measures are relying on traditional monetary methods of calculating poverty, meaning that they are not capturing the specificities of child poverty. New policies and programmes to mitigate the impact of the economic crisis on the poor may therefore overlook children who live in poverty – the group which is arguably most affected by it.

Thus, in Vietnam, there is an urgent need to think about child poverty in a new and innovative way, including using child-specific measures of child poverty, and new ways of integrating child poverty concerns into the design and implementation of public policies.

This conference is an effort to help address this need, by bringing together the latest knowledge and expertise from different stakeholders to examine Viet Nam’s public policies in the area of poverty reduction, and identify ways to re-position child poverty at the core of this policy framework.


The conference seeks to reach high-level consensus and support to integrate a multidimensional child poverty approach into the national policy response, with a particular focus on socio-economic development plans, national poverty reduction policies and strategies in Viet Nam.

It will bring together new evidence and analysis from Viet Nam and other countries and encourage focused discussion around key policy issues and options on how policies can most effectively eliminate child poverty and reduce disparities in an integrated and comprehensive manner, especially in the public policy process of planning, targeting, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation and analysis.

The conference expects to contribute to:

A common understanding among policy makers of the new multidimensional approach to and measurements of child poverty;
Better knowledge of opportunities and constraints/gaps for reducing child poverty and disparities within Viet Nam’s existing policy initiatives relevant to poverty reduction; Concrete ideas and recommendations to strengthen Viet Nam’s efforts on reduction of child poverty.

Concept Note This concept note presents the detailed outline of a high-level conference on child poverty policies for Viet Nam, organised by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, and UNICEF Viet Nam. The 1.5-day conference will gather researchers, policy-makers, development partners and practitioners from in- and outside Viet Nam to translate recent conceptual and research work on child poverty into concrete policy options that contribute to improved child well-being in Viet Nam. The conference program will first address the current state of the art on conceptualising and measuring child poverty, globally and in Viet Nam. It will then examine the gaps in existing policies with a focus on socio-economic and poverty reduction policies in Viet Nam. The conference will also discuss relevant international experiences and good examples, which can assist Viet Nam in addressing remaining challenges in order to achieve the necessary policy changes to reduce child poverty.


Download the concept note and agenda

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