Posts tagged under Hanoi
In 2012, we traveled to four cities and conducted a survey on the challenges for the urban poor. The result are four bulletins containing primary data and case studies from the field.
Throughout 2012 the Asian Trends Monitoring researcher team has traveled to four ASEAN cities with the goal to find out more about urban poverty and the major challenges the urban poor are facing today. We conducted a survey with a total sample size of 1,400 respondents (approx. 350 in each city). During our field visits we recruited local university students and NGO workers to run the survey in slums and poor neighbourhoods in Jakarta, Manila, Hanoi, and Vientiane. To read about our experiences click on the name of the respective city.
The survey had a “perception of difficulties” section comprising ten categories, each to be rated on a 5-point scale (from “easy” to “impossible/unable to do”). Below you will see a comparison of the five categories most frequently rated as “very difficult” to access by respondents in our survey.
Across all four cities the challenges of finding work opportunities and access to financial services (saving money) featured among the services most difficult to reach. Overcrowding and lack of space for the family were unique to Jakarta’s Poor with more than 200 respondents reporting it as an issue while lack of access to health services featured particularly prominently in Hanoi.
Vietnam is the country with the highest urbanisation rate in Southeast Asia. Just a decade ago, only 24% of its population lived in cities, with 65% of the labour force employed in rural agriculture. Today, already more than 30 million people live in urban areas, accounting for approximately 34% of Vietnam’s total population. The country is witnessing a speedy proliferation of urban areas, with the number of towns or cities at 755 and rising.
Planners estimate that Vietnam’s cities will be home to more than 46 million people by the year 2020. The largest of these cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, are the growth engines of the country, supported by relatively low urban unemployment at 4.6%. In contrast, rural unemployment is reported to be over 20%.With its newly attained status as a middle income country and its ambitions to achieve higher levels of human development, Vietnam needs to address challenges in basic social service provision for both rural and urban populations. In particular, Vietnam will have to cope with rural-urban migration, a global megatrend that will continue to trouble city planners for the foreseeable future. Many poor rural Vietnamese will try their luck in the thriving urban centres, perceiving them to be full of job opportunities for both skilled and unskilled workers.
The Vietnamese capital is undergoing several drastic changes. The city’s look and feel are changing, and the city’s inhabitants have evolved their preferences and demands. This presents new risks and challenges that policy makers must juggle. Thus, the kind of choices that city planners take will heavily influence Hanoi’s aspiration as a modern and inclusive metropolis.
The ATM survey indicates that health services, good schools, work opportunities, and financial services are the most critical unmet needs of the poor. Finding solutions is especially urgent due to the population pressures caused by growing share of rural-urban migrants trying their luck in the “big city”. Current strategies will fail: slum clearing and restrictive eligibility criteria for government benefits are short-term strategies to drive people away from Hanoi, but these disincentives are no match for what the city has to offer.
In order to equip planners with a framework to base their policy design, we have developed four alternative futures for Hanoi. They are centered along two critical junctures:
- 1) the pace of rural-urban migration and its consequences for urban infrastructures
- 2) the service delivery method for the urban poor.
The Asian Trends Monitoring team continues its reporting on the state of urban poverty in Southeast Asia. After the first two issues on Jakarta and Manila, the team now releases a bulletin on a city that is markedly different from the first two: Hanoi, Vietnam.
Unlike the more developed economies of Indonesia and the Philippines, Vietnam is very much an economy in transition. With its recent rise into the cluster of middle income countries (countries with a GDP per capita of US$1,000 or more), Vietnam has an opportunity to adjust its growth strategy to become more inclusive and lift millions of its people out of poverty. One of the best places to start would be its capital city. Hanoi, unlike Jakarta and Manila, is not quite a megacity, but it is definitely heading in that direction. Thus, Hanoi must rethink its strategies and models for service provision in order to remain inclusive and accessible throughout this period of growth.
This issue of the Asian Trends Monitoring Bulletin analyses the living conditions that Hanoi’s poor residents must contend with, and the services that are in place to assist them. More specifically, we look into the potential roles of empowerment strategies such as microfinance and social businesses as viable ways to close service gaps in cities like Hanoi.
The latest infographic from the ATM team tells a story about Hanoi, capital of Vietnam, and how it fares in its struggle to provide basic services for its people. The numbers and information in the infographic are a combination of secondary data from the World Bank, primary data from the ATM poverty profile survey, as well as information from interviews the team conducted in the field.
This infographic highlights the emerging issues that Hanoi’s poor must contend with. Although Vietnam’s GDP is growing and income levels among the poor are rising, it does not necessarily translate into improved access to services. There are several limitations to the government’s service provision capacity, which leads to things like a strict “poor list” of eligible households.
If you want to read more about poverty alleviation efforts in Hanoi, go to “Asian Trends Monitoring Bulletin 18: Empowering Hanoi’s Poor”, available online and as a PDF. In it, we discuss the different strategies for poverty alleviation that would be more effective in improving the lives of the poor without putting additional strain on the government budgets. We also conduct foresight analysis on the alternative futures of Hanoi, in order to help the people and planners in Hanoi decide what path they would like to take.
This week UN Habitat held the World Habitat Day “Changing cities, Building opportunities” to reflect on the state of our towns and cities. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon emphasized that global success stories can guide the future for cities facing tremendous challenges today – rapidly growing cities like Hanoi.
“From necessity springs opportunity. Better planned and better functioning cities can help guide us to the future we want: cities where everyone has adequate shelter, water, sanitation, health and other basic services; cities with good education and job prospects; cities with energy-efficient buildings and public transport systems; cities where all feel they belong.”
Ban Ki Moon, Secretary-General, United Nations on October 1, 2012
The Habitat Day slogan “Changing cities, Building opportunities” aptly describes a process that Hanoi needs to go through, if it wants to avoid becoming the next disfunctional megacity. The survey our team conducted (also see last week’s blog post) among Hanoi’s urban poor shows that close to half the respondents struggle to find work opportunities in the city. The informal economy offers many different economic activities to engage in, however only a small proportion of micro-entrepreneurs manage to make their business profitable enough to escape poverty.
Urban poverty is an emerging trend in Asia. Millions of rural-urban migrants leave their traditional livelihoods to seek a new fortune in the city. Vietnam is a good example of this global trend recording some of the highest urbanisation rates in Southeast Asia. It has already 755 urban towns and cities which are home to approximately 30 million people. Estimates predict that by 2020, Vietnam’s cities will be populated by more than 46 million people.
The Asian Trends Monitoring team conducted a survey among Hanoi’s poor between May 18 and May 24. We collected a total of 351 responses from four different neighbourhoods with the help of 12 field interviewers from the Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender in Hanoi.
The survey had a “perception of difficulties” section comprising ten categories, each to be rated on a 5-point scale (from “easy” to “impossible/unable to do”). In four out of ten categories more than 40% of respondents answered with very difficult or unable to do. ‘Accessing modern health treatments’ came up on top with more than 50% of respondents rating it as very difficult or unable to access health treatments.
- One room, 3m x 4m in size.
- One bed, approximately king size, but with a rattan mat instead of a proper mattress.
- One cooking corner with a small stove, adjacent to a tiny, dirty bathroom.
- Only a tin roof and a dilapidated wooden ceiling protect the inhabitants from the elements.
- In the dry season, piped water only runs about four hours per day.
- In the rainy season, electricity is intermittent, with daily blackouts that are several hours long.
This place we visited was a student accommodation shared by five university students, who will continue to live here for the entire duration of their study. Two of them were studying to become teachers, while the other three were pursuing engineering degrees in mining. All of them came to the city from villages around Hanoi in hopes that a university degree will open more doors to a better life.
According to them, most rental housing for students in Hanoi are of similar condition: small and dirty, with intermittent water and electricity. The reason why they choose to live in such conditions is the price: room rent is VND 1.2 million (US$ 60) per month, which means that sharing with several roommates is the only viable option.