Despite impressive achievements, Vietnamese children still do not enjoy equal access to public services in education, health and nutrition, and water and sanitation. Disparities remain, especially among ethnic minorities and migrant children who make up a disproportionate share of the poor. These gaps are significant. Infant mortality rates among the richest 12 provinces in 2007 varied from 7.5 per cent to 17.3 per cent per 1,000 live births. In the poorest 12 provinces it was much higher, from 18.1 per centup to 50 per cent.
Most of the poorest provinces are at a massive disadvantage. Located in hard-to-reach and often mountainous areas, they have to contend with natural disasters. Infrastructure is often poorly developed and many people have limited access to productive resources and services.
With increasing decentralisation, Viet Nam’s 63 provinces and five centrally-governed cities now have the autonomy to prepare their own development plans, allocate budgets and monitor the implementation of these schemes. But the capacity of local staff to plan, allocate resources and execute programmes for the most vulnerable, including children, is limited.
The Provincial Child Friendly Programme (PCFP) is based on the premise that no single intervention can resolve the complex and multifaceted issues facing children in Viet Nam. With a mix of national level efforts to support local capacity building, coupled with work in six demonstration provinces, the programme is developing the capacity of provincial, regional and commune authorities to tackle children’s issues in a comprehensive manner.
Drawing on UNICEF’s education, child survival and development, child protection and social policy programmes, PCFP supports the provision of integrated services for children in Dong Thap, Kon Tum, Ninh Thuan, Dien Bien, An Giang provinces and in Ho Chi Minh City.
Specific results achieved between 2007 and 2009 include:
With UNICEF’s support in increasing local capacity in planning, budgeting and monitoring, provincial and local authorities in these areas have developed strategies for addressing children’s issues within their local economic and development plans and have secured financial resources from local government budgets to invest more in children. The end result is more investment in key areas or sectors that improves the lives of children .
The situation for girls and boys in these areas is gradually improving. The packaged approach to services at the district and commune level is improving enrolment in kindergarten and primary schools, increasing style='font-size:14.0pt !msorm;'> access to safe water and sanitation at school and to quality health services for women and children. With greater awareness within the community children are already better protected from violence, abuse and exploitation. By building capacity to mainstream children’s issues into local planning processes, UNICEF is helping these provinces to better reflect and address each region’s own unique challenges, and in so doing, to make development goals and priorities more relevant to the local context, and to the rights of children.
By the end of 2011, the aim is that the PCFP approach will be expanded to other areas in the six provinces. Eventually, UNICEF hopes that this integrated and cross-sectoral approach will be replicated and expanded to other provinces The programme has already been a success in developing close partnerships with the Government at the provincial, district and commune levels, as well as in providing valuable lessons learnt for other UN agencies on local governance issues through the One UN Initiative.
 GSO (2007) Population Change and Family Planning Survey