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Comprehensive situation analysis of children in Dien Bien helps policy makers address children’s issues

HANOI, 12 May 2011 – Rapid economic and social progress has been made over the past two decades in the northern mountainous province of Dien Bien, including steady reduction in poverty, increased per capital income and improvements in education, health and survival outcomes for children. The overall social expenditure in the province increased more than threefold from 2005 to 2009, with expenditure on health care increasing almost fivefold. Yet there remains an unfinished agenda for its children, particularly in terms of high child poverty rate, large intra-provincial disparities and an alarmingly high rate of HIV infections.

Dien Bien is the second poorest province in the country, with a poverty rate of nearly 40% and large intra-provincial disparities exist between the province’s districts, different ethnicities and income groups. It is for example noteworthy that from 2008 onwards, almost 100 per cent of poor households in the province are of ethnic minorities. With regard to specific dimensions of child poverty, Dien Bien has one of Viet Nam’s highest rates of infant mortality (33‰ in comparison with 15‰ nationally) and stunting (35% - nationally 31.5%), and one of its lowest rates of lower secondary enrolment (70% - nationally 84%) and hygienic sanitation coverage (53% of rural and 75% of urban population – 55.8% and 89.5% respectively for national average). In 2008, the province had the second highest HIV infection rate in the country (almost 150 new HIV infections per 100,000 people, more than 7 times the national average).

These are some of the findings presented today in Ha Noi as part of the launch of a UNICEF-Dien Bien People’s Committee study entitled “An Analysis of the Situation of Children in Dien Bien Province 2010.” The event is organized by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), the People’s Committee of Dien Bien province and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Undertaken between 2009 and 2010, the Analysis provides a comprehensive picture of the situation of Dien Bien children, including an in-depth study of remaining challenges. It also examines possible causes of the situation and policy recommendations in the context of the North West region and Viet Nam as a whole.

“The Analysis, as part of the cooperation programme between UNICEF and the Government of Viet Nam, aims at providing high quality evidence on children issues for the development of the socio-economic development plans of Dien Bien province”, said Mr. Doan Mau Diep, MOLISA Vice Minister at the launch. “It is also an effective tool for monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of policies related to education, health care and child protection for children.”

Mr. Diep added, “This child-centered planning must feature the following factors: (i) stability and predictability of multi-dimensional impact on children; (ii) equity for all children, particularly those most vulnerable and of special circumstances; (iii) participation of the people and children in planning; (iv) resources allocated according to priorities with a focus on human development, especially child survival and protection; (v) generation of employment and services for families and child caretakers to respond to children’s needs and rights.”

First in a series of provincial situation analyses that UNICEF Viet Nam initiated under its Provincial Child Friendly Programme, the study was undertaken through an intensive process of research, close consultations with local stakeholders, UN agencies, non-government organizations and other institutions. It specifically aims to inform the province’s five year (2011-2015) and annual Socio-Economic Development Plans (SEDPs) as well as its sectoral plans, making them more child-sensitive and evidence-based.

“Dien Bien has been demonstrating impressive leadership for its children. As the Analysis shows, this commitment to child rights has paid off,” said Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Representative. “However, it must overcome the identified challenges to equitably realize the rights of its children who would grow into healthy and productive members of the society. It therefore gives me immense pleasure, to be informed of the commitment as expressed by Dien Bien People’s Committee to use this Analysis as the reference document for all planning activities by provincial line departments and agencies.”

Child poverty in the province, in particular, requires the authorities to look beyond the conventional approach, which focuses on the household’s income in relation to the monetary poverty line, instead it requires examining whether children are deprived of their basic needs across the domains of education, health, shelter, water and sanitation, child work, and social inclusion and protection.

“Dien Bien is committed to use these valuable findings in our planning across sectors and administrative units to address children’s priorities,” said Mr. Le Thanh Do, Vice Chairperson of Dien Bien People’s Committee. “We look forward to working with UNICEF in undertaking in-depth studies of children’s issues, particularly those related to ethnic minority children.”

“I do hope that all of us, as representatives of line ministries, donors, embassies, UN agencies, NGOs and others will be better informed of the situation of children in Dien Bien province,” said Lotta Sylwander. “And hereafter, with new insights and renewed energy will complement the province’s efforts and muster the resources at our disposal in favor of Dien Bien’s children.”—END

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UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:

For further information, please contact:

  • Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong; One UN Communications Office; Tel: 84 4 39425706 ext 401; Email:
  • Ms. Tran Phuong Anh ; One UN Communications Office; Tel: 84 4 39425706 ext 234; Email:



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