UN analysis on social impacts of COVID-19 and strategic policy recommendations for Viet Nam
Prepared by: FAO, ILO, IOM, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women and WHO
Since the first case of the COVID-19 was reported in Viet Nam on 23 January 2020, the Government of Viet Nam (GoV) accelerated efforts to contain the spread of the virus and provide treatment for those infected. To contain the outbreak, the government put in place regulations restricting the mobility of people, closing schools and non-essential service facilities as well as implementing over time, a regime of social and physical distancing. While Viet Nam gradually relaxed social distancing measures since 23 April 2020, new cases have been recently identified and anticipate a potential new wave. In this context, many people – especially vulnerable – continue to be impacted by the multiple and potential long-term impacts of the pandemic.
The National COVID-19 Response Plan – representing Government of Viet Nam’s multi-sectoral response to the crisis – was first issued on 20 January, updated on 31 January and is currently being updated. It includes a VND62 trillion (equivalent to estimated USD 2.6 billion) social protection package with cash support for those most vulnerable and workers who have lost jobs (VND 1 million (equivalent to approximately USD 43) per month per household or worker who lost an informal sector job) from April to June 2020 and impacted enterprises with low interest credit to pay workers’ salaries. This was complemented by the United Nations COVID-19 Response Support Plan (now titled UN COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for Viet Nam) compiled on 27 March, a living document now under revision, focused on five pillars: 1) ensuring essential health services are available and protecting health systems, 2) helping people cope with adversity through social protection and basic services, 3) protecting jobs, supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, and informal sector workers through economic response and recovery programmes, 4) guiding the surge in fiscal and financial stimulus to make macroeconomic policies work for the most vulnerable and strengthening multilateral and regional responses and 5) promoting social cohesion and investing in community-led resilience and response systems.
How the pandemic will evolve within Viet Nam and globally remains uncertain. Yet, experts predict the crisis will be protracted, with a long path to recovery. With a view to addressing the uncertain outlook and impacts on the most vulnerable people, the UN Secretary-General, in a statement on 16 April 2020, underlined the need to closely look at this intricacy of social and economic impacts of COVID-19.
In light of the global momentum and national context of Viet Nam, this paper was drafted by the COVID-19 Social Impact Working Group of the UN in Viet Nam, chaired by UNICEF and benefiting from inputs from FAO, ILO, IOM, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women and WHO. It draws on key evidence and preliminary data from various assessments undertaken by the UN agencies and reviewed through a series of consultations. It should be noted that while some of these assessments were nationally representative, others applied sampling from a focussed number of localities and population groups that best represented the situation at the time of data collection. It also benefited from consultation with the Asian Development Bank and World Bank. The paper seeks to provide strategic policy recommendations to inform dialogue with the GoV and other partners.