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Vietnam

Vietnam

Summary

Although Vietnam is experiencing rapid economic growth, it still struggles with corruption, poverty, and climate change. Its single party communist government is known for corruption and secrecy, and many citizens do not trust their government to provide basic services. Restriction of basic rights like freedom of religion and speech is common.1 Corruption is also present in the booming industrial sector, although most of the country’s population is employed in agriculture. Conditions such as drought and polluted water sources have decreased agricultural production in recent years.2 Many agricultural workers, as well as ethnic minorities, live in poverty because they lack access to education, health care, and other government services.3 1 https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_in_asia_pacific_what_20000_people_told_us 2 http://www.heritage.org/index/country/vietnam 3 https://borgenproject.org/state-of-poverty-in-vietnam/

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

The industrialization of Vietnam’s society has led to more industrial wastes being improperly disposed of. Rivers and the air are being heavily polluted. Cement factories are causing air pollution that is three times that of government air standards. Rapid population growth causes ecological degradation when trees are torn down to make way for larger cities.1 Climate change combined with increased greenhouse gas emissions put more pressure on the environment.2 In 2016, thousands of dead fish washed up on the shores of Vietnam because of water pollution, sparking public protest from people of all sectors. Many people, from farmers to businessmen, have felt the negative effects of poor environmental quality on the economy.3

Family

The typical Vietnamese family is patriarchal in nature. Historically, the family structure is based off Confucian ideals, which operate within the framework of familial obligations and responsibilities falling to the father or older brother. The well-being of the family unit is more important than any one member’s success.1 Approximately 58% of all married women have experienced some form of domestic violence. Despite legal protections, only 13% of victims choose to ask for help either because they are not educated about it or cannot trust the justice system.2

Human Rights

The government actively suppresses the freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. The right to protest and speak out against the government is subject to intense persecution. Activists are tortured, illegally detained and harassed regularly by police, and it is not uncommon for military officials to unjustly seize land and property. The police are often cited for using excessive force and brutality to break up confrontations and protests. The government also exercises the right to block politically critical websites and activists—in 2016, 19 political activists were sentenced and jailed.1

Education

In Vietnam, there are five stages to the education system: pre-primary, primary, intermediate, secondary, and higher education.1 Children are only required to attend school for five years through primary school, and around 97% of Vietnamese students are literate. In 2015, Vietnamese high school test results ranked among the top 15 in the world. Teachers are highly respected and create a rigorous classroom environment. However, 37% of Vietnamese 15 year olds still are not enrolled in school.2

Poverty

From 1993-2014, the percentage of people living below the poverty line dropped from 60% to 13.5%, which is equivalent to 40 million people escaping poverty. This is a result of their fast-growing economy, which, at an increase of 6% per year, is one of the highest in the world.1 One of the reasons why Vietnam has been so successful in poverty reduction is the improvement of education and the increase in the number of young adults moving to the cities to work in factories and in construction. Despite these positive advancements, macro instability and wealth inequality have persisted and created new challenges. A significant portion of the rural and ethnic minority population still live in poverty due to a lack of access to health care, Read More education, and quality jobs.2 Show Less

Religion

The main religion in Vietnam is Buddhism, and it has a large impact on the way the Vietnamese view life, death, and the afterlife.1 In order for other religious groups to assemble and worship, they are required to register with the government. Religious minorities and their leaders are frequently intimidated by security forces and are under heavy surveillance. The government reserves the right to imprison and convict people whose religions are not registered for “undermining national unity”.4

Clean Water

Due to increased government funding, 98% of Vietnamese have access to clean drinking water and 78% have sanitation facilities that meet international standards. People in rural areas still have more limited access to piped water and latrine structures. The government continues to make an effort to implement accountability and safety checks in water purification facilities.1 Despite these efforts, polluted water still causes 80% of diseases. The main cause of water pollution is untreated industrial waste, which flows from hydropower plants located along the main rivers.2

Economy

Since the early 2000s, Vietnam has achieved economic growth through deliberate government reforms. These reforms helped the private sector experience unprecedented growth. The Vietnamese economy still has work to do regarding economic freedoms, such as increasing transparency in the business sector.1 In recent years, drought and poor environmental conditions have harmed agriculture and slowed the economy’s growth of over 6% in the yearly GDP. The economy continues to be driven mainly by exports and tourism.2

Government

Vietnam is a one-party Communist nation. The nation takes active stances against political dissent and religious freedom. All political power is held in the Communist Party of Vietnam. There are three very powerful political positions within the Communist government: the general secretary, the prime minister, and the president. The prime minister is the head of the government and the president is the head of state.1 While the country is moving towards reform, the government actively restricts some human rights and is known for corruption. Over 50% of people indicated that they believed corruption levels had risen in the past several years, and 30% of adults said that they had to pay a bribe in order to receive government services. 2

Health

The average life expectancy in Vietnam is 76 years, and the infant mortality rate is 13 per 1,000 live births. Only 7% of government spending is allocated to health care. Inadequate funding for hospitals has created a shortage of nurses and hospital beds.1 The top causes of death are stroke, heart disease, and pulmonary disease.2 The government plans to expand universal health care in the next several years, but low enrollment rates are prevalent. Most households still must pay out of pocket for up to 60% of their medical expenses.3

Children

The majority of children attend elementary school, but many do not continue on to high school. Many children in rural areas live in poverty. In an attempt to change their economic situation, some children end up working as prostitutes. Approximately 40,000 children are forced into prostitution and thousands of others are kidnapped and trafficked to other countries to become sex slaves. Street children are an easy target for kidnappers—up to 65,000 live on the streets in cities around Vietnam. Those who are able to avoid trafficking may still end up working in jobs with unsafe conditions. The mortality rate for children under age five is 17%.1

Animals

A wide variety of animals live in Vietnam. In the rainforest area there are wild cats, primates, birds, and reptiles. In the plains and highlands, there are elephants, deer, rhinoceroses, and bears. 600 species of birds are unique to Vietnam. Water buffalo are often domesticated and used in farming.1

Vietnam

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