The Socialist Republic of Vietnam borders China in the north, the Gulf of Tonkin and the South China Sea in the east and south, and Laos and Cambodia in the west. Vietnam has over 97 million inhabitants. The biggest city is Ho Chi Minh City with 8.2 million inhabitants and Hanoi, the capital city, is home to around 5 million. About 85% of the population is ethnically Kinh, and the remaining 15% is comprised of 53 other recognized ethnic groups. Vietnam is recovering from decades of war. The constant struggles have influenced the families of Vietnam in various ways; many lives were lost; the environment damaged, and the agricultural-based economy seriously affected.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Vietnam since 1967.
In spite of improving conditions in recent decades that have propelled Vietnam to a middle-income country, poverty in Vietnam remains – an estimated 6.7% of the population is living below the nationally established poverty line.
There is an increasing disparity in the distribution of wealth between urban and rural areas of the country and between different ethnic groups. Ethnic minority groups, especially those living in rural mountainous areas are up to 4 times more likely to live in poverty than the members of the majority living in urban centres.
In recent years, the Vietnamese economy is one of the fastest growing in the region. There have been some changes, but state owned enterprises continue to account for about 40% of GDP. Agriculture is still the most important sector, employing nearly half of the population.
At present, about 37% of the population lives in urban areas, but this rate is increasing rapidly as most jobs are located in cities. Rural-urban migration can be detrimental to rural development and tends to increase the socio-economic disparities experienced by vulnerable households.
Children from ethnic minorities and those living in rural areas, or in the northern mountainous regions, are more likely to live in poverty and less likely to attend school.
Children who are at risk of losing parental care include those whose parents have migrated in search of work. Their children are often left with grandparents or family members.
There are around 170,000 children without parental care in Vietnam.