UN reports vast inequalities in urban

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Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are facing challenges in ensuring equitable and sustainable development, according to a survey released on Wednesday by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

"I would like to highlight one of the key characteristics of the urban poverty survey which we believes is particularly important, and that is the multidimensional approach it uses to assess poverty," said Setsuko Yamazaki, UNDP country director in Vietnam, at the launch of the findings.

"This approach recognizes that poverty is not simply an issue of lack of income. Rather, it is a multidimensional problem for those who are deprived across a range of different domains such as health, education and access to clean water and sanitation."

The report states that 38 percent of people in Hanoi and 54 percent of those living in Ho Chi Minh City have no access to the social security system. Similarly, more than a third of people in both cities lack access to proper housing services such as tap water, waste disposal and sewage drains.

In education, 27 percent of people aged 18 and older in HCMC have not completed lower- secondary education, or (if they are school aged) are not enrolled in school.

The report found that a high proportion of urban migrants make up the populations of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The number is only increasing.

About 72 percent of migrants in the two urban hubs are between 15-39 years-old. Fifteen percent of them have had to move to new accommodations at least twice, over the past year, due to changes in their job or the emergence of cheaper housing opportunities.

The average monthly income of Hanoians was determined to be VND2.32 million (US$119), while Saigon residents were said to make an average of VND2.44 million ($125). Those with permanent residency status earned around 16 percent more than others, the report found.

"Some of the priority areas highlighted in the report include strengthening the social security system, improving housing services (and housing quality) and making sure migrants are more included in social organizations and community activities," Yamazaki said. "Above all, it means ensuring equality among the people living in the two cities."

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