In spring 2010, Norad has conducted a study on the Vietnamese maritime sector. The report outlines the institutional framework for this sector, indicating its strength and weaknesses and showing areas where cooperation between Norway and Vietnam could be advantageous.
Cooperation could be both between institutions, with the objective of strengthening the Vietnamese enabling environment for the development of the industry, and business-to-business.
In the 1980s, more than half of Vietnam’s population was living below the poverty line. Now less than 15 per cent are so poor. Market reform, economic liberalisation and following up the WTO treaty have played a central role in ensuring continued economic growth and poverty reduction. The aim of Norway’s involvement in Vietnam is to support this positive social development politically, socially and economically. In 2008, Norway provided technical assistance in development cooperation with Vietnam. Norwegian expertise was transferred in the fields of natural resource management in the petroleum and fisheries sector, energy, governance, environment/climate and gender equality. Norway channelled much of its aid through the UN system
Governance and human rights
Norwegian assistance was allocated for measures to improve access to public services and improve Vietnamese people’s awareness of their rights. With Norwegian support, the authorities have established “One-Stop Shops” in connection with the reform of the public sector. The simplification of administrative procedures has been successful and a user survey carried out in 2008 showed that it now takes only five days to register an enterprise, whereas it used to take between 45 and 60 days. The registration of property now takes 20 days, compared with the former average of 54 days. Modern equipment and the training of public employees have significantly improved public services.
In cooperation with the International Labour Organisation, more than 2,000 people have been trained in areas such as collective bargaining and industrial relations in 11 pilot companies. The participation of women was an important element of training programmes in all projects and the participation rate for women was 44 per cent.
Vietnam is one of the pilot countries for improved coordination of international assistance (“One UN” at country level) and Norway channelled support for administrative and judicial reform through the UN. There were clear signs that the UN gives priority to policy dialogue with the Vietnamese authorities on the theme of governance. Among other things, the UN has taken the initiative for a dialogue on administrative reform that now, to a greater extent, involves the provincial authorities, in accordance with Vietnam’s decentralisation strategy.
Norwegian aid was spent particularly on improving the quality of education for disadvantaged children, including ethnic minorities. Teaching materials were produced in three minority languages and 90 teachers received training in bilingual education. So far, almost 400 five-year-olds have received mother-tongue tuition as part of a research project run by UNICEF.
With the World Bank and several other development partners, Norway helped ensure that education services for disadvantaged children achieved more than the original target for the number of children attending school. More than 97 per cent completed the course. Less than two per cent of children dropped out along the way. A review of the programme shows that more than one million of the disadvantaged children educated under this programme have received satisfactory teaching materials.
Natural resource management
Through the Norwegian projects under the Oil for Development programme, Vietnam had access to upgraded software to map oil and gas resources. Together with new administrative tools, this improved Vietnam’s ability to produce analyses and plan the extraction and use of natural resources. Norway continued its cooperation with the state oil company Petrovietnam on environment, health and safety in the petroleum sector. Capacity-building led to revised environment, health and safety regulations Norwegian experts were used as lecturers on transparency and economic management. The Norwegian partners are the Petroleum Directorate, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy and the State Pollution Control Authority (SFT – now the Climate and Pollution Agency).
As a result of Norway’s support for the fishery sector, it was possible to develop a more resistant fish species for aquaculture. Practical research resulted in improved disease control. 38 Vietnamese took master’s degrees in fishery in 2008 in connection with Norwegian-Vietnamese cooperation in the fishery sector.
Climate and the environment
Norway’s main aim was to support Vietnam’s efforts to prevent and deal with natural disasters. Institutional cooperation was initiated between the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute and the Vietnam National University (VNU). Courses on modern research methodology relating to geo-disasters were held in Oslo.
70,000 households affected by floods in 2008 were given rice for a month with the help of Norwegian aid channelled through the International Committee of the Red Cross. Norway also provided transitional aid for water and sanitation in the ten-month follow-up programme to establish a normal situation for the affected families.
The main areas for cooperation on economic development were hydro-electric power and shipping. With the help of Norwegian aid, a manual for licensing hydro-electric power plants was prepared, which included requirements for environmental impact analysis and assessment of social consequences. In the field of shipping, some parts of the planned training programme have taken place. The shipping sector was strongly affected by the financial crisis and the future participation of Norwegian companies is uncertain.
Women and gender equality
Norway signed a three-year agreement with Norwegian Church Aid in Vietnam to help combat domestic violence and human trafficking, where women are particularly vulnerable.
To combat sexualised violence, reconciliation and conversation groups were established, as well as emergency shelters. More than 300 members of the Women’s Union and Farmers’ Association were trained to raise awareness of gender equality and domestic violence. Rapid intervention groups were established in seven of the eighteen pilot municipalities involved in the project.
In efforts to combat human trafficking, approximately 2,400 potential migrants were informed about safe migration. Ten victims of human trafficking received assistance for social reintegration through this project, which is supported by Norway.
Norway contributed to exchange projects and institutional development to support a free, varied cultural life. Ibsen og den norsk vietnamesiske samtiden (Ibsen and Norwegian Vietnamese Contemporary Life) entered its second year in 2008. Several exchange projects took place in the course of the year.