With an estimated 9 million inhabitants, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam, and it is one of the most densely populated. The city plays an important role in the Vietnamese economy.
Although the city is one of the richest in the country, there is a growing wealth disparity. Life here is very harsh for the many families who continue to live below the poverty line. People who are most likely face economic hardship include those with low levels of education or few skills, those who are ill or have a disability, families with many children, and those who have recently moved to the city.
Since 1999, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Ho Chi Minh.
Rapid urbanization of Ho Chi Minh City is partly due to people migrating there from rural areas. The city has seen approximately 2.7% annual growth in recent years. Families who have moved to the city are often socially isolated, which makes it harder for them to find work or seek support in times of need.
Families living in poverty often live in precarious locations, such as on the streets, in slums, or on boats. As they build their shelters in unrecognized sites, they constantly face the threat of relocation. In the majority of cases, they have no electricity and no source of clean drinking water. People living in these conditions often have no official residence rights, and are therefore excluded from governmental services.
Unfortunately, not all children have benefited from improving living standards in recent decades. 1.9 million children under 5 suffer from stunting due to malnutrition and lack of adequate healthcare.
Stunting affects brain function and the immune system, which means that many children perform poorly in school. Decreased productivity in adult life diminishes the chances of escaping the poverty cycle.
Children from ethnic minorities often live in remote areas in mountainous regions, and have less opportunity to go to school and find employment as a result.