(c) Brayden Howie/HelpAge International
Why we work in Vietnam?
Vietnam is one of the most rapidly ageing countries in the world, much faster than the country can adapt. These conditions make it difficult for many older people to lead dignified, healthy and secure lives. Many live in poverty, with little access to social pensions and in poor health.
Meanwhile, Vietnam is very prone to natural disasters, with storms, floods and typhoons threatening lives and livelihoods every year, and older people are among the most vulnerable. The severity and regularity are only likely to get worse, as the country ranks among most likely to be affected by climate change.
Health and care
Even though Vietnam's medical system has improved in recent decades, it's not yet effective and affordable enough to adequately meet older people's needs. To tackle this, HelpAge International promotes healthy, active living and builds strong, community-based care systems to improve older people's physical and mental wellbeing.
We do this through intergenerational self-help clubs where older people can access health checkups, get help to generate an income, find out information on their rights and build social networks. The clubs organises training on self-care and first aid for both club members and the wider community, and provides outreach homecare support services twice a week to those who need it, such as the bed-bound and disabled.
Extreme weather, rapid industrialisation, and a lack of available credit and vocational training has left many many older people without a secure income. In Vietnam, a person over 60 is commonly considered "too old" to apply for a bank loan, even though this is against the law. Through the intergenerational self-help clubs, older people can access credit to start small businesses and get training on how to develop resillient, age-friendly livelihoods.
Most importantly, the loan interest is completely returned to the club itself, which helps the it to function independently and sustainably, and bring benefits to club members and the community.
Rights and entitlements
We work closely with decision makers and law enforcement bodies to help ensure effective national policies and programmes on older people and ageing are properly implemented, including Vietnam's commitments in the Sustainable Delvelopment Goals.
We help establish community-based rights and entitlements monitoring systems through the intergenerational self-help clubs, and make sure older people's voices are heard and needs are represented in our campaigns.
An entrepreneur in his 70s
(c) Brayden Howie/HelpAge International
Truong is 73. He lives with his wife in a small house in the Thanh Hoa province in northern Vietnam. All of his children have migrated to urban centres to work, but because of the high cost of living in cities, they are unable provide much support to their parents.
In the past, Truong raised chickens and sold them to make a living. He did not earn much, but things started to change when he joined his local intergenerational self-help club. Through the club, he received communication training and livelihoods support to boost his business knowledge and skills.
The club gave him a small loan of four million Vietnamese dong (US$175) to purchase two pigs and some pig feed. He used the pigs’ waste to make natural compost to grow rice, corn and sweet potatoes and, after one year, he had sold enough piglets to not only repay the loan, but also make a profit. He used the money to cover family expenses and invest in a duck-raising business.
"Since joining the club, we are happier, healthier and more confident. I'd never imagined that my family could escape poverty during my old age," he said.
"My wife and I receive help through the club, but also help other people in the community who are going through difficult times. We feel fulfilled and bonds are strengthened in the village."
Our network members
- The Center for Ageing Support and Community Development
- Vietnam Association of the Elderly
- Age International
- ASEAN-ROK Cooperation Fund/HelpAge Korea
- Atlantic Philanthropies
- Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit
- European Union
- Korea International Cooperation Agency
- Medisch Comité Nederland Vietnam
- Oxfam Hong Kong
- United Nations Population Fund
- US Agency for International Development/Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance
- Nghi Son Refinery