Rapid economic development in Vietnam has resulted in the reduction of poverty rate by 75 precent . However, this reduction is unequal among populations, with 50 precent of the ethnic minorities still living below the poverty line . In addition there is a widening gap in rural-urban income, as a majority of the poor population reside in rural areas.
Vietnam has made a significant progress in education. The net enrolment rate in primary school in 2009 was 95.5 precent . The difference between boys and girls in primary school net enrolment rates was as little as one precent . However, the challenge of increasing gaps in access to education between various populations still exists. For example, school completion rates among ethnic minorities and girls remain relatively low and there remain shortages in skilled workers throughout the country.
With Vietnam’s rapid growth has come improved health for its people. The under-five and infant mortality has been halved. Maternal mortality has declined considerably, from 233 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 69 per 100,000 live births in 2009 . However, these rates still remain high in the rural and ethnic communities.
Vietnam has made significant achievements in ensuring environmental sustainability. However, a number of challenges still exist. More than one million people in Vietnam are affected each year by natural disasters . Differences exist in access to clean water between rural and urban areas. Along with this, air and water pollution, caused by rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, represent major problems.