Land for ethnic minorities remains a big problem in Vietnam as this is the group that often faces shortage of land for cultivation and economic development, hindering social stability and livelihood improvement in mountainous areas, local experts said. Vietnam needs to have proper policies on handling and managing land in upland regions to ensure the fundamental rights and better living standards of minority people, experts said at a conference held in Hanoi on Nov 1 by the Social Policy Ecology Research Institute (SPERI) and the Consultancy on Development Institute (CODE).
Mountainous regions account for 54.38% of the country’s total area, home to 27% of the total population or 25 million people, including 13 million ethnic minority people. But life in such areas remains hard due to the rough terrains and socio-economic difficulties, experts said. As many as two million ethnic inhabitants across the country do not have enough residential land and farmland, according to the statistics from lawmakers at a meeting of the National Assembly (NA)’s Steering Committee on Sept 13. To tackle the problems, it needs to tighten control over the allocation of land to state-owned forestry enterprises, which are holding up to four million hectares of land. In addition, the state should issue preferential policies to assist local ethnic minorities in improving their lifestyle while not being dependent on land as land allocation and ownership would be a “long-term and unsolvable problem” in the communist country. In fact, with up to 70% of the country’s total petitions being related to land disputes between authorities and residents, land-related issues usually top the agendas of the NA’s meetings. Such high percentage is understandable as land disputes remain rampant in Vietnam due to conflict of interest between land users and authorities-backed investors, who often earn a good deal from luxury realty projects but pay farmers very low compensations. (Thoi Bao Kinh Te Viet Nam – Vietnam Economic Times Nov 2 p2)