Updated by Governance team in September 17, 2012

From various household interviews and focus group discussions of rural and urban poor communities, within the metropolitan area of Hanoi city, noticeable differences were observed in their general perception of a variety of things, ranging from general well being to living conditions and public security. The viewpoints have proven themselves to be more contrasting than similar in nature, most of which were opposites of each other.

Firstly, the urban poor have shown to enjoy higher living standards and better monthly income rates than their rural counterparts. Their primary, also stable, sources were generally government subsidies, various pensions and compensations, which they received on the monthly basis. The rural poor also received some monetary and non-monetary support. However, it was shown to be more of “occasional” than “stable and regular”, it tended to come during holidays, events or national celebrations which mean several times a year. The levels were much lower than those of urban poor as well, implying on the presence of the difference of social security levels in different areas. The participants from rural areas have stated that the money received was not nearly enough to live off and they were required to engage in additional activities on the side to earn extra, for a living, such as selling agricultural products or manual work such as carpenter and construction worker.

The distinct variance in perception was regarding the overall happiness and wellbeing. Being asked about well being betterment expectation, despite the fact that the urban poor enjoyed a stable source of income, in contrast to a more fluctuating one of the rural, they were shown to hardly see the light at the tunnel, particularly among the older members. Though the rural poor claimed that the urbanisation process has limited their possibilities, for example, severely changing the environment and making agricultural work difficult if not near impossible (see previous story), they still shown positive attitude toward their future.

The rural poor have shown themselves to be generally more happy and optimistic, in contrast to their urban counterparts. They tended to still have a strong grasp of their dreams and hopes in a more positive and better future, as well as better time at accepting their current situation, while the urban poor if did, then only to a certain extent. The rural poor claimed they had more power over their current situation and the environment and conditions they lived in gave them a sense of progression. Many respondents from urban areas, on the other hand, did not see their situation changing much towards better in the future and some have even given up on their dreams and beliefs. Some went on claiming they lost the ability to influence their current situations and are mostly, if not completely, dependent on government support.

The general trends of thought also differed relating to the public and basic security. The rural poor have expressed their general satisfaction with the levels of safety of their property and themselves. They claimed that there were rarely any occurrences of theft or other crimes and everything was relatively peaceful. Contrasting to this, their urban counterparts believed that there was a general need to be cautious and careful. There was a fear of lost or damaged property, as well as doubts about public safety and peace.

In regards to the environment, its sanitation and cleanliness, the viewpoints of the rural and urban poor communities had some similarities. They stated that in general their living and working environments were continuously becoming worse and more polluted. The safe and efficient way to of disposing domestic waste is yet to be implemented in most locations, as the current methods have been described to not bring desired results or improperly maintained. In addition, recycling is currently non-existent. This leads to many urban rivers and coastal lagoons to be polluted and water supplies contaminated. The urban poor have stated that they have to deal with worse conditions than the rural ones, as the environment has not retained the degrees of freshness and cleanliness of the rural areas, as well as there is a higher population density. The free space around is also continuously getting smaller and tighter as buildings and other facilities are being constructed, leading to a scarcity of land for housing, recreation, industrial development or open space. This adds more problems to the environmental sanitation as it creates a shortage of landfill sites.

As the urbanisation process goes on, many currently rural areas are seemingly bound to become urban. This creates a variety of questions, such as whether the rural poor communities going to be in the same situation that the urban poor are in or whether urbanisation would provide rural poor with better life and how national policy makers take this into account?

More stories to come at vietsurvey.vn

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