From 2003 to 2007, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) implemented a policy research-oriented regional technical assistance (RETA) entitled Making Markets Work Better for the Poor (M4P1), which covered Vietnam, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Cambodia. M4P1 was successful in raising awareness of the potentially positive role of market development in achieving poverty reduction as well as economic growth and was completed at the end of 2007. The knowledge generated was disseminated widely to the public and discussed with government agencies and other stakeholders. On December 2006, the Department for International Development (DFID) expressed an interest in co-financing Making Market Work Better for the Poor Phase 2 (M4P2).

About one third of the Vietnamese population lives below the poverty line, and 85% of the poor live in rural areas. The primary expenditure instrument used by the Government of Vietnam to improve rural incomes has been subsidized irrigation investments. Irrigation accounts for about half of all public expenditures in the agricultural sector, and three-quarters of all capital investments. The primary question posed by this study is: how effective are public irrigation expenditures in increasing rural incomes, particularly for the poor? 

The aim of the Northern Mountains Poverty Reduction Project (NMPRP) was to target six rural provinces in Vietnam’s Northern Mountain Region with two main objectives: to reduce poverty, and to strengthen participatory management at the commune level (in the provinces. The project invests in 44 districts in the six provinces, benefiting approximately one million people, of whom 85% are ethnic minorities. 

Despite a decrease in poverty in all regions of Vietnam over the previous ten years, the reduction was not evenly distributed between different groups and places - poverty remained a largely rural phenomenon, and was particularly pronounced among ethnic minority groups. The aim of the Northern Mountains Poverty Reduction Project (NMPRP) was to target six rural provinces in Vietnam’s Northern Mountain Region with two main objectives; to reduce poverty and strengthen participatory management at the commune level (in the provinces). The project will invest in 44 districts in the six provinces, benefiting approx. one million, of whom 85% will be ethnic minorities.

The Rural Enterprise Expansion Project (REEP) implemented by Oxfam Quebec aimed to improve rural livelihoods through support to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in rural areas. The outcomes of the project were; 1) an improved environment to foster the development of MSME, including women owned enterprises, in poor rural communities in Hai Duong, Quang Ninh and Thanh Hoa, and 2) the increased viability and number of MSME, including women-owned enterprises.