Monday, November 16, 2015

WELLA-UNICEF Making Waves Programme Launches Vocational Hairdresser Training for Vulnerable Youth in Viet Nam

Holding a comb and the scissors in her hands, Thai Thuy Dung carefully trims a mannequin’s hair while following the instructions of her mentor.  Although this is only a practice session Thuy Dung is excited about the prospect of becoming a future hairdresser.

Raised in a poor family in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Viet Nam’s largest metropolis, Thuy Dung dropped out of middle school to help her grandparents sell vegetables on the streets which exposed her to many dangers.

Thai Thuy Dung follows the haircutting instructions of the mentor.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Nutrition in Vietnam’s urban centres

Field diary, part two

In my previous blog post, I described visiting remote Hmong communities in the mountains of Vietnam, where levels of undernutrition are extremely high – in some areas stunting is as high as 75 percent. For a complete contrast, the next stop on my visit was to Ho Chi Minh City. It is a huge sprawling city of at least 10 million people.

Stunting in Ho Chi Minh City is low, at 7 percent. However, exclusive breastfeeding is also very low, at only 1 percent. Many mothers – up to half – have C-sections, often by choice, and never start breastfeeding. Instead they feed their infants with formula, which does not have the same health and nutrition benefits as breast milk. Mothers who work in factories usually stop breastfeeding as soon as they return to work.

© UNICEF EAPRO/2015/Christiane Rudert
A mother practicing skin-to-skin care at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.

Nutrition in the mountains of Viet Nam

Field diary, part one

I recently travelled to the mountains in the far north of Viet Nam with UNICEF colleagues and the Ministry of Health to visit a UNICEF-supported nutrition programme aiming to improve child nutrition among the minority Hmong people. The Hmong, numbering around a million in Viet Nam, live in remote mountain villages and cultivate rice and some maize on steep terraced fields.

The levels of undernutrition among the Hmong – as measured by stunting (when a child is too short for their age) – are extremely high. In some areas stunting is as high as 75 percent. I don’t recall coming across such high rates anywhere else in the world. The average in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai is 40 percent, almost twice the national average in Viet Nam.

© UNICEF EAPRO/2015/Christiane Rudert
A H'mong infant is fed nutrient-rich porridge, prepared at the child feeding and care club in Lao Cai

Monday, November 9, 2015

Co-creation Workshop in Viet Nam Seeks to Solve Serious Global Problems with Wearable and Sensors

While Viet Nam is well known for its ICT community, a recent UNICEF workshop focused on understanding how to apply technology, not how to build it. Built on a series of “what if” questions, the UNICEF Innovation Lab in Viet Nam asked; What if we could get a room full of smart people with different backgrounds and expertise to focus on a grand challenge to accelerate the use of technology to make a positive impact on the lives of children? What if we could inspire these innovators with a new world of possibilities? The ask built on the Wearables for Good design challenge that was launched earlier this year by UNICEF, ARM and frog.

In designing the Viet Nam event, there were collaborative inputs from the local maker community, agile developers, design thinking & creative professionals and even the venue was a community based art education facility. And the results were astounding.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

40 years with the children of Viet Nam

Viet Nam and UNICEF have a long history of cooperation and trust. Following reunification in 1975, UNICEF launched a nation-wide programme to meet the basic needs of Viet Nam’s girls and boys. Since UNICEF’s first days in Viet Nam, the country programme has shifted from emergency response and reconstruction, to meeting basic needs in health and education, to today concentrating on improving social services, while supporting sound policy and an effective legal framework to ensure each one of the country’s 26 million girls and boys can meet his or her full potential. #UNICEF@40

Friday, September 18, 2015

Viet Nam's Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2014

Viet Nam's Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (‪#‎MICS2014‬) launched today in Ha Noi, highlights an unfinished agenda in the lives and well-being of vulnerable children and women while capturing some of the country's progress toward achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MICSsurvey was carried out by the General Statistics Office (GSO) in close collaboration with various line ministries and with technical and financial support from UNICEF. 

For more information:

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Exchanging Best Practices of Child Friendly Programmes Across Viet Nam

In spite of the mid-day summer heat, Dam Thi Lien wanders around the “Latrine Fair” exploring different types of latrine models. Here, she can see all the components of a real latrine – the underground layout, the pit, and the flooring which gives her much better idea of how a latrine is constructed as well as how much it would cost. Supported by UNICEF Viet Nam, the Latrine Fair is part of the sanitation marketing activities in An Giang province in Viet Nam’s Mekong River Delta region.

The Latrine Fair displaying various latrine models making it easy for people to choose the most suitable type for their families. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Protecting Viet Nam’s Invisible Children

Mai* is 12 years old and lives in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam’s largest and most prosperous city.  Her house consists of a 10m2 slab of concrete with aluminum sheeting for walls and roof. Mai lives there with her parents and four siblings, who up until recently had never gone to school, nor had regular health checkup, vaccinations or access to social assistance programmes that are normally available the poor in Viet Nam.

While 96 per cent of Vietnamese children are registered at birth, Mai and her siblings are part of the four percent who fall through the cracks. Unregistered children in Viet Nam are almost always from poor, ethnic minority or migrant families.  Mai’s parents cannot read or write and did not understand the benefits that birth registration would confer on their children.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Volunteering in Vietnam: Aisling Daly (from Ireland) – her story

I started in my position as a United Nations Youth Volunteer in Nutrition working with UNICEF Viet Nam in May 2015. I was really excited about the prospect of living and working in this amazing country whilst also working within the UN system for the first time. 

Breastfeeding at work (animation)

The theme of this year's World Breastfeeding Week is "Let’s make it work!” which focuses on supporting women to combine work and breastfeeding. Alive & Thrive and UNICEF created this animated video to show the benefits of creating a dedicated lactation space for moms in the workplace!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Escaping violence & moving forward

“Hung” in his home in Dong Thap Province, Viet Nam
© UNICEF Viet Nam \2015\Truong Viet Hung
Hung*, now 16, had a hard start in life. Hung’s mother left the family years ago, never to return, while his father struggled to make ends meet to feed his new wife and baby girl. Too poor and too busy trying to survive, Hung’s father could not provide a nurturing, safe environment for his son. Hung’s grandmother became his primary caregiver but she passed away when he was only 12.

That is when life became more difficult for Hung.  He struggled to do well at school and eventually dropped out in the 4th grade.  With no schooling and no one at home to watch over him, Hung spent more time with friends in internet gaming cafes.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Nepal earthquake: a sleepless night in the aftermath

Displaced families gather in an open field following the earthquake in Nepal. (C)UNICEF Nepal/2015/Rupa Joshi
Last night was a sleepless one for most people in Kathmandu. It was for me. Sleep does not come easily when the earth shakes violently every now and then. Sometimes it starts with a gentle rocking, followed by the strange noises that homes make when an earthquake rolls in.

Monday, April 13, 2015

UNICEF Interviews Dr Anne Lindboe, Norwegian Ombudsman for Children

Photo: UNICEF Viet Nam/2015/Truong Viet Hung

Dr Anne Lindboe is currently serving as the Norwegian Ombudsman for Children. A pediatric specialist in Norway, she was appointed by the Government of Norway as Ombudsman for Children for a six year term in 2012. Norway was the first country in the world to appoint in 1981 the first Ombudsman for Children - an office with statutory powers that seeks to incorporate the Convention on the Rights of the Child into all areas of society.  Dr. Lindboe visited Viet Nam last week to attend the 132nd International Parliamentarian Union Assembly during which she participated in two panel discussions organized by UNICEF and Alive & Thrive on the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Role of Parliamentarians in the Fulfilment of Children’s Rights to Nutrition and Development.