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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The role and potential of Vietnamese Ngos in the context of Doi Moi Mulla, Zarina


Among the significant global events that have characterized the last decade has been the political and economic restructuring in socialist countries. A vital dimension of this policy has been the introduction of the market system and a rethinking of socialist principles of equality. As the formerly-provided state subsidies for social services are being cut back, the population has to struggle to adjust itself to the market system. This has contributed among other things, to social polarization. The case of Vietnam provides a typical example of a socialist economy in transition. Economic renovation or Doi Moi has produced economic benefits for the country but also social dilemmas for the population. As a result of market forces, health and education systems have deteriorated, unemployment has increased, food distribution within the country has been disrupted and gender inequality and income disparity are on the rise. In the midst of this transition, some non governmental organizations (NGOs) have emerged to respond to inadequate governmental planning in resolving the social consequences of economic restructuring. This thesis is an informative and analytical study of the current and potential role of Vietnamese NGOs in addressing socio-economic conditions in the context of economic renovation in Vietnam. Interviews with thirteen NGOs, identified through "snowball" sampling methods in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City during a period of twelve weeks (Nov.93-Feb 94) indicate the following: Vietnamese NGOs are mostly involved in providing relief and welfare services; they are not engaged in any advocacy (an indispensable method for many NGOs in the world); and have virtually no connection with the international NGO network. Although their total impact on socio-economic development is not yet substantial given the extent of social changes under Doi Moi, their existence at all is significant for Vietnam today. It is important that their efforts be recognized, nationally and by international counterparts. Korten's typology of the four generations of NGOs provides a useful framework in identifying the current role of Vietnamese NGOs and in speculating on their potential to evolve along the developmental continuum as proposed in the typology. In conclusion, NGOs all over the world have been the true forces of social progress and sustainable development. This thesis argues that as has been the case historically with NGOs in other developing countries, Vietnamese NGOs, given the proper support, have the potential to evolve as organs of community development and social justice.

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