UN-Habitat this month led a joint United Nations consultative group in Vietnam to understand better the aspirations, problems and opportunities of the urban poor in the cities of Hanoi and Danang.
The UN group worked with officials in people's committees and women's unions in Hoa Hiep Bac Ward (Lien Chieu District, Danang), Thanh Khe Tay (Thanh Khe District, Danang), and Phuc Tan ward (Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi) to find out more about the poverty status of each ward and their pro-poor activities.
The team heard many stories.
"I want to fix this house. The roof is almost broken so we have to use canvas to cover it. But when there are strong winds, we're scared that the roof will just come off. In addition, it leaks when it rains," said Ms. Vu Thi Thanh Hoa, 34, in Group36, Phuc Tan Ward. The six people in her family are bundled together in a room of less than 10 square metres.
The front of their home is covered by wooden boards and piles of bricks. There is no toilet and people have showers in a rough outhouse next to their home.
This was just one insight into the lives of local people UN-Habitat met during the consultations in recent days.
Interviews with urban poor people who work as street vendors, porters, migrant workers and cleaners enabled the mission to better understand their lives, their difficulties, and the world they want after 2015.
Ms. Vu Thi Phuong, 27, a shop assistant in a clothing store, followed her mother from Hung Yen Province to Hanoi three years ago, and is able to save money to assist her unemployed father and younger brother. "I also want to continue my studies and after that I'll be able to get a good job to support my family," she said.
It isn't far from Danang city centre, but 48-year-old Huynh Thi Loi hops onto a train to Thua Thien in Hue Province to collect firewood. When she cannot get there, she collects fish at the coast. This brings in an average daily income for her and her two children of about 50,000 dong – equivalent to two US dollars thirty cents.
"I just need six pigs, 20 chickens and 10 ducks to breed to escape poverty," she said.
The United Nations mission was part of series of consultations conducted in Viet Nam to ask people about the world they want and what they think the priorities for a new development framework for 2015 and beyond should be.
The people interviewed here are among eight target groups being consulted in Viet Nam, namely ethnic minorities, the urban and rural poor, people with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS, young people, the elderly and the private sector.