World Bank, Japan Support Greater Access to Legal Services for the Poor and Vulnerable Groups in Vietnam

HANOI  —The World Bank and the State Bank of Vietnam have signed an agreement that will allow a US$2.5 million grant from the Japan Social Development Fund to finance a project that will strengthen the delivery of legal aid services to vulnerable groups in the northern part of Vietnam, focusing on Dien Bien and Yen Bai provinces.

The project, Vietnam: Improved Delivery of Legal Aid for the Poor and Vulnerable, will support legal aid services covering criminal law (with a special focus on gender-based violence), marriage and family law, and employment and labor law. It is estimated that nearly 10,000 people, including ethnic minorities, poor households, survivors of gender-based violence, and people with disabilities, will benefit from the project’s interventions.

“The most vulnerable populations in Vietnam tend to have the least access to legal aid services,” said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam. “Yet legal problems can impact livelihoods, causes financial distress, and prevent people from escaping poverty. This operation aims to remove barriers to obtaining legal aid and to ensure quality legal aid is being used by people in need.”

The first component of the four-year project will help improve access to and promote the use of legal aid services. The second will build capacity among legal aid practitioners, providing the skills needed to handle criminal, civil, family, and administrative law cases, plus the communication skills needed to work with target groups. The third component will include pilot activities to expand the network of legal aid service providers and establish a monitoring system to assess service quality.

The Ministry of Justice will be the implementing agency.

The Japan Social Development Fund, which is a partnership between the Government of Japan and the World Bank, provides grants in support of community-driven development and poverty reduction projects that empower the poorest and most vulnerable groups not reached by other programs and improve their lives through direct benefits.