Management policy on housing for migrant workers in industrial zones in Vietnam urban areas to mitigate social risks

Management policy on housing for migrant workers in industrial zones in Vietnam urban areas to mitigate social risks

Ta Quynh Hoa

The economic reform launched in Vietnam since early 1990s has generated a momentum for a new development period marked by industrialization and modernization. The last two decades have witnessed a fast increase in the number of industrial and processing zones (IZs) all over the country. Up to now, there have been some 135 IZs covering an area of 20 thousand hectares. 80% of those IZs have been built in urban areas. According to statistics, between 2001 and 2010, about a million migrant workers have been attracted to the IZs in major cities in Vietnam including Hanoi, Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh, and Binh Duong just to name a few. As a consequence, there is an escalation in demand for housing for migrant workers. Nevertheless, housing stock for migrant workers has so far remained in severe inadequacy as only about one tenth of such demand is met. Therefore, most of migrant workers have been faced with serious problems of living conditions. Moreover, as typically poor migrants from rural to urban areas, they are both vulnerable to social risks and in great need of appropriate risk management instruments, which are inherently and severely lacking.
This paper aims to review the current situation of housing management for migrant workers in the IZs and analyze related social issues caused by poor living conditions, polluted environment, inadequate social infrastructure and the force to change in lifestyle to adapt rapidly to an urban setting. Existing policies and legal mechanisms on housing support for migrant workers in IZs are also discussed to define the roles shared among different stakeholders as well as challenges or barriers for implementing these policies.
The main arguments in the paper include: 1) Challenges and barriers on housing development for migrant workers in IZs should be seen from different angles: urban planning strategies, housing provision mechanisms for low income groups of people, and the integration among Government, developer and community; 2) Housing management policy for migrant workers should be implemented with close co-operation between local governments, developers, enterprises and civil society in a dynamic manner to meet the basic need of migrant workers for better living quality while reducing social risks; 3) Civil society and non-governmental organizations should play an important role in providing support and instruments for migrant labors to cope with social issues and reduce their vulnerability.
To conclude, the paper gives some recommendations on planning strategies for IZs development, which comprise housing strategy for migrant workers, improving infrastructure and social services that migrant workers can access easily, technical and financial support to protect them from social risks. Sharing responsibility among government, developer and civil society in housing development and management for migrant labors is essential to mitigate social risk in the development process of cities in Vietnam.

Key words: housing policy, migrant workers, industrial zones, social risks, management, multi sectors

Ta Quynh Hoa, Ma. Urban Design, Ma. Arch
Lecturer in Architecture and Planning Faculty,
National University of Civil Engineering