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"Vietnam has a unique opportunity to urbanize properly. If we fail in urbanization, we will fail in industrialization and modernization "- Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung spoke at the National Urban Conference, on 11/6/2009.

That's the quote of Mr. Dean Cira, Lead Urban Development Specialist of the World Bank (WB) at the workshop to introduce report "Vietnam’s Urbanization Review" held in Ho Chi Minh City on April 18th 2012 (HIDS and WB carry out combined operations). There were representatives of government departments, scientists, agencies and media communications…attending the workshop.

This report is a study of World Bank on the urbanization process in Vietnam. According to Dean Cira, the purpose of the report is to understand the main aspects of the urbanization process in Vietnam; to identifying the trends, opportunities, challenges and priorities that government should do to achieve the objective of urbanization.

The report was made ​​with consultation of central agencies, local governments, private groups, international organizations based on a rich portfolio of World Bank, including activities for investment loans, policy loans, and intensive research.

Urbanization will move to higher stages soon

According to the report, Vietnam is in the process of urbanization transition from primitive to more advanced stage, at a rapid rate of economic transition and urbanization. Currently, Vietnam's urbanization rate is 30%, urban population accounted for 34% of the population nationwide, with 3.4% growth rate each year. Some largest citis such as Hanoi and HCMC, surrounding areas and some urban areas have reached the average size of the population growth fastest in 10 years. In contrast, the small towns have  the slow speed of population growth, some areas have the issues of decreased population.

However, the competitive advantage of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City has been limited by serious logistical problems, unusual transportation costs, increasing traffic congestion and some deeper issues in land management and administration such as: prices of property in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city are much higher in comparison with other cities in Asia; prices of vacant land in Hanoi are higher than in Ho Chi Minh…

Besides, the urban planning system in Vietnam is mainly based on the principles of design, not support the function of promoting housing and urban movements.

Another highlight in the urbanization process in Vietnam is 96% of households had accessed to the national grid. However, the access to clean water and sanitation services remain limited...

At the same time, the report highlighted the main challenges when urbanization continues as ensuring cost recovery, this will forward to better services, increasing efficiency and quality of the services provision to meet growing demand and reduce costs, reduce the dependence and public investment, to seek sustainable funding sources (eg from the private sector) and to reduce the difference between the large and small cities.

Urbanization is an inevitable process

Dr. Nguyen Trong Hoa - Director of HIDS - said that urbanization is an inevitable process for development, but the problem to minimize the limitations of the urbanization process is more important. It is necessary to have ample funds to make urbanization good. State has been spending much money to invest in infrastructure systems to connect existing urban. Therefore, it is better to build urban areas along the metro lines to maximize the efficiency of transport systems which have been invested.

In addition, to reduce the problem of overload for big cities such as Hanoi and HCMC, it is necessary to plan and develop new satellite cities to decrease population density.

It requires a synchronous, sustainable and balanced investment to urbanize well. The focus on development in the Danang, Dung Quat, Nha Trang, Quy Nhon has reduced the pressure of population to 2 major cities Hanoi and HCMC.

According to Mr. Nguyen Thanh Ha - Head of Urban Planning major, Architecture University of Ho Chi Minh City: We need to define clearly the essence of urbanization in the context of economic development, and should look at both the negative and positive aspects.

On the sideline, Mr. Dean Cira said, in the process of urbanization, Vietnam needs to ensure three key issues. First, land has to be used properly so that people can access housing in urban areas. Second, traffic should be through and easy to move. Third, services in urban areas such as health, education and entertainment need to be full provided.

At the end, Dr. Nguyen Trong Hoa appreciated the results of this study and ensure that HIDS will present this report to the City People's Committee soon.

According to WB, urban planning system in Vietnam has two basic areas need to strengthen. First, the approach to the overall planning of Vietnam is not based on verifiable fact - and need to improve to show more precisely the aspects and positions in demand. Second, like many other countries, the planning system based on fragmentation and regional integration, not be in full coordination with functional areas of space. These are two important issues to be addressed, because the efficiency of urban and the benefits from the accumulation of long-term economy will depend significantly on the level of solving the inefficiencies in urban planning system.

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