The RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies' Blog

Social and cultural development in the Development Triangle: Challenges faced by Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia

Posted in ASEAN-Canada Partnership by NTSblog on May 19, 2013

Socio-cultural development in the Development Triangle Area of mainland Southeast Asia – comprising of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia – continues to face several challenges despite recent support from ASEAN and other international organizations. Countries in the Development Triangle’s vary in terms of their geography, topography, social norms, religions, and nationalist characteristics. Such a diverse range of factors have to some extent also affected the general development of the region. While such diversity is also evident in other Southeast Asian countries, the Development Triangle Area countries are still considered as “bottomland” and lags far behind other countries in Southeast Asia.

Given growing social problems (such as cross-border crimes and environmental degradation), countries in the Development Triangle have recently established a consistent plan for ensuring that their basic development is equitable development. Equitable development does not only seek to address economic issues, but also socio-cultural aspects, such as increase investments in health, education and social services. Doing so would enhance the capacity of individual workers, improve the ability to develop and implement policies, enhance fairness in society, and build social security networks to eliminate poverty amongst marginalised communities amidst the conventional economic development process.

The problem that remains is how to sustain high growth while reducing the societal inequalities, which have been a result of inequitable growth, and in turn, increasing inequitable access to income and social services.

Over the last decade, thanks to cooperation among the three countries, the support of ASEAN as well as external funding of international donor countries, such as Japan and Canada, the CLV Development Triangle Area has had significant achievements. For example, there has been increasing living standards, reduced poverty levels, upgraded social services, improved educational levels, and heightened social order and security.

However, if compared with development levels of other countries in the region, the Development Triangle Area needs more internal efforts and continued effective support from organizations and donor countries.

Policies with a long-term strategic vision should be recommended to guide regional development in order to accelerate the development of the region’s assets, and subsequently facilitate equitable development to narrow the developmental gaps amongst ASEAN countries.


This blog post has been written by Hoang Thi My Nhi. My Nhi is a PhD candidate at the Vietnam National University, a researcher in the Institute of Southeast Asia Studies, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS), and a  Junior Fellow for 2012 under the ASEAN–Canada Research Partnership.

For more information on the ASEAN–Canada Research Partnership, please click here.


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