Communities, no matter how marginalized or impoverished, have an astonishing capability for taking care of their most vulnerable members. In Viet Nam, a network of over 1,500 inter-generational self-help clubs, started by HelpAge and local partners, is harnessing this willingness of community members to support each other in tough times. The clubs are not only helping their members to get by financially, but also to lead healthier, happier and more productive lives.

The initiative has proven especially valuable for older persons, ethnic minorities, rural areas inhabitants and other populations at risk of being left behind. By joining the self-help clubs, they gain access to everything from periodic health check-ups to free assistance from volunteers, to financial empowerment and to participation in cultural activities.

Thanks to partnerships with local authorities and service providers, as well as income-generating activities, each self-help club can become financially independent after only two years from its establishment.

This community-based has proven an enormous success, growing from a pilot phase to 1,535 self-help clubs, present in 57 out of the country’s 63 cities and provinces in just 10 years. In that time, the clubs have helped over 53,000 families living in poverty with loans or revolving material support. At least 10,000 households received support from the clubs to assert their rights and access their entitlements. And more than 7,000 disadvantaged community members or persons with disabilities receive regular home-care support at least twice a week.

The clubs have demonstrated that they can serve as a strong mechanism for informal sustainable social protection for vulnerable households which enables higher income, better health and care and can be an effective platform to mobilize collective voices for rights and entitlements of disadvantaged groups. By engaging those at risk of being left behind, the clubs bring the marginalized back to the centre, allowing them to become once again productive and valued members of their communities.

What are the inspiring breakthroughs and success stories that illustrate SDG implementation? What are the good practices that can be replicated and scaled up? What are the gaps and constraints and how should we address them? Looking ahead, what steps should we take to accelerate progress? To help answer these and other questions, UN DESA gathered more than 600 good SDG practices in a searchable online database. Be inspired by SDG solutions that work:

Photo: Brayden Howie / HelpAge International