Rice ATMs: How Vietnam is Combating Unemployment and Helping the Poor

A Vietnamese entrepreneur in Ho Chi Minh City has invented a 24/7 automatic dispensing machine providing free rice for people out of work following an ongoing nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Vietnam has reported 262 COVID-19 cases, and no deaths so far, but as a result of a 15-day social distancing programme that began on March 31 many small businesses have been closed and thousands of people temporarily laid off from work.

The machine distributes a 1.5kg of rice from a small silo to waiting workers, many of whom are street sellers or people who earned a living from cash-in-hand jobs like housekeeping or selling lottery tickets.

Hoang Tuan Anh, the businessman behind the idea, had initially donated a batch of smart doorbells to hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City before turning his technological expertise to food distribution.

Similar “rice ATMs” have been set up in other big cities like Hanoi, Hue and Danang, according to state media.

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The Vietnamese government has introduced a stimulus package designed to help society’s most vulnerable but some people living on the margin have not received enough support. Therefore, Rice ATMs are a big help for those struggling for food.

We hope governments all around the world continue to find more and more ways to help those that cannot help themselves during this frightening pandemic.

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