Poverty in Cambodia
In May 2016, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a $130 million grant to help reduce poverty in Cambodia and improve the lives of poor Cambodians.

The Royal Government of Cambodia and the World Bank signed an agreement on June 9, 2016. This agreement details the four major projects funded by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s lending arm for the world’s poorest developing countries.

There are 3 million Cambodians living in poverty. However, poverty in Cambodia has steadily decreased over the past 8 years. Currently, 17.7 percent of the Cambodian population is living below the poverty line, compared to 34 percent in 2008.

Needless to say there is still work to be done in Cambodia. The World Bank agreement has created projects that target four specific areas of development to help alleviate poverty in Cambodia.

Health Equity and Quality Improvement ($30 million)

Life expectancy in Cambodia is 68.2 years, while the average life expectancy of developing countries in East Asia and the Pacific is 74.

The Health Improvement plan has two primary focus areas for funding Cambodia’s health care system. The Health Equity Fund helps to provide reliable financing for health facilities as well as cover costs for low income families, in order to reduce out-of pocket spending.

The second focus area applies to redesigned Service Delivery Grants working to improve the quality of health services. It places an emphasis on bettering health-facility management and staff in addition to enhancing coverage of health services.

Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management ($15 million)

Some of the most intensive freshwater fisheries are located in Cambodia. Fishermen catch 2.6 million metric tons of fish in the Mekong basin annually. However, Cambodia’s growing population and overfishing are causing the depletion of fish stocks in Cambodian waters.

The Water Management project aims to improve the oversight of fisheries and water resources specific to the Mekong River Basin.

Road Asset Management ($60 million)

Road condition surveys conducted in 2005 indicated that 60 percent of roads in Cambodia are in poor or bad condition.

This infrastructure development project is projected to supplement 218 kilometers (135.459 miles) of roads. They will also install flood resistant measures. The road improvement will allow for faster travel and better connectivity between the Preah Sihanouk, Kampot, Tbong Khmom, and Kratie provinces.

Land Allocation for Social and Economic Development Project ($25 million)

Agriculture has become increasingly vital for the Cambodian economy and fight against poverty.

Over the past decade, positive developments in agriculture have lifted 4 million people out of poverty. However, as farmland diminishes and global food prices decline, Cambodia is in need of new pathways to promote future agricultural growth.

The Land Allocation Project will provide more than 5,000 land-poor or previously landless families across five provinces with agricultural livelihood support. This project will also include the education and implementation of better farming practices.

In a World Bank press release article Ulrich Zachau, the Country Director of the World Bank for Southeast Asia, made a statement on the day of the signing: “The four projects signed today all contribute to improving the lives of poor Cambodians, and we are glad to support them.”

Kristyn Rohrer

Photo: World Bank