Credit Access in CambodiaIn recent years, cooperation between financial institutions and the Credit Bureau of Cambodia (CBC) has made credit access in Cambodia easier. Currently, 49.9 percent of individuals in Cambodia have access to credit. Credit coverage in Cambodia covers 5,059,897 individuals, and in 2017, the country came in seventh in the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” ranking under “Getting Credit,” a category which measures credit information sharing and legal rights of borrowers and lenders.

“We are very proud our activities have allowed Cambodia to improve its position in the World Bank’s ranking, particularly when it comes to securing credit,” stated Oeur Sothearoath, the CBC’s CEO. The CBC is Cambodia’s leading provider of credit information, analytical solutions and credit reporting services to banks, microfinance institutes, leasing companies, credit operators and consumers in Cambodia. It provides the tools needed to analyze and reduce credit risks and, even more so, increase transparency in providing credit.

The deputy governor of the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), Neav Chanthana, has also agreed that the work of the CBC has allowed borrowers more extensive and faster access to credit, noting that the new World Bank rating has already been able to attract new investors into the country. She further applauded the CBC, stating how its achievements reflect the development of the country’s financial infrastructure, with improvements to the credit information system being vital for customers and the financial sector.

The NBC, along with the Association of Banks in Cambodia, the Cambodian Micro-finance Association and the International Finance Corporation, all have been strong supporters of the establishment of the CBC. The CBC, in response to the demands of the National Bank, plans to run a fair, transparent and well-managed credit market which would support economic growth in Cambodia.

Credit access in Cambodia has continued to improve since programs launched in 2010, making credit for agribusinesses more accessible. Cambodia’s agribusiness sector plays an essential role in aiding the country’s economic growth, poverty reduction and job creation. This financial program has been a collaborative effort between the Royal Government of Cambodia, the International Finance Corporation and the International Development Association.

By guaranteeing that 50 percent of the loans extended by participating banks and microfinance institutions extend to this sector, the program aims to mitigate the default risk banks face when lending to Cambodian agribusinesses. This improved access to finance for agribusinesses has provided strong support to the country’s economy, with agriculture accounting for one-third of the country’s GDP and employing around 70 percent of the population.

Further data is provided by the World Bank with its Credit Information Index which measures the scope, access and quality of credit information available through public registries and private bureaus. The index includes a variety of indicators whose values indicate the amount of credit information available.

The “strength of legal rights index,” on a scale from zero to 12, measures the degree to which collateral and bankruptcy laws protect borrower and lender rights, and “credit bureau coverage” indicates the number of individuals and firms listed by a private credit bureau with information on their borrowing history. The country scored 10 and 49.9 percent.

Credit access in Cambodia over the past few years has increased in strength and size. With continued improvements being made in credit access, positive changes should continue to be seen in Cambodia’s businesses.

– Ashley Quigley

Photo: Flickr

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Cambodia
In light of recent political events and President Trump’s “America First” agenda, many politicians are considering cutting spending on U.S. foreign aid. However, there are a number of ways that the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Cambodia, making foreign aid a wise investment. United States foreign aid to Cambodia is a very complex issue and must be treated as such.

The United States, by providing aid to foreign countries, fosters stability, revitalization and cooperation all over the world. Many countries compete to gain diplomatic and political influence around the globe through foreign aid spending. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Cambodia include fighting global warming and preventing the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. Not only are these efforts morally good, they protect United States citizens from epidemics and disasters while stabilizing the economies and governmental relations of many countries around the globe.

Cambodia has been ravaged by wars, corruption and poverty in recent years. United States foreign aid has been effective at stabilizing the country, and since economic conditions have normalized, the United States has become the largest purchaser of Cambodian exports in the world. In 2017, the United States spent $88.52 million in Cambodia on foreign aid for health, education, economic growth, security, environmental protection and governance. Through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), many improvements have been made in Cambodia through the disbursement of foreign aid.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Cambodia have manifested in preventing the spread of diseases, reducing crime and fostering economic development. An example of a program run by USAID in Cambodia is the ASSIST Project, in which the United States provides funding and advisors from health-related professions, ensuring that business models and medical practices are effective.

USAID also funds other programs such as the Country Development Cooperation Strategy to utilize resources that provide education and resources for a more efficient democracy in Cambodia. By promoting a stable government, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Cambodia by reducing the risk of war or other conflicts that could involve the U.S. military or put American citizens in danger.

U.S. foreign aid also helps build schools for children to learn other languages, increase government involvement and promote human rights and civil liberties in Cambodia. Cambodians have also seen improvements in their health services, a reduction in preventable deaths and a rise in literacy rates as a result of U.S. foreign aid. Because of these improvements, Cambodians are better able to participate in the economy, which allows U.S.-Cambodian trade to continue to grow.

In conclusion, while foreign aid may seem like an unnecessary expense in modern times, it may be one of the most needed expenses our government has today. The people of Cambodia not only rely upon the United States for foreign aid, but reward the U.S. with cooperation and trade in return. For the people of Cambodia and many other countries around the world, U.S. foreign aid is an investment on which they depend on and one which the United States cannot afford to overlook.

– Dalton Westfall

Photo: Flickr

HIVAIDS Rates in Cambodia Are Dropping Down to Virtual Elimination
In 2005, the HIV/AIDS death rates in Cambodia were ranked at number 5, and by 2016 dropped down to rank 24. This decrease totaled 71 percent, and Cambodia is now part of the United States Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) as well as the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF).

HIV/AIDS rates in Cambodia have dropped so low that the country is one of few countries titled with being incredibly successful at reversing this epidemic.

AHF

AHF works to provide health treatments and care at the local communities for HIV and AIDS. AHF also offers numerous free services such as testing, education, condoms, ARV’s, OI drugs and even some transportation. As of January 2017, AHF is working with more than 50 percent of people in Cambodia who live with HIV.

This success has been astounding, according to AHF, because of “firm political commitment, focused and appropriate strategic planning, sound management, broad-based stakeholder partnerships, and effective implementation based on standardized operating procedures.”

PEPFAR

PEPFAR is a USAID program focused on transforming the global response to HIV and AIDS. Currently, PEPFAR is working in over 50 countries helping more than 13.3 million people. This program has further contributed to the successful drop of HIV/AIDS rates in Cambodia.

However, in Cambodia, PEPFAR works closely with four specific provinces most in need of aid: Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Since Cambodia has had such a high success rate, PEPFAR is now focusing heavily on sustainable financing for its government over a two-year period. This effort began in 2017 and works to strengthen national systems in discovering new cases, and prevent new cases of HIV from spreading.

PEPFAR is also working hard to achieve fewer than 300 new HIV infections in Cambodia annually by 2025; if accomplished, this feat will be considered a virtual elimination of the disease.

Various Successes

Constant efforts from both AHF and PEPFAR have resulted in massive drop rates of the HIV/AIDS rates in Cambodia. For instance, 2.2 million babies are now born HIV-free, even when their mothers are HIV positive. PEPFAR is also helping more than 6.4 million orphans, vulnerable children and their caretakers.

According to AHF, the rate of HIV/AIDS from ages 15-49 declined all the way down to 0.6 percent in 2015, and will continue to decrease to the hopeful virtual elimination by 2025. This elimination is contributed heavily to the 2016-2020 plan by the Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS and STI Prevention and Control in the Health Sector in Cambodia.

Potential for Progress

Over the past 25 years, Cambodia had made immense progress in reducing the HIV/AIDS rates. Every year since has resulted in a continuation of this decrease to virtual elimination. Even now, in 2018, Cambodia may be considered a success story for both PEPFAR and ATH.

Both of these organizations work tremendously well to help HIV/AIDS rates in Cambodia drop and continue to decline every day.

– Amber Duffus

Photo: Flickr

reducing poverty through agricultureA growing population and the increased demand for food are burning problems in the present day. Many scientists, organizations, individuals and political bodies are coming forward to find solutions to this problem. Feeding so many mouths is not a simple task, but research and hard work are making the impossible at least feasible.

These are some methodical and sustainable ways of reducing poverty through agriculture and farming, especially in places with unfavorable climates, degraded soil and poor socioeconomic conditions.

 

Reforestation Through Cash Crops in Guatemala

Although Guatemala’s name means “a land of endless trees,” 80 percent of them were destroyed within a decade due to cattle breeding, corn farming, illegal settlements and destructive logging practices.

In order to restore the land to its previous condition, an organization named Livelihoods Funds, along with the government of Guatemala, took the initiative in reforestation by planting four million trees of various species over an area of 4,000 hectares.

The trees are mostly cash crops like rubber, coffee, patchouli, cocoa, mahogany, laurel, cedar and citrus plants. This helps the local community with reducing poverty through agriculture, boosting economic development and prevents climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

 

Reducing Hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa

Hunger, malnutrition and stunting prove detrimental to the economic advancement of any country. The Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) came up with the initiative of helping individual farm families of Africa through nutrition-sensitive agricultural development.

Their aim is to provide technical assistance and a knowledge base for increasing food security with improved nutrition. Currently, their work is concentrated in sub-Saharan African countries, including Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania.

 

Alternative Food Production in Kenya

Kenya suffers from inadequate rainfall, which affects the production of maize, the primary staple crop of most smallholder farmers. The result is that a vast population suffers from hunger and starvation.

One Acre Fund is helping the Kenyan government with reducing poverty through agriculture by planting drought-resistant crops like millet and sorghum, which act as a source of food and income during times of inadequate rainfall. The organization also trains farmers in sustainable planting techniques and fertilizer usage.

 

Integrated Pest Management Techniques in Honduras

CropLife International, along with the United States Agency for International Development, is helping the people of Honduras with integrated pest management techniques. With the help of field officials, they train the farmers in good agricultural practices.

The pest management helps protect the crops and increases their quality and productivity, fetching better incomes for the farmers while improving their livelihoods. It is a powerful example of fighting extreme poverty.

 

Bio-fortification in Rwanda

In Rwanda, an organization named HarvestPlus has introduced a nutritious variety of beans through bio-fortification, a process of increasing vitamins and minerals in plants through biotechnology. The beans are rich in iron and also have the capacity to resist viruses. They are suitable for extreme climates, producing a higher yield and thus increasing the incomes of farmers.

 

Fish Farming in Cambodia

The Feed the Future project in Cambodia is helping hatcheries raise good quality young fish known as fingerlings. The project provides cost-effective and simple technology to manage the clarity, nutrients and water quality of ponds. As a result of this technology, the growth rate and average weight of fingerlings has increased. helping individual hatcheries thrive.

The above methodologies are mainly applied in sub-Saharan and Latin American countries where there are extreme temperatures, drought and unsuitable soil. But these models can also be implemented in other parts of the world to increase the productivity of crops and meet the growing demand for food and simultaneously reducing the poverty of farmers.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Pixabay

sustainable agriculture in CambodiaFrom 2004-2012, Cambodia experienced a spurt of economic growth due in large part to an increase in rice production. During that time period, the country’s agricultural gross product increased by 8.7 percent.

But since 2012, the growth in agriculture has slowed. In 2013-14, agricultural gross product fell below 2 percent. Much of the past growth came from the expansion of cultivated lands, but this expansion may have reached its limits. In order for Cambodia to continue to grow its economy and support those who rely on agriculture, sustainable agriculture in Cambodia will become increasingly important to the country’s future.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is assisting Cambodia’s agriculture sector through the Feed the Future program. The program has trained over 193,000 farmers in new technologies. This has led to an increase in income among those in the farming industry as well as a 30 percent decrease in the number of underweight children in Cambodia.

USAID is continuing its work in Cambodia and has laid out its goals and expected results for the future. These expectations include continuing to help farmers increase sales and working with the private sector to grow and leverage investments in horticulture.

In September 2016, Kansas State University partnered with the USAID Feed the Future program to launch the Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition (CE SAIN). The center seeks to increase sustainable agriculture in Cambodia with a combination of private sector innovation, public sector improvement and training in sustainable agriculture techniques. These goals are accomplished in part by innovation labs and technology parks that highlight new technologies and strategies.

Another project funded by the partnership between USAID and CE SAIN is being run by Penn State University and focuses on the northern part of Cambodia. This program will work directly with 250 women in the agricultural industry. It will teach the women new farming techniques as well as how to successfully deal with climate change.

Rick Bates, a horticulture professor at Penn State, said that the program’s goal is “growing more food, on existing land, using fewer resources and in an ecologically friendly manner”. This sums up why sustainable agriculture in Cambodia is such a vital part of the country’s future. When the expansion of cultivated lands is no longer an option, new and innovative technologies can help farmers grow crops more efficiently on the land that is available.

– Aaron Childree

Photo: Flickr

humanitarian aid to cambodia
During the 1970s, Cambodia went from one of the most thriving economies in Southeast Asia to one of the poorest countries in the world. Although overthrown by 1979, the Khmer Rouge regime had already done damage to the economy by cutting access to education, eradicating free markets and stifling individuality. The country was haunted further by the mass genocide and government corruption carried out by the regime, leading to a need for restructuring for almost an entire decade following the devastation.

As of 2014, Cambodia has been recognized as being one of the best performers with respect to reducing its poverty rate. Both citizens and developed countries have contributed humanitarian aid to Cambodia, which has helped address poverty rates in the country.

In 2016, 80 U.S. troops were sent to Cambodia by the humanitarian aid group, Pacific Angel. This is the fourth Pacific Angel mission held in Cambodia since its 2007 establishment. This mission focuses on the rural province of Kampot, providing aid through healthcare, school supplies and civil-engineering projects.

Another leading contributor of humanitarian aid to Cambodia is Australia, remaining one of the most significant bilateral grant-based donors. Australia’s provision of official development assistance from 2015-2016 to Cambodia was AUD $92 million. The three main objectives of Australia’s aid are: providing better health and education, improving access to infrastructure and increasing agricultural productivity.

Through each sector, a focus on women’s empowerment, disability, governance and inclusive participation will be implemented. Australia’s target is to drive growth in the economy through working with private sectors, as well as to achieve aid for trade by 2020.

As a result of the aid provided by Australia from 2015-2016, 500,000 Cambodians in rural areas received greater access to jobs, food and higher incomes while creating higher investments. Cambodians also received more access to land and experienced increases in crop production. Over 9,950 women and their families received counseling, shelter and legal aid. Rehabilitation was provided to over 31,000 disabled citizens through a strongly executed disability-precise program.

Caritas, a nonprofit organization, also provides humanitarian aid to Cambodia which benefits young people dealing with disabilities. While assisting individuals in the job market and supporting their inclusion in society, Caritas also aims to also address local poverty in Cambodia.

Cambodia has come a long way from the late 1990s and is slowly regaining success in its economy. Though poverty has not been completely eliminated, with the help of humanitarian aid Cambodia is sure to see the poverty rate continue to decrease each year.

– Tara Jackson

Photo: Flickr

McCain seeks to protect Cambodians' Human Rights
The United States government has been invested in Cambodian development since the Paris Peace Accords in 1991, when an internationally supported plan to transition Cambodia towards democracy was set into motion. The United States has since provided hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance to Cambodia, aiding health, development and nongovernmental organizations. Despite these efforts, Cambodia remains an undemocratic society, dominated by one party whose failure to hold free and fair elections is currently threatening the health and well-being of the people of Cambodia. Senator John McCain recently introduced a resolution to Congress which would reaffirm the commitment of the United States to promote democracy and the rule of law in Cambodia, asserting his dedication to protecting Cambodians’ human rights.

Cambodia’s progress towards democracy has resulted in steady economic growth as well as significant improvements in public health. However, there are still almost three million Cambodians living in poverty. Maternal and child mortality rates are high, access to safe water and sanitation is limited and there is a growing epidemic of noncommunicable and communicable diseases. Healthcare is not readily available to the poor, who cannot afford the burden of high out of pocket costs, which make up the majority of Cambodia’s national health expenditures. Without proper leadership in public health programs and adequate access to healthcare, Cambodia’s health crisis will continue.

Unfortunately, Cambodian progress has been derailed during the past few years and Cambodians’ human rights are becoming increasingly threatened. The Cambodian government has begun seizing even tighter control, pushing out public programs that would help protect citizens’ well being, restricting the media, and assassinating or arresting individuals who seek to undermine their oppressive authority. Among those arrested in just the past two years include a women’s rights activist, senior members of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, the president of the Cambodian National Rescue Party and a political commentator. In just the past few months, the Cambodian government has forced out members of the Peace Corps, ordered the closure of the National Democratic Institute and held a threatening election in violation of campaign rules after demanding that election monitoring organizations cease their activities.

The resolution McCain seeks to pass would condemn the political violence and impropriety currently threatening Cambodians’ human rights. If passed, the United States government would place implicated Cambodian officials on a Specially Designated Nationals list and call on the Cambodian government to hold free elections that would allow citizens to elect leaders that would prioritize their health and well-being.

– Jenae Atwell

Photo: Flickr

Development Projects in CambodiaCambodia is a developing country with a population of over 16 million. There are many ways for countries to become developed, including improvements to infrastructure and education. Here are five development projects in Cambodia.

  1. Secondary Education Improvement Act. The country of Cambodia achieved a 98 percent primary enrollment in 2015. Cambodia has done much to expand education, including building 1,000 schools over the past 10 years. The purpose of the Secondary Education Act is “to expand lower secondary education to achieve minimum standards in target areas,” according to the World Bank. Since having basic reading skills can increase one’s earnings, this act can have potential long-term benefits.
  2. Livelihood Enhancement and Association of the Poor Project (LEAP) Almost 18 percent of Cambodia’s population is under the poverty line. The LEAP project aims to increase access to financial services and income generating opportunities for vulnerable households.
  3. Water Resources Management Sector Development Program. About 75 percent of the population has access to clean drinking water. The program will upgrade the irrigation systems in Cambodia so that people will have access to clean water. According to the Asian Development Bank, the project will also strengthen the capacity of the government and communities to manage water resources.
  4. Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) for Floating Villages Project. While the net enrollment for primary education is 98 percent, enrollment for children aged three to five is only 41 percent. The ECCD project aims to provide access to quality services through community and home-based programs for children under age five.
  5. Flood Damage Emergency Reconstruction Project. In 2011, a flood in Cambodia destroyed crops, infrastructure and overall affected more than 1 million people. This particular project aims to help rebuild the infrastructure that was damaged in the flooded area, such as 524 kilometers of roads and six bridges. It will also restore irrigation systems and people’s livelihoods.

Cambodia has experienced strong economic growth over the last decade, with an average annual growth rate of their GDP at over seven percent per year. With these project and plans in place, the country will be on the right track to building and developing further. As many of these development projects in Cambodia strive to increase earnings at an individual level, the economic benefits will continue to be tremendous.

– Dezanii Lewis

Photo: Flickr

 

Malnutrition in Impoverished CountriesAnemia is the most common nutritional problem in the world. There are over two billion people that are anemic. Tackling malnutrition in impoverished countries can be difficult, but the creators of the Lucky Iron Fish hope to alleviate a worldwide issue.

When the creator of the Lucky Iron Fish, Christopher Charles went to Cambodia, he found that there were many people suffering from iron deficiency and anemia. About half of the women and children in the entire country was not getting the proper amount of iron in their diets. That caused many people to be tired, suffer constant headaches, and even made them unable to work at times.

When Dr. Charles visited, there were no real solutions to this problem. Iron supplements were not widely available and even if people could get their hands on them, the iron supplements were too expensive. Cambodians also did not want to take the supplements due to various side effects.

Dr. Charles wanted to come up with a solution to all of these problems. The Lucky Iron Fish is the solution Cambodians were looking for.

The Lucky Iron Fish is a small iron fish that can be used to infuse foods with a healthy amount of iron. Iron supplements tend to have too much iron in them which can be detrimental to your health. The Lucky Iron Fish infuses meals with about 75 percent of the daily recommended iron so people are not getting too much iron in their meals, so there are no ill side effects.

Another problem with iron supplements is that people usually just do not like taking them. The Lucky Iron Fish is made to be cooked in food that people were going to eat anyways. When using the fish, they just need to boil it for 10 minutes along with their food and the meal is now iron rich. Not only that, but the iron is tasteless so it does not affect the meals.

Cost is a major factor when dealing with malnutrition in impoverished countries. High cost can end up making the product unavailable to those who need it most.

The Lucky Iron Fish itself cost about 30 USD. So it is not too expensive so it can be bought by many people. Not only that, but the creators of the Iron Fish have a buy a fish give a fish program. Anyone who buys a fish will also end up giving a fish to a family who needs it.

30 USD can end up looking expensive for some because people think they have to replace it every couple of months. A single Lucky Iron Fish can end up being used for five years before needing replacing.

Tackling malnutrition in impoverished countries can be a challenge. Cost and effectiveness of a product can really reduce resources for impoverished countries to use. The Luck Iron Fish tackles all of these issues to make sure people are getting the best product to tackle anemia and iron deficiency.

The original target for the Lucky Iron Fish was for Cambodians. Now anyone can buy them and the creators are hoping to send one million fishes worldwide by 2020.

– Daniel Borjas

Photo: Google

Women's Empowerment in CambodiaSlightly smaller than the state of Oklahoma, the Southeast Asian country of Cambodia has a population of about 16 million, with over half being women. The country is rich in natural resources and has very low levels of unemployment. Despite the high levels of employment, there remains an economic gender gap and a need for women’s empowerment in Cambodia.

This gender gap is not only related to the unequal pay of women compared to men, but women in Cambodia often lack job opportunities and career versatility compared to their male counterparts. Women’s empowerment in Cambodia is paramount because it can have profound impacts on the number of individuals living in deep poverty.

Economic Inequality and Lack of Education

Women in Cambodia who fall under wage employment, make approximately 80.8 percent of men’s earnings. According to the World Bank, there is evidence that this wage gap is growing, from 20 percent in 2009 to 30 percent in 2011. Additionally, approximately 53 percent of women between the ages of 15 to 64, work in agriculture production. This is considered to be a vulnerable type of employment.

According to the International Labour Organization, vulnerable employment is the sum of own-account workers and unpaid contributing family workers. Vulnerable workers often have poor and inadequate working conditions and frequently live in deep poverty.

Women also often have less career versatility and opportunities compared to men due in part to a lack of education and low literacy rates.  In 2012, the literacy rate among women in Cambodia was 73.2 percent, an increase of nearly 13 percent in 2004. However, the literacy rates for men remain much higher at about 87 percent. Girls often tend to drop out of school in greater numbers compared to boys, in turn limiting their job potential later in life.

What can be done?

There are a number of obstacles to women’s empowerment in Cambodia, all of which are primarily related to education. In 2013, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA) became more active in Cambodia, working to reduce poverty, improve health and raise educational levels for women. The goal of their work is to provide women with the necessary skills and resources and economically empower women in Cambodia.

The desperately needed economic women’s empowerment in Cambodia can be achieved through education. Once women are educated and empowered, more individuals and families can be lifted out of poverty and the livelihood of millions can improve.

– Sarah Jane Fraser

Photo: Flickr