Homelessness in CambodiaCambodia is a developing country in Southeast Asia. With a population of more than 16 million, more than one-fourth of the country lives in poverty. Many live just above the poverty line of $1.25 per day and at least 10 million Cambodians are in need of decent housing. Here are four facts about housing and homelessness in Cambodia.

4 Facts About Housing and Homelessness in Cambodia

  1. As aforementioned, 10 million Cambodians lack adequate housing. Additionally, about two million houses need necessary improvement to meet the minimum quality standards.
  2. Cambodia has a large urban population. Around 21.2% of Cambodians live in cities. In the country’s capital, Phnom Penh, one in five people live in the slums and lack access to basic services, according to Habitat for Humanity.
  3. About 80% of Cambodia’s population lives in rural housing. Traditional Khmer rural homes are wooden and built on large stilts raised above the ground. This way, the water from the monsoons that frequent the country does not reach and damage the main part of the houses.
  4. A survey by the Cambodian National Institute of Statistics, Columbia University in New York and Friends International cited in a 2017 VOA News story found that in Cambodia’s seven biggest urban centers about 2,700 young people were homeless with the numbers climbing as a result of “higher unemployment and migration to the cities from rural [areas].”

Habitat for Humanity

Since 2003, Habitat for Humanity has been working in Cambodia to “break the cycle of poverty through safe, durable, affordable housing solutions.” To date, Habitat Cambodia has helped provide more than 22,000 families with shelter. The organization works with both international and local NGOs, local and national authorities and other groups to tackle the homelessness situation in Cambodia.

The organization’s innovative approach includes market development, advocacy for secure land tenure and collaborating with other NGOs and community-based organizations in order to create housing solutions for the poor in Cambodia. Habitat for Humanity has also been working in three of Cambodia’s biggest cities — Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang — to provide housing solutions and help secure land for the homeless and other in-need groups including those living with disabilities, orphans and those affected by HIV/AIDS. In 2018, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) reported that these efforts reached 73,000 children and adults.

In 2014, Cambodia adopted a National Housing Policy to improve access to housing. However, according to Habitat for Humanity, this policy has not yet reached low-income and middle-income families. To combat this, Habitat Cambodia is advocating for “effective implementation of the National Housing Policy” in order to provide access to housing for the growing number of Cambodians in urban areas.

 Though housing shortages and homelessness in Cambodia are still serious and ongoing issues, organizations like Habitat for Humanity are helping combat the issue — one habitat at a time.

– Emma Benson
Photo: Flickr