After many decades of economic struggle and vicious civil strife Cambodia is slowly working toward becoming an advanced society with a robust economy.

Cambodia is a colorful and richly cultural society that has contributed pricelessly to the Asian and Buddhist realms, among countless others. Despite its encouraging contemporary development, there are still drastically high levels of malnutrition in Cambodia, as in many developing countries.

For those unfamiliar with this nation, some descriptive information may help to place it in perspective. Cambodia is referred to as the Kingdom of Cambodia. It is in Southeast Asia and is located in the southern area of the Indochina Peninsula. It is surrounded by Thailand to the northeast, Laos to the northwest and is largely bordered by Vietnam in its southern and eastern regions. Its national language is Khmer, and its officially recognized religion is Theravada Buddhism.

Cambodia’s incremental progress is and has been significant. Since 2004, its poverty rate has decreased by 5 percent every consecutive three years. Additionally, the population statistics on most “key health indicators” have improved dramatically over recent decades. At the same time, however, sizeable segments of its population still suffer from gross malnutrition, and the population’s average life expectancy is 58 and 64 years for men and women, respectively.

According to the United Nations World Food Programme data, 18 percent of the population lives under the food poverty line. The child population is alarmingly more afflicted; about 40 percent of Cambodian children suffer from chronic malnutrition and stunted development consequent of nutrient deficiency. This is a troublingly high statistic that begs attention and effective, long-term solutions.

Though Cambodia primarily exports high volumes of paddy rice produced at a surplus, the U.N. reports that extremely high poverty rates and inaccessibility to nutritious food are responsible for this widespread malnutrition. Natural disasters such as droughts and occasional flooding additionally contribute unfavorable and sometimes devastating circumstances for residences and agricultural production.

The population’s alarmingly high malnutrition rates are currently being addressed by the U.N., which provides assistance, local food education and attempts to formulate and implement more long-term food security and production infrastructure.

– Ariel Swett

Sources: WFP, UNICEF
Photo: Flickr