Our Perspective

Creating an inclusive and equitable society for persons with disabilities

02 Dec 2016

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  According to the 2014 Cambodia Demographic Health Survey, 9.5% of the Cambodian population experiences at least some degree of difficulty in performing basic functions while 2.1% experience major difficulties and cannot perform basic functions. This figure is consistent with the World Health Organization’s World Report on Disability (15% of the world’s population are living with some form of disability with prevalence rates predicted to increase due to aging populations and increases in non-communicable disease). Persons with disabilities face multiple challenges such as inequality and discrimination in access to education, healthcare services, social and economic social justice, political participation as well as being particularly vulnerable to violence and other violations.  With a predominantly Buddhist population, it is often thought that disability is seen as a result of a sin in a past life. There are however, other cultural norms that impact on people’s perception of disability. Cambodian women with disabilities experience multiple disadvantages resulting from the interplay between gender, disability and poverty. They experience almost five times higher rates of emotional, physical and sexual violence by household members (other than partners). They are considered less valuable and more burdensome within the household and 2.5 times more likely to require permission from  Read More

Escaping the 'Middle Income Trap' by Investing in Human Capital

01 Aug 2016

image (Photo: ©FaniLlaurado/UNDP Cambodia)

Investing in people has essential and direct implications on meeting development challenges now and in the future. In the absence of people’s ability and adaptability, physical assets such as land, capital and other endowments, are not enough to drive economic growth and sustain livelihoods. Investment in education, skills and health, perhaps defined as spending on human capital, is important for a country's sustainable and inclusive growth as it improves citizens’ participation in socio-economic activities. Well-educated and trained citizens would then act capably in their individual, parental, community, and work lives. Cambodia’s policymakers have increasingly recognized the importance of human capital development for inclusive growth and building resilience. The proof is in the recent education reform drive and the doubling of education and health expenditures as a percent of total government expenditure in the current National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP, 2014-2018). Currently, by looking at the education participation ratios, in Cambodia human capital endowment is extremely low justifying government interventions. The Cambodian Government’s commitments in education and health development is yet to be seen in terms of inputs (financial and human) and results by the end of the current national plan. Education, particularly basic nine years’ schooling plays a key role in  Read More

Development finance: how much does Cambodia need and where will it come from?

17 Jul 2016

image Meeting between UNDP and Development Partners (Photo: ©UNDP Cambodia)

Cambodia has been one of the world’s fastest growing economies over the last decade. This growth has been translated into reduced levels of poverty and impressive progress towards reaching the Cambodia Millennium Development Goals (CMDGs). Average annual incomes now exceed US$1,000 per person. CMDG Goal 1: The number of people living in poverty has fallen from 55% in 1990 to 18% in 2013 as seen in the attached Graph 1 (Source: World Bank).  The World Bank has recently upgraded Cambodia’s economic status to Lower-Middle Income group. How then, will the transition affect its access to development finance, particularly as Official Development Assistance (ODA) declines? As Cambodia is presented with new opportunities from regional integration and prepares to take on new challenges, such as the implementation of its new Industrial Development Policy, where will financing come from? To find the answers, it is important to reflect on the wider development landscape over the last decade. For one, many other developing countries have moved into the Middle Income group over the last 20 years and are now expected to mobilize more of their own domestic resources to support socio-economic development and improve public service delivery. Cambodia's domestic revenue has now reached 18% of  Read More

Leaving UNDP in Cambodia on the right pathway to relevance

06 Jul 2016

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As it often happens in our work, we familiarize ourselves with relevant data on the country we are going to work in when we are assigned to a new UNDP office operations. Amidst the impressive accounts I read about Cambodia prior to my arrival, I only came to appreciate the profound economic and social transformation the country had gone through once I arrived. Economic performance had positive statistics telling of an average GDP growth of 8.2% between 2000-2010, and 7.4% from 2011-2013.  Cambodia is home to people where 65% of its population are under the age of 30 and will remain so until 2038, creating an unprecedented demographic dividend. Given these premises, I was eager to see for myself the world’s 15th fastest growing economy perform during the period of my stay. Most importantly, I was interested to see how UNDP would contribute to make this growth more inclusive and more conducive to human development. As we know, while poverty may decline in absolute terms, it is seriously challenged by a wide range of vulnerability threats. These can come through shocks embedded within a narrowly based economic structure, through climate change or climate-induced calamities, and within an unfinished agenda over the  Read More

Water: Fewer Drops for Increasing Different Demands

22 Apr 2016

image (Photo: ©UNDP Cambodia)

In the Royal Government of Cambodia’s ‘Policy Document on Promotion of Paddy Rice Production and Export of Milled Rice,’ rice is referred to as “white gold.” This is due to the role of rice in economic growth, poverty reduction and improved livelihoods of the Cambodian people. But the term ‘gold’ should also be used for another important resource in Cambodia — water. Water is central to agricultural production including paddy rice, through the expansion of irrigation. Water also plays a key role in the energy sector in Cambodia through hydropower development. Therefore, it is fairly sensible to regard water as “liquid gold.” Currently, over six million people in Cambodia do not have access to grid-quality electricity. The government aims to provide electricity to all villages by 2020 and to 70% of all rural households by 2030. To realize this goal, Cambodia must diversify its energy sources to include renewable energy. Hydropower is a cornerstone of Cambodia’s renewable energy development. Being a water-rich nation, Cambodia is blessed with hydropower potential, which if fully exploited, this naturally extracted power could fulfill the electricity demand of its population. However, by making energy development a top priority, investments in building hydropower dams are seen to  Read More

Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality! Voices from the field: investing in women in farming

08 Mar 2016

image (Photo: ©UNDP Cambodia)

Today, March 8, the world  observes the International Women’s Day under a global theme, Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality. Planet 50-50 is a time-bound goal in which women and girls have equal rights and opportunities by 2030 At the 2015 ‘Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen made a national commitment to end gender inequalities by increasing investments in gender equality, ensuring the protection of women’s rights and their equal participation in decision making, strengthening accountability mechanisms for gender equality, and promoting women’s involvement in the economy. What does this commitment mean for women from family farms? Family farm remains a core agricultural production unit in Cambodia which has about 82 per cent of its population living in rural areas and close to 71 per cent engaging in agriculture for their livelihoods. While there are almost equal numbers of men and women in the agricultural population, the national data records more men taking up the leading position in agricultural households and farming. According to a report by the National Institute of Statistic that bases its analysis on the latest General Population Census, men lead 80 per cent of agricultural  Read More

Supporting inclusive and sustainable economic growth in Cambodia

27 Jan 2016

image Photo: ©ILO Better Factory

Cambodia has made great progress in economic growth, poverty reduction and human development and is poised to become a Middle Income Country (MIC) soon, and aims to achieve Upper MIC status by 2030. The ongoing challenge is that a significant proportion of the population remains vulnerable to slipping back to poverty. While labor participation is high and the employment-to-population rate in Cambodia is among the highest in the world, if this vulnerability is to be addressed, there is a need to expand opportunities for decent employment particularly for women. To these ends, there are a range of challenges that UNDP is collaborating with Royal Government of Cambodia to address. One challenge is improving incentives to invest in human capital. Completion rates at lower secondary education are too low if Cambodia is to take advantage of its demographic dividend. Households spend far too little on education given that private returns, while not negative, have steadily been declining. Moreover, because of the Khmer Rouge period, Cambodia does not have the critical mass of middle-aged parents that can finance the education of the youth. While the current reforms in the education sector are vitally necessary, these must be complemented by larger economic reforms. The  Read More

2015 Winners of UN Climate Solutions Awards Announced

02 Nov 2015

image Projects From Across the Globe to be Honoured at UN Climate Conference in Paris

Sixteen game-changing initiatives from around the world were announced today as winners of a prestigious United Nations climate change award. Winning activities include a seriously cool smartphone that puts social values first and an initiative that is enabling 40 Latin American cities to take concrete climate action. Others include a women-led initiative in Benin that uses solar energy to empower women farmers and an internal carbon fee that holds the business units of one of the world’s most famous software and ICT companies financially responsible for reducing their carbon emissions. The Momentum for Change initiative is spearheaded by the UN Climate Change secretariat to shine a light on some of the most innovative, scalable and replicable examples of what people are doing to address climate change. Today’s announcement is part of wider efforts to mobilize action and ambition as national governments work toward adopting a new universal climate agreement in Paris. “With less than 35 days to go until the climate change conference in Paris, the Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities are further compelling proof that climate action is building worldwide and in countries, communities, companies and cities everywhere,” UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said. “By showcasing these remarkable solutions and the people behind them we can strengthen efforts toward that new agreement, accelerate  Read More

10 ways youth can make an impact

12 Aug 2015

image A group of Cambodian youth act in UNDP Cambodia's Loy9 TV dramas that were aimed at empowering youths to be active in civic participation. The initiative was funded by UNDP Cambodia and Sweden in Cambodia, and produced by BBC Media Action (Photo: BBC Media Action)

“We are addressing youth today, because youth have placed themselves on the top of the agenda.”–Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon Youth activism and engagement can bring about important social changes that are sometimes left behind. You don’t have to wait to be an adult to be an active member of your community. Your opinion matters and it should be heard. Here’s a list of ideas of how you can participate locally and globally: 1. Know your rights: You might not be able to vote yet, but all children and youth hold national and international rights. These rights are only of use to you if you are informed about them, so read up! 2. Learn about local issues: Is a roadblock affecting your commute to school? Are the new taxes affecting your family’s livelihood? Whatever the case, learning the issue will help in creating solutions that will have an impact on you. 3. Speak out: Speaking your mind online (through social media), and/or offline (at local meetings and gatherings) helps you assert yourself and your interests. Also, you never know who might be listening. Think before posting. Social media has a long memory and things can never truly be  Read More

Financing for development in Asia and the Pacific

09 Jul 2015

image Construction workers are building an apartment in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo: © Chansok Lay/UNDP Cambodia.

The world eagerly awaits the outcome of the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development this month which will be a real test of the international community’s commitment to sustainable development. In this context, it is worth underscoring that the Asia-Pacific region – a dynamic and vibrant market - has already been at the forefront of deliberations on financing for development and has endorsed initiatives that will unleash its resource potential.  With substantial scope for tapping domestic resource mobilization and infrastructure financing, the region will build on the development achievements secured in past years which have simultaneously driven global growth. Our region has made impressive gains in reducing the incidence of extreme poverty from a staggering 53 percent in 1990 to 12 percent today, illustrating its resilience to the  2008 financial crisis given that most countries strengthened their financial systems regulatory frameworks in the aftermath of Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998. Trade growth has remained steady, with the level of intra-regional trade second only to that of the European Union. The key to financial stability and people’s well-being will be their improved access to financing for development, which involves broadening coverage of financing to all segments of society, including the unbanked  Read More