Our Perspective

Why fisher folk are planting trees

17 Aug 2017

image Mr. SAO Theang, Head of of Chumpu Khmao Community Fishery, Preynub District

Cambodia’s new Environmental Codes and power of collaborative management Sao Theang steers his boat through the waters in and around the mangrove forest of Preynub, close to Sihanouk Ville on the Cambodian coast. It’s beautiful scenery and Theang tells us he hopes tourist numbers will start to pick up. As the Head of Chumpu Khmao Community Fishery, he and his community already make a good living from shrimp, fish, mussels and other plentiful aquaculture. But now the community is actively engaged in growing and protecting their own mangrove trees. Why are these fisher folk planting trees? Using tidal water flows and square blocks of natural mangrove, maximizes the yields of valuable shrimp, fish and mussels. The mangrove forest adds to the beauty of the area: a plus for tourism.  The community works closely with the Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery, Ministry of Environment and the local Commune, fostering a thriving business for the community, and effective environmental protection of a valuable forest. This week, the Ministry of Environment continued consultations on new legislation: the Environmental Codes. In a sign of how seriously these codes are being taken by Government, the consultations were led by the Minister, H.E.  Read More

Will dreams come true?

15 Jul 2017

image The rural family of Ms. Prak Thavy whose two older daughters are unemployed and her younger daughter, age 13, is a student who has talent for math and Khmer and wishes to become a teacher in the future.

When young people transition into the world of work, it’s a critical time—for young people themselves, their families, and Cambodian society. Cambodia’s economic success means young people have more hope and better prospects for the future. But what does it take for young people to succeed at work and in life? I’ve researched this and other questions about young people over the past several years. A recent survey on school-to-work transition by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) gives a curious picture of youth employment. About three-fourths of young people aged 15 to 29 are employed. However, many of them are in vulnerable or poor-quality employment, are under-qualified for their jobs, or work excessively long hours. In addition, many young Cambodians have to enter the labour market early and don’t have the necessary skills and education. Obviously, young people from wealthier families often end up with better incomes and job conditions. About 90 per cent of youth say they are “satisfied” with their current job, but at the same time half of them say they intend to change for a better paid job. Cambodians see education as a major means to securing upward social mobility. Educational opportunities, from primary to post-secondary level,  Read More

Who will finance development in Cambodia?

24 May 2017

image UNDP's staff holding notes to demonstrate the linkage among the leadership, policies, UNDP's support and development.

The Government is well positioned to lead and finance the next stage of national development. Managing partnerships with the private sector will be of increased importance while Cambodia’s development partners and NGOs will need to adapt to new roles in support of the SDGs. Last week’s World Economic Forum on ASEAN highlighted the pressing need to accelerate infrastructure development and to improve connectivity in the region. Opening the meeting, Prime Minister Hun Sen emphasized the importance of investments, from within and outside the country, in boosting competitiveness and moving Cambodia’s fledgling industry up the value chain. Elsewhere in the meeting, participants noted the need to invest in education and skills as well as to promote the transfer of technology. All of this will cost money. In addition, the Government has shown a strong commitment to continuing its pro-growth policies and to localising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Strengthening Government institutions and capacities to improve public services and deliver on its commitments to the SDGs will come with a hefty price tag. So where will the money come from? Recent work completed by UNDP in partnership with the Royal Government’s Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) - called the Development Finance  Read More

Message from the Country Director

05 May 2017

image Country Director Nick Beresford with colleagues and community members were planting mangrove trees

We are going through a period of huge global transformations, a mass emergence from poverty and towards wealth, the rise of Asia, economically and politically. And here in Cambodia we are right in the heart of it. We have seen in the last 15 years a tripling of the size of the economy and poverty being cut more than half. These are remarkable achievements. As a newly minted Lower Middle Income Country, the challenge is now to join the emergence of a new global middle class. The size of the “global middle class” is expected to increase from 1.8 billion in 2009 to 3.2 billion by 2020 and 4.9 billion by 2030. The bulk of this growth will come from Asia: by 2030, two-thirds of the global middle class – the big engine of growth, technology and political power – will be in Asia. The challenge now is how to make that transformation a sustainable one.  To de-risk it and ensure those gains are stable.  In short, can we want a globally shared prosperity – an end to poverty – but without destroying our planet in the process? So what is our role in UNDP? We have done some great work  Read More

My volunteer experience with UNDP Cambodia opened a lot of doors for me

29 Mar 2017

image Maeve Anne Halpin (center), UN Youth Volunteer with UNV Project ‘Volunteer Caravan’ in Cambodia. As part of the project, Maeve travelled throughout Cambodia to meet with volunteers and their organizations. (UNV, Cambodia)

"Volunteering took me out of my comfort zone.” Maeve Anne Halpin, UN Youth Volunteer in Communication, Outreach and Youth served with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Her assignment was funded by Irish Aid. I had never been to South East Asia nor had I ever worked in the UN System – it was a big change for me, professionally and personally. Volunteering abroad took me out of my comfort zone. It was nerve-wracking the first couple of weeks, navigating the busy streets, meeting new faces every day, and attempting to communicate in Khmer, all while starting a new job in an unfamiliar setting. UN Volunteers are highly regarded in the United Nations system. Our assignment has a lot of responsibility. We are encouraged to take part in and organize activities related to our assignments, to motivate our UN colleagues to volunteer and to create a sense of community. For a UNV project called ‘Volunteer Caravan’, I travelled throughout Cambodia to meet with volunteers and their organizations. We discussed issues affecting volunteers, various projects the volunteers worked on, and the impact of their work. My role involved a steep learning curve as I was thrown in at  Read More

Financing Cambodia's Gender Equality Goals

07 Mar 2017

image A farmer woman in Prey Veng harvesting her rice crop

Today, as we observe the International Women’s Day, let us look back at how far we have come and look forward to how we can overcome the remaining challenges together. Cambodia has undeniably made good progresses toward its gender equality goals in several areas, in addition to the improvement of legal framework, policies, and national plans to protect and improve the status of women and girls. For instance, girls’ access to education has improved, as reflected in the sharp contrast between female youth’s literacy rate and that of the old generations born before the Khmer Rouge regime. The number of female members of parliament and female local councillors has also increased, and Cambodian women’s participation rate in the workforce is among the highest in Asia. These progresses have been made despite limited funding from both state and foreign development assistance, that has always been low compared to other sectors. For instance, an analysis of the 2014 Official Development Assistance (ODA) undertaken by UNDP, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) and the Council for Development of Cambodia (CDC) reveals that out of a total ODA resource envelope of US$1.5 billion disbursed in 2014, projects with gender as a principal sector represented only  Read More

UNDP Awarded the Royal Oder of Sahametrei

10 Jan 2017

image (Photo: H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin and Nick Beresford, UNDP Cambodia's Country Director ©RathaSoy/UNDPCambodia)

UNDP was awarded the Royal Order of Sahametrei, Tepidin Class (Commander of the Order) from the Royal Government of Cambodia for its major effort to the country’s environmental conservation and protection. The Order was founded by the late King Norodom Sihanouk in 1948. It is the highest ranking medal conferred to foreigners for their distinguished service to Cambodia. Cambodia is undergoing impressive and rapid development; environmental protection and natural resource management have become indispensable for sustainable development. Over the past two decades, UNDP has been actively engaging with Cambodia’s government agencies, development partners, and civil society organizations in building institutional and legal framework for environment, climate change response, and biodiversity conservation (read more details here). During the 1990s, UNDP was one of the first few partners supporting climate change actions. It began with the support to Climate Change Office/Ministry of Environment (currently known as Department of Climate Change/National Council for Sustainable Development) in building technical capacity and raising awareness of climate change. Since then, UNDP has been working with MoE through valuable financial support from development partners such as the EU and Embassy of Sweden in response to climate change. One of the significant achievements was the formulation of the national  Read More

Creating an inclusive and equitable society for persons with disabilities

02 Dec 2016

image Performance of Epic group during the National Workshop on reflection of National Disability Strategic Plan

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 a  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