Phnom Penh, 31 August 2020 – A report launched today by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) examines the effectiveness and costs of providing social protection for all poor households in Cambodia – an approach referred to as a Social Protection Floor. The authors find by spending less than 1 ½ % of GDP, Cambodia can make a bold step towards ending extreme poverty in the Kingdom, taking the number of poor people below 3% of the population.
The report also looks at various routes for delivering this – by allocating cash transfers alone, or through a mix of cash and asset transfers (so-called graduation-based programmes), and how transfers might be allocated to different poor families. It concludes in favour of a system that provides social assistance to all poor households, while allowing for greater help for those with children, aging members, and members with disabilities. On the whole, mixed cash and asset schemes also perform better.
Although, the supporting analysis was completed before the COVID-19 crisis took hold, this topic has a special relevance for the challenges Cambodia now faces. And in many respects the report’s proposals mirror the scheme the Royal Government has adopted to combat COVID-19’s impacts on the vulnerable (which involves paying transfers to all IDPoor households).
Nick Beresford, UNDP Cambodia’s Resident Representative commented: “This report shows that a system of support based on a social protection floor is effective for reducing poverty to below 3% of the population, and in normal times is entirely affordable for Cambodia.”
UNDP has supported the roll-out of the Royal Government’s COVID-19 IDPoor cash transfer scheme, and later this year will be trialing (with government counterparts’ endorsement) a mixed asset and cash (a graduation-based) scheme covering around 3,000 households.