Phnom Penh, 02 June 2021 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) hosted a virtual high-level, regional discussion on key lessons learned from Cambodia’s COVID-19 social protection measures to support the poor and revitalize the economy.
Since July 2020, the Royal Government of Cambodia has introduced seven stimulus measures to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures include cash transfers to about 700,000 of the poorest and most vulnerable households, hit the hardest by the pandemic.
“This is the first time in its history that Cambodia has implemented a social protection scheme of this magnitude. It is based on the principles of equity, equality, and efficiency. Working in partnership with relevant development partners, the Royal Government of Cambodia has effectively used our reserved budget to timely assist those in need, especially the poor and vulnerable. Additional social protection measures are being introduced to support affected households in lockdown areas,” said H.E. Samheng Boros, Secretary of State, Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation.
UNDP predicted an economic contraction of -4.1% and that poverty could rise substantially, perhaps even doubling to 17.6% in 2020, had there not been a stimulus intervention. Due at least in part to these timely and responsive social protection measures, however, the impact on poverty is projected to be less severe and economic growth to recover to around 4% in 2021.
Greater challenges have arisen in the response to the wave of COVID that began at the end of January. Strict lockdowns and the creation of “red zones” implemented to stem COVID transmission caused challenges for some vulnerable groups. The need now is to ensure that we immediately address these issues and ensure that future restrictions on movement combine protections of the rights and well-being of those most at risk, with effective measures to contain the pandemic. UNDP and other development partners are supporting the Government to find solutions.
“Social protection is foremost an investment in people,” said Kanni Wignaraja, UNDP Regional Director for the Bureau of Asia and the Pacific. “As we contend with new COVID-19 variants, we need to find ways to both limit transmission and better protect the most vulnerable. Social protection is essential for ensuring the wellbeing of those most at risk as well as helping Cambodia successfully navigate the transition to upper middle-income country status.”
UNDP has played a vital role in this journey by working with the RGC and other development partners to build a stronger social protection system for the country, so it is more resilient to shocks such as COVID-19. With support from the government of Australia, UNDP supplied Cambodia’s Ministry of Planning with 1,700 tablet computers, software, as well as training for field officers that allowed them to quickly register families that had been hit hard by the economic slowdown.
For media inquiries, please contact Im Samruol, UNDP Cambodia’s Head of Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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