Graduation Based Social Protection

“The National Social Protection Policy Framework 2016-2025 has adopted approaches to improve income generating capacity and sustainable livelihoods of the poor, and the graduation programmes are in line with that. The National Social Protection Council has recognized graduation approaches as a strategic tool to graduate rural poor households out of poverty and safeguard their prosperous livelihoods. The graduation programmes transfer assets in addition to cash while building capacity of poor households”.

H.E Chan Narith, Under-Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and Secretary General of the National Social Protection Council. The first board meeting of the Graduation-Based Social Protection Project, 23 July 2023, UNDP

Target Achievements:

(1)      An empirical test of the impacts on poverty reduction and economic wide effects accruing from asset against cash transfers is successfully conducted. The first round involves 2,400 poor households in two localities which are assigned into three groups (graduation, cash and no intervention). The second round  involves 800 households as a follow-on graduation validation.

(2)      Practical deliverability of these programmes through the project’s direct implementation and/or government transfer models is tested. An operational case study, shortcomings, challenges, and lessons learned are documented and disseminated.

A Quick Glance:

Cambodia has seen exceptional economic growth and poverty reduction over the past two decades. However, although millions have been lifted out of poverty, an increasingly hard to reach group of extreme poor remain. Due to their unique circumstances, economic growth alone is unlikely to succeed in lifting these households out of poverty. The eradication of poverty and hunger, and the ability to reach the targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2, will as a result be delayed.  A further challenge is the large population living just above the poverty line. Given the near absence of formal mechanisms of social protection, these people are highly vulnerable to income shocks. The National Social Protection Policy Framework is the Government’s core social protection strategy, which seeks to adopt multi-dimensional responses to address these dual challenges.

Since 2017, UNDP has been researching and promoting the concept of graduation-based social protection. These are programmes that transfer assets to the poor as opposed to cash alone, enabling households to boost their own incomes and secure a lasting exit from poverty. Furthermore, they are important contributors to the establishment of an effective social protection floor.

The overarching goal of the project is to inform national policy choices, in the context of the National Social Protection Policy Framework implementation, and specifically to provide a case for the adoption of graduation-based approaches across Cambodia.

Project Focus:

The project has four principal components:

(1)      The set-up and roll-out of a graduation-based social protection pilot, including the preparation of analytical instruments and institutional arrangements;

(2)      Delivery of pilot graduation packages to several thousand households in two rural and remotely located districts;

(3)      Delivery of follow-up asset packages to a second group of households informed by the initial pilot; and

(4)      Review and reporting of the pilot results, including analysis and the building of a policy case for graduation-based models of social protection.

Implementing Partners:

National Social Protection Council/Ministry of Economy and Finance, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Planning, and Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation

Other Project Partners:

World Vision International, Cambodian Disabled People’s Organization

Total Budget:

Total: USD 2,430,000

UNDP: USD 800,000

Russian Federation: USD 1,000,000

Funds to be mobilized: USD 630,000

The project is co-funded by Russian Federation for USD1 million and UNDP for USD 0.8 million.

Target Area:

Kompongchnang, Preah Vihear and Battambong Provinces


Ms. Mao Meas

Program Analyst

UNDP Cambodia

Tel: 012 910 006


Mr. Reathmana Leang

Project Management Specialist

UNDP Cambodia

Tel: 012 690 402




Project start date:

September 2019

Estimated end date:

December 2023

Focus area:

  • accelerate structural transformations
  • Project office:

    UNDP in Cambodia

    Implementing partner:

    United Nations Development Programme

    Full project information  

    Funding Support by

    Donor name

  • United Nations Development Pro
  • Government Of Russian Federation
  • Amount contributed


    Delivery in previous fiscal year

    2021 $40,784

    2020 $88,595

    2019 $9,872

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