Cambodia has experienced significant economic progress in recent years. Since 2011, the country has seen average annual growth of 7 per cent in its Gross Domestic Product and is transitioning into middle-income status.
Economic growth has reduced poverty in Cambodia from 47.2 per cent in 2007 to 18.6 per cent in 2012 (World Bank, 2014). However, it has brought with it a host of economic and social disparities and inequities. About 3 million of the total population of 15.3 million Cambodians continue to live in poverty, while another 8.1 million live just above the poverty line; 90 per cent of these people live in rural areas.
Growing up amid inequities can deprive children of a fair chance in life, and in the worst cases, can threaten their very survival. Poverty is not just about measuring income; children from poor households often miss out on basic social services because they cannot go to school, visit a doctor or receive an adequate diet, all of which have huge impacts on their survival and development.
Social protection ensures access to social services for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable families, including those in remote areas, those from ethnic minorities, and those affected by disability. However, social protection in Cambodia has limited coverage and is highly fragmented, with multiple small programmes often being driven by external development partners.
Through the Social Inclusion and Governance programme, UNICEF works to prioritize children’s rights and equity in social sector policies, plans, budgets and public discussions to improve all children’s access to quality social services. UNICEF also works to remove obstacles that prevent children from reaching social services by supporting key government reforms that promote equitable social service delivery: Public Finance Management Reform, Decentralization and Deconcentration Reform, and Public Administrative Reform.
What is social protection?
Social protection is a set of public actions designed to increase access to social services such as health, education and nutrition, by the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people. It is usually given in the form of income or in-kind support and ensures a minimum standard of living for those in need. UNICEF’s work to support national social protection system building does not explicitly target children alone, but is implemented with a focus on the best interests of the child.For more information about UNICEF’s Social Inclusion and Governance programme, download this file