Social Protection


Research and analysis

Policy advocacy

Building social protection skills


Building social protection skills

Strengthening national capacity
© UNICEF Cambodia/Nicolas Axelrod

The recent global financial crisis has had a significant impact on the real economy in Cambodia. The impact of any such crisis is likely to be most severe for the poor and vulnerable, who lack the means to cope with risks as a result of persistent poverty. As such these groups are usually the first to suffer through loss of jobs and income and a resulting deterioration in standards of living. Cambodia currently lacks a social protection system to help mitigate these negative effects as well as helping to ease some of the other persistent challenges that the country faces.

In response to the effects of the recent series of crises on employment, income and health outcomes, and recognising the need for long-term and sustainable capacity to respond to and prevent damage to socio-economic security caused by the crises, the government embarked on the development of a national social protection strategy. The strategy aims to put in place a set of measures to address poverty and vulnerability that will establish an affordable, comprehensive and sustainable
system of social protection in Cambodia.

Despite approval of the social protection strategy in 2011, the institutional capacity of the government to further develop, roll out and coordinate the strategy remains weak. There is an immediate need to promote informed discussions and knowledge sharing among key stakeholders, including those from research agencies, NGOs, academia and other civil society groups. UNICEF, in collaboration with other key partners, provides assistance to enhance the quality of policy making by learning from new research initiatives promoting evidence-based policy and programme formulation.

UNICEF supports ongoing efforts to strengthen the national social protection system in Cambodia, advocating for longerterm measures to strengthen the overall system and ensuring that prevention and child-sensitive elements play a major role, given the high levels of child poverty and deprivation.

What we do

  • Support the government to formulate policies and design programmes in support of social protection efforts.
  • Assist the government to develop capacity to secure adequate investments for basic social services and social protection.
  • Support analysis of the child poverty impact of social investments.
  • Continue to support the Social Protection Research Fund to stimulate debate and dialogue to maintain an active social protection research agenda.
  • Support the development and implementation of a social protection communication and knowledge management strategy to promote relevant and effective social protection measures in Cambodia.

Strengthening national capacity
© UNICEF Cambodia/Nicolas Axelrod


The Cambodian Government has paid special attention to social protection as a comprehensive measure to ensure longterm socio-economic development and to respond to crises. With UNICEF support, a child-sensitive approach has been well integrated into the country’s first National Social Protection Strategy and the key social protection packages required to address child poverty and vulnerability. This is reflected in the inclusion of age specific risks and vulnerabilities and a life cycle approach that bridges social protection provision, through transfers and services, at critical junctures in a child’s life to ensure a continuous stream of services to comprehensively address child poverty, deprivation and vulnerability. Early intervention programmes to reduce vulnerabilities are underway, such as a pilot cash transfer programme on maternal health and nutrition for children under two, as well as prioritization of reaching vulnerable groups within the social protection sector, including through the expansion of the Health Equity Fund for poor households.

A system to identify poor households, known as IDPoor, is now being used to determine households who are poor, as well as their level of poverty. The data collected is being used to estimate the comparative poverty levels of villages, communes, districts and provinces. Service providers—government institutions, commune councils and NGOs—are also effectively using this data to target poorer communes or villages, as well as individual households to help lift them out of poverty and protect them from shocks, such as serious illness or crop failure, which may lead them deeper into poverty. IDPoor is now an integral part of the Government’s National Social Protection Strategy 2011-2015.



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