The consequences of poverty can last a lifetime. Rarely does a child get a second chance at an education or a healthy start in life. In Cambodia, 40 per cent of the population lives just above the poverty line, while 16 per cent of children live below it and are highly vulnerable. Child poverty does not just threaten individual children–without adequate intervention poverty is likely to be passed on to future generations, entrenching inequality in society.
Cambodia has experienced significant economic progress over the past two decades. In 2016, the country attained lower-middle-income status and is ranked the sixth fastest growing economy in the world.
Yet these gains are fragile. While the country achieved its goal of halving poverty in 2009, the vast majority of families who escaped poverty are now living just above the poverty line. Some 4.5 million of Cambodia’s approximately 16 million people remain near poor, meaning they are vulnerable to falling back into poverty when exposed to economic and other external shocks, like a poor harvest or a sick parent. Additionally, Cambodia’s economic gains in recent years have not been distributed equally; over 79 per cent of poor children live in rural and hard-to-reach areas.
Poverty is not just about measuring income. It is a multi-dimensional phenomenon that can be measured in many ways, such as poor health, poor education, poor protection and poor participation. Children from poor households often miss out on basic social services because they cannot go to school, visit a doctor or receive proper nutrition, all of which have a huge impact on their survival and development.