15 December 2022

The COVID-19 Socio-Economic Impact Assessment

Cambodia has responded in an exemplary way to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the major surge in infections in February 2021 required enforcement of restrictions. Business activities and the income of households were affected by business closures, lower demand for services, and internal and international travel restrictions. These unprecedented challenges had significant impacts on the socio-economic status of Cambodians from multiple directions,  including income and employment anddecreased access to commodities and social services, with especially vulnerable groups running out of resources to use and possible coping strategies to employ. The impact was most noticeable in household economies, as the majority experienced reductions in their income and loss of employment. The IDPoor households were the least resilient to negative impacts on household income. While taking out new loans was a frequently used coping mechanism for households to meet their daily needs, sales of land were seldom reported. Notable deteriorations in household access to nutritious food were registered during the peaks of the pandemic, including in October 2020 whenlarge-scale flooding occurred alongside the pandemic, as well as in July 2021 when strict movement restrictions and lockdowns were introduced. The nutritional quality of diets consumed by households has yet to recover to its pre-pandemic status.• Challenges in accessing nutritional food during the pandemic were particularly pronounced for women and children, with only 61% of women consuming diets meeting the requirements for a Minimum Dietary Diversity, and only 31% of children consuming a Minimum Acceptable Diet. Adoption of negative coping strategies by households to meet their food needs remains widespread and considerably higher than before COVID-19 – this is an indication of persistent pressure on household food security despite the incipient economic recovery. As the closure of schools extended until the end of 2021, children were more reliant on online materials to continue their studies. A concerningly high proportion of children aged 12 to 18 years old were engaged in work, both in  family  businesses  and  elsewhere.  Meanwhile,  caregivers  were  able to offer only limited support for their children’s learning. The  strict  measures  applied  from  February  2021  as  a  reaction  to the surge in infections impacted the access to essential health services for pregnant women and negatively impacted adult and child wellbeing. This Covid-19 Socio-Economic Impact Assessment report explores the effects of the pandemic on household economies, children’s wellbeing, and food security and nutrition within between August 2020 and December 2021. UNICEF, WFP and ADB, through a joint effort and partnership,  developed this longitudinal study by following a sample of more than 2,000 households through 9 rounds of data collection. The implementation of the study continued in 2022, with an objective to monitor the longer-term impacts of COVID-19 on household recovery and the impacts of the global price crisis and inflation in Cambodia.