Poverty and NGOs in Cambodia
In Cambodia, the population living under the national poverty line of US$0.93 per capita per day in 2009 (Ministry of Planning, 2013) is defined as the poor. In 2009, about 22.9%  of Cambodians live below the national poverty line indicating that at least one in five Cambodians are still living in deprivation. They lack sufficient resources to meet their daily needs. Cambodia’s long history of violence and conflict, both internally and externally has contributed to the current poverty situation. Most notably in Cambodia’s troubled history was the Khmer Rouge regime and a period of occupation under Vietnam’s communist leaders from 1980 to 1989. As such, it was not until recently did the political situation in Cambodia settle down. Since then, its economy has been growing from strength to strength, driven by the expansion in the garment, construction, tourism and agricultural sector.
However, a good proportion of Cambodians that are living in rural areas are not experiencing the prosperity especially in the plateau and mountainous region. The Asian Development Bank once estimated in 2012 that 18.9% of Cambodians lived below the national poverty line. In 2013, Cambodia’s population grew to 14.68 million. As of April 2016, the figures dropped to 13.5% despite the population increasing to 15.41 million people in 2015. Many small-scale farmers practice agriculture at subsistence level, using traditional methods that are low in productivity. Two thirds of the country's 1.6 million rural households face seasonal food shortages each year. Rice alone accounts for as much as 30 per cent of household expenditures.
The rural citizens are the people who have the least access to education, health and other public services because of poor infrastructures and lack of government investment in areas where it matters most. In 2007, education expenditure only accounted for 1.6% of Cambodia’s total GDP putting it amongst the ranks of other poorer nations. As a result, only 78% of adults above the age of 15 are literate.
Rampant corruption amongst the political elites and government bureaucrats is a key factor that has been hindering improvements in poverty levels. In 2010, Cambodia was ranked 154th out of 178 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) with a given score of 2.1 out of 10 indicating just how perverse corruption is at every level of the Cambodian society. Yet, this is already considered an improvement from previous years. This is a deterrent for foreign investments and foreign aids that are very much needed for Cambodia to sustain its economic growth and alleviate the poor out of poverty.
Even though growth in GDP per capita in the past decade has led to decreasing poverty rates, it is not happening at a rate that equals to economic growth rates. Additionally, the economic growth is increasing the gap in inequality between the very poor and the rich.
The United Nations in 2016 hailed Cambodia for its accomplishments in meeting its Millennium Development Goals targets for 2015. The UN in its report called Cambodia an 'early achiever and praised the County for performing 'particularly well' on poverty alleviation.
- World Bank Cambodia Data (2007). Poverty headcount ratio at national poverty line (% of population). Retrieved 24, February 2011, from http://data.worldbank.org/country/cambodia
- Asian Development Bank. (2014, December). Cambodia: Country Poverty Analysis 2014. Retrieved 21, November 2016, from https://www.adb.org/documents/cambodia-country-poverty-analysis-2014
- Asian Development Bank. (n.d.). Poverty in Cambodia. Retrieved 21 November 2016 from https://www.adb.org/countries/cambodia/poverty
- Transparency International. (2010, October). Corruption Perception Index 2010 Results. Retrieved 24, February 2011, from http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/results
- Central Intelligence Agency (2011, February 11). The World Factbook, Cambodia. Retrieved 25, February 2011, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cb.html
- Rural poverty in Cambodia. (n.d.). Rural Poverty In Cambodia. Retrieved 27, February 2011, from http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/web/guest/country/home/tags/cambodia
- Maierbrugger, Arno. "Cambodia's poverty rate dropping rapidly | Investvine". Investvine. Retrieved 2016-02-25.