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Cambodia

Cambodia: Can we protect the traditional land of indigenous communities?

Stéphane Guimbert's picture

At the pace of development of Cambodia's economy, the pressure on these indigenous communities has grown quickly.
Last week, I joined a government team traveling to Mondulkiri, a little known province located some 500 km northeast of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This was a long trip not only because of the distance, but also because of the quality of the road during the last couple of hours of the journey (although that will change quickly, as the road is being rehabilitated).

The province is really beautiful, with the road traveling first through a dense jungle and then arriving on more open hilly plateaus. The province has some very nice landscapes, as well as powerful waterfalls such as Boo Sra (see picture). We stayed in the provincial capital, Sen Monorum (which in Khmer means very enjoyable!), at one of the few hotels in the city. The whole province is very sparsely populated, with about two habitants per square kilometer.

Mondulkiri is one of the provinces with the highest proportion of minority groups (in fact "minority groups" are a majority of the population).

Programs offer children in poverty a headstart

Ariel Fiszbein's picture

In the last decade, conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs are probably the key social policy innovation around the world and in the East Asia and Pacific region. The targeted programs offer money to poor households on the condition they make pre-specified investments in the human capital of children. Typically, this involves school enrollment and attendance, and basic preventive health activities such as periodic checkups, growth monitoring, and vaccinations for young children.

Rice is expensive: a blessing or a curse for Cambodia?

Stéphane Guimbert's picture

A rice seller in one of Cambodia's markets. The price of rice, a staple food for Cambodians, has doubled between July 2007 and July 2008.
Last week, I attended a very interesting seminar by the Cambodia Development Research Institute (CDRI). They presented the result of their recent study on the impact of high food prices (which the World Bank and several others financed). I found the results, presented by CDRI’s Chan Sophal, very interesting, showing the complexity of the question.

The simple reaction is that higher price of food is bad for the poor. CDRI is able to confirm some of this by tracking prices (the price of rice doubled between July 2007 and July 2008) and reminding us that food accounts for two thirds of consumption for a poor family. And there will be little substitution effect to other goods (even within food, most of the caloric intake comes from rice, also very difficult to replace–although CDRI shows that Cambodians in part shifted to lower quality rice to make up for the higher price).

Economics of Sanitation

Jaehyang So's picture

Most of us in the development community are aware that proper water and sanitation services are crucial for life and health. Proper sanitation especially can decrease the instances and spread of disease. But in making the case to Ministers of Finance, it is often the economic and financial case that we have to make in order to garner the investments needed to make a difference.

A Water and Sanitation Program report we released last month, called Economic Impact of Sanitation in Indonesia (pdf), makes that case for that country. The report says that the economic costs of poor hygiene and sanitation in Indonesia reached an estimated US$6.3 billion, or 2.3 percent of GDP in 2006.

Cambodia's Relative Peace Brings the Challenges of Growth

Stéphane Guimbert's picture

Workers scale one of the skyscrapers under construction in Cambodia.
Last Sunday, more than 8 millions Cambodians were called to vote. This is already the fourth general elections since the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement. Many – including me before I moved to our Phnom Penh office last summer – still connect Cambodia first to what we learned in history classes. The splendor of the Angkor civilization and the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime probably come on top of the list. And there is some truth to that. Angkor Wat and its neighboring temples remain magnificent. The Khmer Rouge regime has left deep stigma for the people and for the society. The Khmer Rouge tribunal is attracting a lot of international attention as well. Most landmine fields have been cleared, although there remain some in more remote areas.

But, for all this, this connection more and more misses a key fact: over the last couple of years, Cambodia has achieved a relative peace that has enabled dramatic social and economic change.

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