|At the pace of development of Cambodia's economy, the pressure on these indigenous communities has grown quickly.|
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).
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.
|The forum works through eight working groups that meet regularly to discuss issues such as tax and law, export, and tourism.|
|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.|
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).
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.
|Workers scale one of the skyscrapers under construction in Cambodia.|
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.