Cambodia uses innovative methodologies while developing social welfare policies: H.E Boros Samheng

On September 3rd, The Federal Republic of Nigeria hosted a high-level side event co-organised with the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN) at the 77th UN General Assembly.

The event brought together 21 heads of state and government and senior representatives of international organizations to discuss their commitments to using Multidimensional Poverty Indices (MPIs) as policy tools to eradicate poverty in all its dimensions and secure well-being for all. The discussion highlighted the importance of political leadership, innovation, collaboration, and renewed focus to meet these goals.

Cambodia was represented by H.E Boros Samheng.

H.E Boros Samheng began his speech with a question: Are we trapped in our own economic success? This is a follow-up from his last speech at the same side event at the UNGA entitled “Are we making policy blindly?”

He stated that Cambodia has been one of the world’s fastest growing economies for the past 30 years, reducing poverty by more than half in just 12 years, from 47.8% in 2007 to around 17.8% in 2019.

He said, “The Royal Government of Cambodia has made poverty eradication a top priority. For decades, poverty reduction has been fueled by rapid economic growth.”

“According to the most recent Human Development Report, which was released a few weeks ago, Cambodia’s real Gross National Income per capita has quadrupled in the last 30 years, rising from US$ 1,008 in 1990 to US$ 4,078 in 2021.”

While focusing on how the Royal Government of Cambodia took measures when COVID-19 struck, he asserted, “Cambodia allocated over one-fifth of its national budget to implement the country’s first-ever cash transfer program for the underprivileged, reaching nearly 700,000 families, as well as numerous additional assistance measures for MSMEs and garment workers.”

H.E. Samheng Boros also mentioned about the positive changes in Cambodia’s critical social indicators. He stated, “ Rapid economic growth has also greatly helped Cambodia in improving some critical social indicators, such as maternal mortality ratio, which has decreased by 81.8 percent from 879 deaths per thousand live births in 1990 to 160 in 2017 and subsequent years, while life expectancy at birth has increased by more than 14 years to exceed 70 since 2016.”

“The cash transfer program IDPoor provides approximately $40 per month to each family, and the Royal Government of Cambodia has spent approximately 700 million US dollars since June 2020. This is unique in terms of both concept and scale.”

“To adopt a different approach, a multidimensional approach to implementing effective initiatives on the ground level, Cambodia uses the MPI, or Multidimensional Poverty Index, in combination with the ALKIRE-FOSTER methodology to prioritise the deprivation of its valued citizens.”

“Furthermore, the Ministry of Planning is working with UNDP, line ministers, and other development partners to develop a National Multidimensional Vulnerability Index. This index will be especially useful in tracking the progress of key deprivation indicators that are impacting our beloved citizens’ livelihoods and well-being. With the National MVI accessible to policymakers, we will be one step closer to achieving our development goals and the global commitment of LEAVING NO ONE BEHIND.”

The Minister added, “The National MVI is well advanced in our internal discussion process, and we intend to adopt it before the end of the year to complement monetary poverty measurement and guide our poverty and vulnerability reduction initiatives throughout the country.

The possible uses and applications are numerous once we have the National MVI. For example, in the redesign of social protection interventions to benefit vulnerable groups such as women and girls. At the granular level, we may see multiple overlapping deprivations facing each local community.”

H.E. Samheng Boros also acknowledged his ministry’s involvement in social development. He remarked, “My ministry MoSVY serves as a social assistance operator, particularly through the National Social Assistance Fund (NSAF). In other words, one of our primary responsibilities is to work toward implementing policies to improve social welfare and poverty reduction through the delivery of social assistance programs, including cash and non-cash transfers to poor and vulnerable households.”

He ended his address with, “In a nutshell, the government can use this tool to precisely develop policy interventions that respond to the needs and objectives of poor and vulnerable households. In other words, we don’t need to make policy blindly anymore.”

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