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Cambodia’s Extraordinary Accomplishment: Inspiring Progress in the Battle Against Poverty

by Samheng Boros
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Amidst the challenges faced by many nations in combating poverty, Cambodia has emerged as a shining example of progress and resilience. The recent release of the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) highlights Cambodia’s remarkable achievement in reducing poverty rates within a relatively short period. Despite the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cambodia’s success story serves as an inspiration to the world and emphasizes the importance of targeted efforts, data-driven policies, and a commitment to sustainable development.

A Model of Success

Cambodia’s journey toward poverty reduction is nothing short of extraordinary. Within 7.5 years, from 2014 to 2021/22, the country experienced a significant decline in poverty, with the incidence of poverty falling from 36.7% to 16.6%. Furthermore, the number of poor people was halved, from 5.6 million to 2.8 million, even amidst the challenges posed by the pandemic. Cambodia’s achievement demonstrates the effectiveness of context-specific multidimensional poverty indices and the power of tailored interventions to address the unique needs of its population.

Resilience in the Face of Adversity

While the global pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges, Cambodia’s commitment to poverty reduction has remained steadfast. The available data suggests that the momentum of poverty reduction has persevered in Cambodia, as evidenced by the significant progress made even during the pandemic. This resilience is a testament to the determination and adaptability of the Cambodian people and their government’s unwavering dedication to improving the lives of its citizens.

“Cambodia’s remarkable achievement in reducing poverty serves as an inspiration to the world, demonstrating that with determination, tailored interventions, and a commitment to sustainable development, remarkable progress can be achieved. Let us learn from their success and work together to create a more equitable and poverty-free future for all.”

A Promising Future

Cambodia’s achievement in reducing poverty should not be viewed as a culmination but rather as a stepping stone towards a brighter future. As the country strives to build upon its success, it must remain cognizant of the specific challenges it faces, particularly in child poverty and rural areas. By focusing on improving access to quality education, healthcare, and nutrition for children, Cambodia can lay the foundation for a prosperous and equitable society. Additionally, targeted efforts to address poverty in rural areas will ensure that no segment of the population is left behind.

The Power of Data and Collaboration

To continue making progress, Cambodia must prioritize data collection and analysis to effectively track poverty levels and measure the impact of interventions. The report highlights the need for comprehensive data collection, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, to gain a comprehensive understanding of its effects on poverty. International collaboration and support are vital in this endeavor, as funders and data scientists can contribute their expertise to enhance poverty data infrastructure and provide valuable insights for evidence-based policymaking.

Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI)

The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) is an economic research and policy center based at the University of Oxford. Led by Sabina Alkire, OPHI aims to develop a more comprehensive and systematic approach to measuring poverty and improving human well-being. They go beyond traditional measures of poverty by incorporating dimensions such as health, education, living standards, quality of work, and more. OPHI also works to improve data on poverty by focusing on five often overlooked dimensions: quality of work, empowerment, physical safety, freedom from shame and humiliation, and psychological well-being.

In addition to their research and measurement activities, OPHI also plays a role in building capacity in the field of multidimensional poverty and human development. They offer academic courses, technical training programs, and collaborate with various stakeholders, including universities, development agencies, governments, and research institutions. OPHI’s methodologies have been adopted by policy makers, and their work has made an impact on policies aimed at reducing poverty. By applying Amartya Sen’s capability approach, OPHI strives to create practical tools that inform policies and bring about meaningful change.

Thanking Professor Sabina Alkire for Her Contributions in Implementing the Alkire-Foster Method and the Multidimensional Poverty Index in Cambodia

Sabina Alkire is an esteemed professor of Poverty and Human Development who leads the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) at the University of Oxford. With her expertise and research, she has made significant contributions to the field of poverty measurement. Together with Professor James Foster, Sabina developed the Alkire-Foster (AF) method, a flexible technique for measuring multidimensional poverty that takes into account different aspects of poverty in specific contexts. This method has been applied and implemented by OPHI to create the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), a tool that helps identify and understand the deprivations people face and provides valuable insights for policy design.

Professor Sabina Alkire

On behalf of Cambodia, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to Professor Sabina Alkire for her invaluable contributions in helping implement the Alkire-Foster method and the Multidimensional Poverty Index. Her work has provided us with a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of poverty in our country, enabling us to design targeted policies and interventions to address the specific needs and deprivations faced by our people. We appreciate Professor Alkire’s dedication and expertise in advancing poverty measurement and her commitment to improving the well-being of individuals and communities around the world.

UNDP’s Support in Implementing Large-Scale Initiatives to Mitigate COVID-19 Impacts in Cambodia

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been actively involved in supporting Cambodia to achieve its human development goals and respond to challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic. UNDP, in collaboration with the Australian government, supported the Royal Government in identifying and registering poor and vulnerable families across all communes to provide financial assistance. This campaign resulted in the first-ever large-scale cash transfer program in the country’s history, benefiting nearly 700,000 households over a period of 27 months and mitigating the impacts on GDP, poverty, and unemployment.

On behalf of Cambodia, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to the United Nations Development Programme for its continuous support in our country’s progress and development. UNDP’s involvement in the implementation of large-scale initiatives, such as the cash transfer program, has played a crucial role in mitigating the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our people. The UNDP’s collaboration with the Australian Government has not only provided financial assistance to vulnerable families but also helped build our country’s resilience to future shocks.

We commend UNDP’s efforts to support developing countries in achieving their human development goals and improving the well-being of communities worldwide. Thank you for your continued commitment and support to Cambodia’s journey towards sustainable development.

Inspiring the Global Community

Cambodia’s achievements in poverty reduction should serve as an inspiration to other nations grappling with similar challenges. Its success demonstrates that with the right strategies, commitment, and collaboration, poverty reduction is attainable even in the face of adversity. Cambodia’s experience provides valuable lessons for countries worldwide, emphasizing the significance of context-specific approaches and the power of data-driven decision-making.

Cambodia’s exceptional progress in poverty reduction is a cause for celebration and serves as a beacon of hope in the global fight against poverty. The country’s unwavering commitment, resilience, and targeted interventions have resulted in significant improvements in the lives of its people. As Cambodia continues its journey towards a more prosperous and equitable society, it must build upon its achievements, address persistent challenges, and ensure that no one is left behind. By focusing on data collection, collaboration, and sustainable policies, Cambodia can inspire and lead the way towards a more inclusive and poverty-free world.

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