Written by, H.E Samheng Boros
All people have certain needs that need to be met in order to live a good life. These needs are important because they show what drives human behavior and what makes people want to do certain things in life.
If parents aren’t stressed out about providing for their families’ most fundamental needs, such as food, shelter, and medical care, they can focus their attention where it’s needed most: on raising happy, healthy children who will one day become productive members of society.
Mothers with young children have been hit hard by the pandemic because parents have had to figure out how to meet their families’ most basic needs despite job insecurity, loss of income, serious concerns about health and safety, and the widespread closing of schools and many other services and resources that usually help young children and their families. Even though things have been bad, they would have been much worse without government assistance.
In Cambodia, poor women receive 40,000 riels from the government for each regularly planned visit to a health clinic until their child reaches the age of two. For the poorest families, these payments mean being able to maintain a nutrient-dense diet without having to sacrifice trips to the health center for check-ups or school supplies for their older children.
The Royal Government of Cambodia organized regular health checkups for underprivileged children with the assistance of UNICEF. They can go to the village health care center on a regular basis. During these visits, village children are checked for healthy growth and development, and mothers receive nutritional counseling as well as information on other important services available at the health center. These checkups are very important for malnourished children because they let doctors find and treat problems early, before they get worse over time.
The pilot program for the current national cash transfer program began in 2016. In the past six years, village health centers have progressed from seeing 20–30 patients per day to more than 100. Not only are there more patient visits every day, but malnutrition went down as well.
The health care workers’ quarterly visits to villages make a big difference because families get to meet the employees at the health center and learn about the services they offer. When they come in for visits, these healthcare professionals assist the most vulnerable families—those with IDPoor status—to enroll in the cash transfer program; as a result, the community’s malnutrition rate has decreased.
The National Social Protection Council and MoSVY worked to cover the growing number of IDPoor under the new national COVID-19 Cash Transfer Program for the Poor and Vulnerable and to expand the coverage of the current program to children over two, people with disabilities, the elderly, and people living with HIV/AIDS. This was done with the generous financial support of SIDA, the SDG Fund, the European Union, UNICEF, and SIDA.
The digital system for giving cash transfers to pregnant women and young children was improved, an existing money transfer partnership (Wing) was made bigger, commune leaders were trained, and the new program was spread to villages all over the country in a matter of months after it became clear how badly it was needed. About 680,000 IDPoor families are currently enrolled in a cash transfer program and getting help from it. This cash distribution program is part of an expanding social safety net for the 2.8 million Cambodians living in the most precarious conditions.
The development of the social protection system involves investments and the provision of economic security for the population, particularly for the poor and vulnerable families. In this spirit, the Royal Government of Cambodia will continue to enhance and extend the social assistance and social security systems in a more targeted manner, particularly by encouraging and motivating people in the informal economy to formalize in order to receive protections.
The eradication of poverty, hunger, malnutrition, disease, and illiteracy is our top priority. All social welfare programs are effectively implemented. People and organizations involved in service delivery have a strong sense of duty and work in a transparent, corruption-free, timely, and accountable manner.
Power has only one duty – to secure the social welfare of the People- Benjamin Disraeli
H.E Samheng Boros is Minister attached to the Prime Minister, Royal Government of Cambodia and Chairman of National Social Assistance Fund Board (NSAF) and Secretary of State at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY).