Country overview of Cambodian Disabled People by AusAID

Country overview

Photo of a man with an artificial leg using a watering can to water his vegetable cropIn the village of Chrok Porn, landmine victim Koe Kan and his wife are grateful to Handicap International and AusAID for his artifical leg. His new mobility allows him to travel to the market to sell his vegetables. Photo by Kevin Evans.

Cambodia has achieved a degree of stability following many years of devastating conflict. It has enjoyed relatively solid growth over the last decade, but successive global food, fuel and economic crises, rising inflation, and a narrow export base are putting pressure on the economy. Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia.

The United Nations Development Program’s 2010 Human Development Index ranks Cambodia 124 out of 169 countries in terms of quality of life and there has been gradual progress in reducing poverty. However, income inequality is widening between urban and rural areas and Cambodia’s progress towards meeting its 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) is mixed. Good progress has been made in the areas of education (MDG2), HIV/AIDS control (MDG6) and de-mining (MDG9). Advances have been made in reducing extreme poverty (MDG1) although child malnutrition is a concern. Child mortality (MDG4) and maternal mortality (MDG5) rates remain disturbingly high. Rising levels of youth violence and violence against women (MDG3) in Cambodia are serious challenges. The ability of prisons and courts to protect vulnerable groups such as juveniles and women also remains weak. National prisons suffer from overcrowding with few options for alternative sentencing.

As an open economy with a reasonable level of integration with global and regional economies, Cambodia has considerable growth potential. However inadequate physical infrastructure hampers growth: only some 20 per cent of Cambodia’s roads are paved, the railway network is damaged and underused and electricity rates are high.

Sharing land borders with Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, Cambodia faces a range of challenges. Organised crime, infectious diseases and climate change continue to threaten the region’s stability and prosperity. Trafficking of persons for sexual or labour exploitation and narcotics trafficking are growing problems. HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria jeopardise the region’s human resource capacity and vulnerability to pandemics and emerging infectious diseases is exacerbated by weak national health systems. Climate change impacts in the Mekong region are likely to be severe and threaten to erode development gains, impacting most heavily on the poor.

Australian aid to Cambodia


Estimated total Official Development Assistance (ODA) 2012–2013: $94.7 million
Country program estimate 2012–2013: $61.5 million


Country program estimate 2011–12: $57.3 million
Total ODA: $77.4 million

Australia has been an important partner in Cambodia’s reconstruction since the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1991. Australia is one of the largest bilateral development partners helping the Royal Government of Cambodia to achieve its Millennium Development Goals.

Promoting development, stability and prosperity in Cambodia is of humanitarian and practical interest to Australia. A more stable, prosperous Cambodia will contribute to regional economic growth and assist in fighting transnational crime, including terrorism, people smuggling, narcotics and child sex tourism.

Australia supports Cambodia’s role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and engagement with the World Trade Organisation, so that it can take maximum advantage of regional economic cooperation as well as global opportunities.

During the 1990s Australia provided substantial humanitarian assistance to Cambodia through non-government organisations and multilateral organisations. Over the last decade, Australia’s assistance has shifted from emergency assistance to longer-term development.

The goal for the aid program to Cambodia is ‘to advance Australia’s national interest through contributing to poverty reduction and sustainable development in Cambodia’.

Australia’s aid program focuses on:

  • reducing rural poverty through agricultural development
  • improving health services
  • upgrading infrastructure for growth, trade and travel
  • promoting access to justice

‘Australia’s Strategic Approach to Aid in Cambodia’ outlines Australia’s proposed strategy for its aid program in Cambodia.

Media article – Midwifery program receives accolades (external website)

Aid activities in Cambodia

Cambodia Agricultural Value Chain Project (CAVAC) (2009–2013)

CAVAC is central to AusAID’s support to Cambodia’s agricultural sector. The aim of the project is to reduce poverty and increase farmer incomes through improved agricultural productivity. This includes supporting higher quality rice seed, product diversification, irrigation infrastructure and better farmer links to market traders and agribusiness. The project is initially focusing on three provinces: Kampong Thom, Takeo and Kampot. AusAID works with the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research to implement CAVAC.

Health Sector Support Project 2 (HSSP2) (2011–2014)

HSSP2 aims to support equitable access to, and utilisation of, essential quality health care and preventative services with a particular emphasis on women, children and the poor. The joint donor project helps to implement the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Health Sector Program using pooled funds and common management, reporting, evaluation, procurement and financial systems. Australia’s contribution focuses on under-funded or under-resourced areas of the health system with an emphasis on maternal and child health. Australia is one of seven development partners working with the Royal Government of Cambodia to implement the project.

Cambodia Criminal Justice Assistance Project (CCJAP) Phase III (2007–2012)

CCJAP Phase III aims to provide equitable access to justice with a particular focus on juvenile justice, women and other disadvantaged groups. Like previous phases, the project continues to work with Royal Government of Cambodia’s police, prison and judicial authorities at national, provincial, district and commune levels. The project also focuses on improvements at community level. Non-government organisations are supported to improve community safety and prevent crime, and provide health, education and legal aid services for prisoners.

Rehabilitation of Railway in Cambodia Project (2009–2014)

Australia is helping to rehabilitate and reconstruct Cambodia’s underused and damaged railway network. Over 650km of railway will be upgraded to connect Phnom Penh with Cambodia’s international container port in Sihanoukville and Poipet on the Thailand border. The railway upgrade will encourage economic growth, create jobs, and boost trade and regional economic integration. Australia’s partners in the project include the Royal Government of Cambodia and Asian Development Bank.

AusAID fact sheet

The Railway Rehabilitation Project in Cambodia

Asian Development Bank information (external website)

Rehabilitation of the Railway in Cambodia

ADB Briefing Sheet 1: Railway Benefits [PDF 1.2mb]
ADB Briefing Sheet 2: Railway Rehabilitation and Reconstruction [PDF 340kb]
ADB Briefing Sheet 3: Resettlement Challenges and Progress [PDF 154kb]
ADB Briefing Sheet 4: The Expanded Income Restoration Program [PDF 1.2mb]

ADB Video: Resettling to a new way of life

Australian Embassy, Phnom Penh

18 November 2011 Press statement—Railway Rehabilitation Project (external website, Word 32kb)

Cambodia Road Asset Maintenance Project (RAMP) (2007–2013)

RAMP assists the Royal Government of Cambodia with periodic maintenance of 950km of national and provincial roads. The project aims to keep previously upgraded national roads in good condition by building government capacity to prioritise and complete road maintenance activities. Australia is working with the Asian Development Bank and World Bank to implement the project.

Southern Coastal Corridor Project (SCCP) (2007–2015)

The SCC project will complete the Greater Mekong Subregion Southern Coastal Corridor in Cambodia (which runs from Bangkok through Thailand and Cambodia ending in southern Vietnam). The project aims to rehabilitate 15km of national road 33 at the Cambodia-Vietnam border and build new cross border facilities at Cambodia’s borders with Thailand and Vietnam. The upgraded road will lower travel times, lower costs and increased trade and movement between Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Australia and the Asian Development Bank are jointly financing the project, which is being implemented by the Royal Government of Cambodia.

Cambodia Rural Electrification Project (RETP) (2007–2014)

RETP aims to expand electricity coverage and deliver renewable energy alternatives to remote Cambodian communities. This includes increasing rural household access to affordable energy by extending electricity supply to an additional 13,000 rural households and small enterprises and promoting the use of energy efficient cooking stoves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Emergency Flood Rehabilitation Project (2012–2015)

The Cambodia Emergency Flood Rehabilitation Project aims to restore roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure damaged during severe floods in 2011. The project operates across six provinces which have been identified as the provinces most in need of assistance. The restoration will help protect the communities against future flooding and ensure people’s lives are not disrupted by hazards caused by severe weather. Australia is working with the Asian Development Bank and will provide support of $5 million over three years from 2012 to 2015.

Clearing For Results Phase II (2011–2014)

Clearing for Results II is a multi-donor funding facility for mine action. It helps develop the capacity of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), Cambodia’s national mine action oversight body, to coordinate, regulate and monitor all mine action activities, and support the Government’s community-driven landmine clearance process. The project aims to address efficiency and cost-effectiveness issues and support the systematic integration of mine clearance into national and provincial development plans and programmes. It supports demining operations by the Cambodian Mine Action Centre and survey activities by demining operators including Halo Trust. It also supports awareness-raising on land mines, explosive remnants of war and cluster munitions, through community activities and the arts.

Cambodia Initiative for Disability Inclusion (CIDI) (2007–2012)

CIDI aims to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities in Cambodia by supporting national efforts towards disability inclusion and the promotion of rights, and reducing impairments caused by landmines and unexploded ordnances. The project includes:

  • supporting civil society partners to deliver essential services
  • empowering people with disability and implementing other disability-inclusive development projects
  • supporting the disability-inclusion efforts of the Cambodian Red Cross.

Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (2003–2013)

The Khmer Rouge Tribunal was established to bring senior members of the former Khmer Rouge regime to justice for crimes against humanity committed between 1975 and 1979. With the long-term support of Australia, and other development partners, the first case against Kaing Guek Eav—’Comrade Duch’—commander of the Tuol Sleng prison where more than 17,000 Cambodians were tortured—concluded with a guilty verdict and life sentence on February 3, 2012. A second case involving trials for three former Khmer Rouge leaders—Head of State Khieu Samphan, Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and ‘Brother number two’ Nuon Chea—commenced in June 2011. The court has given Cambodians the opportunity to tell their story of crimes committed and see justice for these crimes. Australia’s total contribution to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal since 2006 has been $19.7 million.

Support for non-government organisations and communities

Community Development Fund

AusAID administers the Community Development Fund, a competitive small grants fund which targets the most vulnerable communities in Cambodia, focusing on reducing poverty reduction through direct, tangible and sustainable development. Through the fund grants are awarded to high quality projects in agriculture, education, health and community infrastructure. Submissions are accepted from community based organisations, or registered local and international non-government organisations and public institutions. One selection round is held annually. Further information on the fund can be found at the Cambodian Embassy [external link] website.

Request more information by email

Australia Mekong – Non-Government Organisation Engagement Platform

From 2013 the Australia Mekong – Non-Government Organisation Engagement Platform will support and facilitate change in the way AusAID and NGOs do business in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The design document and a factsheet explain the new approach.

Australia Awards

The goal of the AusAID Australia Awards program in Cambodia is to develop the capacity and leadership skills of Cambodian students so that they can contribute to development in their country, and build linkages at the individual, institutional and country levels. The Cambodia Australian Scholarships Program has increased from 20 scholarships offered to study post graduate degrees in Australia in 1994, to 50 awarded in 2012.

The Australian Leadership Awards (ALA) scholarships are supplementary to the Australian Development Scholarships. Only 200 ALA Scholarships are available globally on an annual basis. Awardees undertake a Leadership for Development Program in Australia. In 2011, Australia awarded 6 ALAs to support leaders in Cambodia.

The Australian Leadership Award (ALA) Fellowships aim to develop leadership and address priority regional development issues through short-term professional development and training opportunities. In 2011, 70 Cambodians were awarded ALAFs for professional development opportunities and training.

More than 480 Cambodian students have been awarded with Australia Awards to study in Australia since the scholarships program began in 1994. Further information about Australia Awards in Cambodia can be found at the Cambodian Embassy [external link] website.

Australian Volunteers for International Development

In 2012-13 the Australian Government is funding more than 160 Australian volunteers in Cambodia through the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program. The AVID Program includes Youth Ambassadors for Development, Volunteers International for Development from Australia, Australian Business Volunteers, (managed by Austraining International); Australian Volunteers International and Red Cross programs placing volunteers in a diverse range of organisations to assist Cambodia’s development. Further information on the Australian Volunteers for International Development program, including how to find out more about volunteering in Cambodia, or how to become a host organisation is at [external link].



Posted by: Love_CAM
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