October 5, 2011
Advancing Poverty Reduction Progress in Cambodia
After Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia was brought to an end in September of 1989, the country attempted to rid itself of a corrupt government and of poverty. With the help of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Cambodia was able to hold elections and begin a journey of economic development and poverty reduction. While on the surface the coalition government, a multiparty democracy under a constitutional monarchy, seems to be working well, Cambodia still continues to suffer from many of the same problems as most third world countries do: widespread violence, poverty, poor economic development, drug and sex trafficking, income disparities, and a weak judicial system (Sodhy, 2004, p.157). The most important of these issues in Cambodia is that of poverty and economic development. Nonetheless, Anders Engvall et al., researchers for the Stockholm School of Economics, state in their article that “newly released poverty estimates for Cambodia show unexpectedly strong progress with a decline in poverty rates from about 47 percent of the population in 1994-1997 to about 35 percent in 2004” (2008, p.74). Despite this progress made, Cambodia still remains one of the poorest countries in the region of Southeast Asia.
What is hindering Cambodia’s advancement in order to shed the “developing country” status? Besides being one of the poorest countries in the region, income growth and poverty reduction are unevenly distributed. Moreover, poverty in Cambodia is characterized by low educational attainment, low access to health care services, high population growth, and a decline in the agricultural sector to name a few. While there has been a large increase in the standard of living in urban areas, progress in rural Cambodia has been significantly less. As a result, poverty in Cambodia today seems to be a predominantly rural issue. Engvall et al. also go...