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Country Development Cooperation Strategy

Speeches Shim

Cambodia is one of the world’s poorest countries, and nearly a fifth of all Cambodians continue to live below the poverty line.

The majority of Cambodia’s population is engaged in an agriculture sector that is both inefficient and undiversified. Representing over 50% of the agricultural workforce, and with significantly higher illiteracy adult rates than men, women are particularly vulnerable to the economic inefficiencies on the farm and have limited off-farm livelihood opportunities. Additionally, the agriculture sector is highly vulnerable to climate change, and natural resource degradation is exacerbating rural poverty. The celebrated MDG gains in the health sector are fragile, and greater country responsibility for funding and leadership is needed to strengthen and sustain health systems. Tremendous progress has been achieved in women’s elected representation at the local level, but increased participation in decision-making is needed to significantly measure progress in women’s public leadership. Meanwhile, the next generations of Cambodians are endangered with less than half of children graduating from secondary school, while the number of children in institutional care rather than with families has increased from 6,254 to 11,945.

Cambodia’s future development will increasingly be shaped by its large youth population, which is predicted to remain the majority of the populace until 2035. This generation does not have a personal history with genocide and political struggle. Many Cambodian youth seek economic opportunity and political freedom; if trained in relevant skill areas, and allowed to flourish under democratic rule of law, this population will become Cambodia's major asset. Use of technology, especially social media, is increasing exponentially, expanding the reach of technical – and political – information. Furthermore, youth have the potential to move beyond the understanding simply that domestic violence is illegal, to believe that gender-based violence is also unacceptable. The private sector is cultivating a crop of entrepreneurs in new industries that is more willing to invest in labor skills training and engage in policy reform. The Cambodian government also has a cadre of younger technical officers who are working to professionalize the machinery of government and enact administrative reforms to better implement policies.

Cambodia’s historic wealth of biodiversity, land, and water is under pressure from economic expansion and population growth. Land issues have become a major focus for citizens’ expression of political discontent. While Cambodia remains predominantly rural, Phnom Penh is among the fastest growing urban centers in the world, with migrants to the city having greater access to information and communication technology, as well as higher expectations for their own and their children’s future.

This 2014-2018 CDCS utilizes resources across the democracy and technical sectors, as well as from other donors, the private sector, and civil society, to advance the conditions necessary for a democratic and prosperous Cambodia--prosperity being based on higher status levels in education and health, among other factors.

This CDCS is completed at a time when key factors in the political context remain unknown. The Mission, in response, anticipates reviewing and revising the strategy to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise. At the time this strategy was completed, agreement had not been reached on the outcome of the July 2013 national elections, nor has the opposition's participation in the government been resolved.

By the end of this strategy period, USAID will have achieved specific DO level outcomes and will have substantially furthered Cambodia's own foundation underpinning a sustained democratization and economic development. This will include a much broader and deeper democratic political culture, a more sustainable Cambodian civil society capacity, greater civic engagement in governing processes, and more responsive governing institutions protecting human and civil rights across a variety of sectors– all of which are critical for Cambodia’s democratization process. USAID will have supported a significant increase in citizen engagement in health services, land management, early grade education quality, agriculture production and sales, and environmental conservation. Citizens will better be able to mobilize and demand increased government accountability and transparency in the health, education, agriculture, and environment sectors. Youth and women’s civic engagement will have increased, including the number of women in leadership positions. The TIP rating for Cambodia will have improved to at least Tier 2. The rights and needs of the vulnerable and marginalized populations will be recognized by government and civil society, and progress made in building systems to address them.

At the end of five years, HIV prevalence will have reduced among high risk populations through improved testing and the roll-out of innovative treatment approaches. Interventions to reduce stunting will have been tested and best practices for Cambodia determined, with prevalence rates dropping for the first time, a component of which is families having access to improved sanitation. There will be nearly universal delivery in a healthcare facility, fewer newborns will die, and there will be improved detection of MDR-TB, resulting in a better match between those projected to have MDR-TB and those being treated. Government ownership and financing of the social sector will have increased, demonstrated by increased government spending and contributions to both the education and health sector. Finally, improved reading scores for Cambodian children will help reduce school dropout rates, and increase work force competitiveness. Reducing gender based violence will be incorporated as a primary objective in national strategies, with community awareness substantially increased.

Also at the end of the five year strategy period, the Mission will have supported a reduction of the people living on less than the poverty level of $1.25 per day from 23% of the population in 2010 to below 17% poverty in the major provinces around the Cambodia's central lake. Horticulture will be established as a viable commercial business, with private sector interest building market systems. A Cambodian system for expanding knowledge on agriculture, and a dissemination network or extension service will be identified and begin to be established. The financial and environmental costs of deforestation and interference with the Mekong River natural flows will be known at the highest levels and debated publicly at national and regional levels. Community systems for negotiating environmental conservation will be established, evaluated, and well known.