Poverty in Cambodia is characterized by low income and consumption, poor nutritional status, low educational attainment, less access to public services including school and health services, less access to economic opportunities, vulnerability to external shocks, and exclusion from economic, social and political processes. The relatively high prevalence of HIV/Aids in Cambodia is an additional challenge to the current human development situation.
Measured by both income and broader human development indicators, Cambodia is among the poorest countries in the world. Annual per capita income is US$ 256 (1999). An estimated 36% of the population lives below the basic needs poverty line. Poverty rate is higher in rural areas (40%), four times higher than in Phnom Penh (10%). The Purchasing Power Index (PPP) for Cambodia based on 2004 CSES is estimated at 2000USD annually.
To address this basic issue of poverty and the whole range of social issues arising from within a desperately poor society, BFD has over almost 25years developed a sophisticated and wide-reaching program to improve the lives of Cambodians.
BFD approaches development from a holistic perspective, and offers communities an integrated program with a focus on self reliance, independence and sustainability.
BFD has Strategic Goals in five areas:
Wealthy Communities – Improved rural economies:
Through interventions in the development of rural economy, BFD aims to raise the income levels of BFD target groups to a level above the poverty line. This is done by supporting crop diversification, creating sustainable farmer groups, and providing farmers with better knowledge, technologies and skill in intensive and integrated farming practices.
Well-governed Communities – Improved local governance:
Through BFD programs on local governance, commune councils are improving their effectiveness in local administration, developing social accountability and improving the quality of their services. There are on-going activities strengthening local administration to complement decentralisation and de-concentration policies of government.
Democratic Communities – Civil Society Engagement:
Effective engagement by civil society and BFD target groups in the development of their communities is BFD’s goal. We achieve this through promotion of free and fair elections and with increased people’s participation in local activities, especially an increased role of women, and of monks and nuns. This is highlighted as a very important role in improving democratic space; promoting the respect for law, human rights, morality, peace and conflict resolution.
BFD have introduced the highly successful and sustainable model of Peace and Development Volunteers (PDVs) and Community-based Prevention and Management of Human Rights Violations groups at village and commune levels. In addition, to support these groups with comprehensive training, mobile multimedia caravans are utilised to deliver quality training on issues relating to human rights, land rights, and democratic governance to tens of thousands of Cambodians.
Healthy Communities – Basic Health and Interventions on Diseases:
The focus is on integrated Home-based Care for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, for people living with the impacts of the disease, especially vulnerable children. The aim is to strengthen volunteerism in Health, to integrate primary health care to all BFD target groups, and have a special focus to improve health services of people living with HIV/AIDS, and to assist them with improving their livelihood skills and capacity.
Educated Communities – Access to Education and Strengthened Social Morality:
Education is key to future development within society; children and youth need to have access to robust education process from which they will emerge with understandings and skills needed for the future. To meet this challenge, BFD focuses on primary education and supports the educational needs of poor children and youth and promotes especially the education of women. School construction and support of staffing and networks is a key activity. Scholarship programs to enable and encourage all children of BFD target communities are well supported.
The involvement of Buddhist institutions, monks and nuns is a core strategy for the strengthening of social morality in community, particularly with youth and children. Monks and nuns (Donchees) are assisted to be active in their local communities, and communities are served by training delivered by Buddhist monks using radio broadcast technologies. As well as their role in education they are active in social work and counseling at community levels