USAID in Cambodia
Cambodia has been transformed in remarkable ways, and U.S. assistance continues to make significant contributions to the country’s ongoing development. The country is at peace after decades of conflict; strong economic growth since 1999 has lifted many Cambodians out of poverty; and the relationship between Royal Government of Cambodia and the United States Government has never been better. Despite a global economic downturn, a majority of Cambodians believe that their country is on the right path and are optimistic about the future. USAID programs have made considerable progress in building political will to improve governance and fight corruption, improving the health and education of the Cambodian people, and sustaining private sector-led growth. Through our programs, we strive to promote more effective, inclusive and accountable management of Cambodia’s main assets, including: its people; its natural resources; its economic potential; and its democratic institutions. USAID has a staff of fifty-four employees, two thirds of whom are Cambodian.
Governing Justly and Democratically
USAID engages with the government and civil society organizations to help combat corruption, improve the legal system, strengthen key political and civil liberties, and protect human rights. By informing and fueling the public debate about transparency and accountability, USAID is laying the groundwork for reform and building the political will for change. USAID’s programs are encouraging youth and women to get involved in the democratic process. USAID is providing training and capacity building to the Cambodian government’s Anti-Corruption Unit to improve its operations and strengthen the skills of its staff to investigate corruption and prepare cases for prosecution. USAID’s efforts to strengthen good governance include activities to improve elected officials’ accountability and responsiveness to their constituents. Working with the Bar Association of Cambodia, USAID supports a legal aid internship program. Through partnership with the Ministry of Justice, USAID Assistance enabled the development of a justice statistics database while simultaneously assisting civil society organizations with the creation of a shared database to track human rights violations. USAID helped the government establish a national task force on trafficking that works on increasing coordination and transparency across all government agencies and civil society. As a result of this cooperation, the task force launched a national campaign that uses public-service announcements and citizen dialogue sessions to raise awareness about the dangers of human trafficking. The U.S. recognized Cambodia’s progress in addressing the issue.
Investing in People
USAID is working to combat a variety of health problems in Cambodia. The Country’s maternal mortality rate is the second highest in East Asia, the number of newborn deaths is extremely high, and malnutrition in young children and expecting mothers is endemic. USAID is improving maternal and child health by developing national policies and strengthening national systems, improving clinical skills, expanding community outreach and health financing schemes for the poor, providing community education, and improving access to quality services. Although the HIV prevalence rate is high in specific populations, USAID’s programs have helped to sustain the reduction in HIV new infections and to provide life-saving antiretroviral therapy to over 90% of those needing it. TB, which affects 64 percent of the population, is also a major problem. USAID’s support of the national TB-control program and the expansion of community-based services has helped maintain high detection rates of new TB cases and high treatment success rates. USAID’s health programs have strengthened surveillance and response systems for both animal and human disease and developed health financing modalities that provide increased access to quality health care services. USAID is also working to combat the growing cross-border problem of drug-resistant malaria.
The school drop-out rate is high, so USAID is focused on improving education quality and increasing access for marginalized populations. USAID developing and pilot testing the lower secondary life skills curriculum and teacher training materials, strengthening the leadership and management of the educational system, providing school improvement grants, and awarding student scholarships. In USAID-targeted areas, approximately 61percent of targeted schools report reduced dropout rates, and 59 percent report a reduction in students repeating grades.
USAID's economic programs have improved the investment environment and enhanced the competitiveness of small- and medium-sized enterprises, which employ most of the population. USAID has helped over 3,800 family businesses increase their sales by 100-340 percent. Complementary efforts include association development, increased public-private dialogue, which has generated private sector demand for policy reforms, and public sector strengthening through better regulatory drafting. USAID works in 14 provinces and eight value chains including swine, aquaculture, brick/tile, garments, wild honey, resin, water and sanitation, eco-tourism. In addition to our work in the private sector, under the new Feed the Future Initiative, USAID will provide assistance to enhance agricultural production systems, promote the adoption of improved cultivation techniques, develop post harvest management opportunities, increase rural employment, help rural Cambodia adapt to climate change, and build the capacity of civil society, private sector, and government to address food security and climate change.
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