A Poverty Profile of Cambodia

A Poverty Profile of Cambodia

A Poverty Profile of Cambodia

A Poverty Profile of Cambodia


World Bank Discussion Paper No. 373. This discussion paper constructs a consistent, nationwide poverty profile of Cambodia to support the government's effort to strengthen the design of poverty reduction policies. Basic data are given on the level and distribution of living standards as measured by per capita household consumption expenditures. The authors use the Socioeconomic Survey of Cambodia (SESC) of 1993-94 to estimate poverty measures and make poverty comparisons for Cambodia.


Since 1993 the Royal Government of Cambodia has made important strides in reestablishing political and economic stability. These achievements are impressive given the suffering that the country and its people experienced during the past quarter of a century. Most people still lack access to health and education facilities, potable water, electricity and serviceable roads. the country’s natural and productive capital have suffered great losses. Land mines render large portions of valuable agricultural land unuseable, and pose a serious threat to people. But perhaps Cambodia’s greatest loss was the depletion of its human capital by mass genocide and large-scale exodus of the most educated citizens during the years of Khmer Rouge rule from 1975 to 1979 when institutions were dismantled, the legal system destroyed and money abolished.

With this legacy of suffering and devastation Cambodia is now one of the poorest countries in the world with a per capita income of only US$ 260. Achieving rapid poverty reduction is therefore a central goal of Cambodia’s First Socioeconomic Development Plan, 1996–2000. Better and up-to-date information about the poor is needed to assist the government in designing effective policies for attacking poverty to achieve this goal. Who are the poor? How many poor are there? Where do they live? What are their sources of income? Answering such basic policy questions on poverty requires a systematic information base on the distribution of living standards. This paper constructs a consistent nationwide poverty profile to support the government’s effort to strengthen the design of poverty reduction policies. the poverty profile is based on the first Socioeconomic Survey of Cambodia (SESC) carried out in 1993/94 by the National Institute of Statistics, Ministry of Planning and cosponsored by the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme. the sesc represents the first large-scale national household survey of living standards undertaken in Cambodia, although complete coverage of rural areas was not feasible because of security risks. As such it marks an important contribution to development of the information base for better poverty analysis and policy in Cambodia.

Cambodia’s poverty profile for 1993/94 provides policy-oriented poverty comparisons which can be used to help target anti-poverty programs, to make international comparisons of poverty incidence, and to set a baseline for future monitoring of Cambodia’s development progress over time. Publication of this paper makes available the methodology and results to stimulate discussion and comment on Cambodia’s poverty reduction agenda within the development community.

Javad Khalilzadeh-Shirazi


Country Department 1

East Asia and Pacific Region . . .

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