Overview

  • Following more than two decades of strong economic growth, Cambodia has attained lower middle-income status in 2015, with gross national income (GNI) per capita reaching $1,070. Driven by garment exports and tourism, Cambodia has sustained an average growth rate of 7.7% between 1995-2017, the sixth fastest-growing economy in the world. Economic growth is expected to reach 7% in 2018 compared to 6.9% in 2017, as global demand peaks, and remain robust over the next two years.

    Poverty continues to fall in Cambodia, albeit more slowly than in the past. In 2014, the poverty rate was 13.5% compared to 47.8% in 2007. About 90% of the poor live in the countryside. While Cambodia has achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving poverty in 2009, the vast majority of families who escaped poverty did so by a small margin. Around 4.5 million people remain near-poor, vulnerable to falling back into poverty when exposed to economic and other external shocks.

    Health and education remain both important challenges and development priorities for Cambodia, where 32% (or approximately 500,000) of children under five are stunted. While net enrollment in primary education increased from 82% in 1997 to 97% in 2016, lower secondary completion rates, at 48% in 2015, are significantly below the average for lower middle-income countries. As of 2015, 70% of Cambodia’s population (12.3 million people) do not have access to piped water, and 58% (9.3 million people) do not have access to improved sanitation.

    Cambodia has made good strides in improving maternal health, early childhood development, and primary education in rural areas. The maternal mortality ratio per 100,000 live births decreased from 472 in 2005 to 170 in 2014, the under-five mortality rate decreased from 83 per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 35 per 1,000 in 2014.

    Despite these achievements, Cambodia still faces a number of development challenges, including the need for good quality public service delivery, inclusive development, better land administration and natural resources management, environmental sustainability, and good governance. Going forward, the success of addressing these challenges will rest not only on maintaining macroeconomic stability and increasing economic diversification and export competitiveness, but also on improving the quality of public service delivery through more effective public spending that is more responsive to citizens’ needs.

    Last Updated: Sep 20, 2018

  • The World Bank’s engagement in Cambodia focuses on its mandate to eliminate poverty and boost shared prosperity by investing in human capital, tackling rural poverty, building basic infrastructure, and empowering communities. This engagement has contributed to remarkable long-run improvements in the well-being of the Cambodian people, in areas like health and education outcomes. Our engagement has also strengthened government accountability for expenditure management and quality of service delivery.

    Cambodia received its first credit from the World Bank in 1993. Following decades of conflict, the World Bank’s priority areas were to support the reconstruction of social and economic institutions and the development of physical infrastructure. Since 1999, increasing focus has been placed on governance reforms, macroeconomic stability and sustainable economic growth, private sector development, rural development, sustainable natural resource management, and improving and expanding health and education services.

    In 2015, the World Bank Group carried out extensive country consultations with stakeholders on Cambodia’s development opportunities and challenges. These consultations helped inform the World Bank Group Country Engagement Note (CEN), a two-year strategy to support Cambodia in sustaining inclusive and resilient growth to reduce poverty and enhance shared prosperity. The strategy was endorsed by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on May 19, 2016.

    The strategy elaborated in the CEN supports Cambodia’s 2014-2018 National Strategic Development Plan and aims to help the country further improve its business climate, deliver better social and infrastructure services, and generate opportunities for the poorest by investing in productive assets.

    As part of the implementation of the CEN, the World Bank Group has prepared a Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) to help identify opportunities and challenges, as well as priority development areas for ensuring strong, inclusive and sustainable growth and shared prosperity in Cambodia going forward. Between November and December 2016, the World Bank Group engaged in discussions with a wide set of stakeholders around the SCD (

    Drawing from the analysis and consultations, the SCD identified three pathways for development:

    1. Enhancing export competitiveness and economic diversification to sustain strong growth and create jobs
    2. Building human assets to facilitate economic mobility and shared prosperity
    3. Ensuring a more sustainable growth pattern by investing in natural capital, climate resilience, and sustainable urban development

    The SCD analysis will help in preparing the upcoming World Bank Country Partnership Framework (CPF).

    Currently, the World Bank supports 10 active projects in a variety of sectors, including education, health, roads, improved livelihoods, water resource management, disaster risk management, and community level service delivery. The total financing is about US$450 million in credits from the International Development Association (IDA), and over US$30 million in grants from Trust Funds.  

    The World Bank is also supporting Cambodia through 21 Advisory Services and Analytics (ASA). These include support to topics such as Social Accountability Impact, Early Childcare Education, Improving Rural Water and Sanitation Services, and Future Jobs, among others.

    Under the current country circumstances, it is even more important for development agencies like the World Bank to use programs to create space for citizen engagement and voice. The World Bank was instrumental in setting up a Social Accountability Framework (SAF), which gives voice to citizens at the sub-national and community level. The SAF is one of the few spaces where government, civil society organizations, and donors are collaborating on issues of democracy, citizen voice, and service delivery. 

    Last Updated: Sep 19, 2018

  • The World Bank has supported education projects in Cambodia through Bank-administered programs funded by the Global Partnership for Education as well as other development partners. The programs granted scholarships to students and trained teachers, in addition to building schools and setting up early childhood education programs. By July 2017, 38.51% of children between 3 and 5 years old have enrolled in urban and rural districts where 100 formal and 500 community-based new preschool facilities were provided, 3,861 community early childhood education teachers and mothers have been trained and more than 125,337 students between 3-5 years old directly benefited from project activities.

    Through the Higher Education Quality and Capacity Improvement project, which was completed in September 2017, about 1,000 students received scholarships and 64 public and private professors/staff were able to complete their studies overseas. A total of 45 research grants were issued to support teaching and learning. To find solutions to local problems, 78 overseas programs and 254 local training programs were conducted for more than 10,000 higher education leaders, managers and teachers to improve the quality of Cambodia's education.

    The increasing share of financing from the Royal Government of Cambodia, combined with co-financing from the World Bank and other development partners, has helped to improve coverage and quality of health care services throughout Cambodia. Bank-supported health projects helped to expand the health facility network, supplied medical equipment, financed technical and institutional capacity improvement and provided better sanitation and water quality.

    Each year, the Health Equity Fund (HEF) system now supports free access to over 2 million outpatient visits and approximately 100,000 hospital admissions for the poorest people in Cambodia, nationwide and across all public health facilities in the country. Payments for these services provided to the poor, as well as additional fixed and performance-based grants to health facilities, are deposited electronically and in a timely manner into health facilities’ bank accounts. This has changed the empowerment and accountability paradigm, where resource availability at the most peripheral level of the health system has allowed facility-level decision-making and vital funding for maintenance and repair of equipment and infrastructure and to meet emergency shortages of drugs and consumables.

     The World Bank has also supported improved regulations in the water and sanitation sector. Aligning with government’s decentralization reform agenda, a two-year pilot of decentralized rural sanitation service delivery was implemented in ten districts in two provinces. By June 2017, 24,458 households in the pilot districts gained access to improved sanitation, representing a seven percentage point increase per year. After the pilot, the government decided to increase resources and scaled up the rural sanitation to additional five districts. The Bank also supported the government in the development of a water supply monitoring system to help improve the government’s regulation capability and to encourage water supply operators to improve their services. Data for over half of the 200 water operators in Cambodia are now available in the system.

    In the transport sector, the World Bank-financed Road Asset Management Project (RAMP) helped to rehabilitate some 470 kilometers of Cambodia’s national and provincial road network. As a result, travel time has been reduced from 2 hours to 1.6 hours per 100 kilometers. The project also helped to strengthen capacity in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport in road asset management planning, budgeting and routine and periodic road maintenance.

    Through the Public Finance Management Modernization Project and related activities, the World Bank is helping Cambodia to improve its ability to raise revenues and strengthen its public finance management system. Key achievements include improved revenue generation capacity and debt sustainability rating; use of banking system for government transactions; and the installation of a Financial Management Information System (FMIS) to facilitate improved budget management through more timely, automated payment processes, and accurate and transparent financial reporting that can be used and analyzed by government and other interested stakeholders. The system has been rolled out for all 25 Provincial Treasury Departments.

    Through the Land Allocation for Social and Economic Development Project (LASED), the government had allocated 17,000 hectares of residential and farm land to 5,141 poor and landless families. So far, 2,930 families have received land titles. LASED, which was approved in May 2008 helped ensure better access to services to those most in need, thus improving their livelihoods. Access to land for the poor or landless families has been and continues to be an important aspect of ending extreme poverty. LASED II, which was approved in May 2016, builds on the experiences and lessons learn from LASED and aims to help these families access agriculture extension services, education, and health facilities. 

    Through the Voice and Action Project, the World Bank and other development partners are supporting NGOs to improve the quality of service delivery by Commune Councils, Health Centers, and primary schools. The Implementation Plan for Social Accountability (ISAF) currently cover 75% of Cambodia’s provinces, 62% of districts and 56% of communes. ISAF covers 572 out of 1,191 health centers across the country and 1,422 out of Cambodia’s 7,000 primary schools. It also hires more than 3,650 Community Accountability Facilitators to help mobilize their communities to learn about public services, provide feedback to services providers, and to take action to improve service quality. By the end of 2017, more than 11,280 Joint Accountability Action Plans (JAAPs) were developed jointly between service providers and community members in targeted communes, and 64% of JAAPs’ activities have been implemented to improve public service delivery.

    Last Updated: Sep 20, 2018

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LENDING

Cambodia: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments



PHOTO GALLERY

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In Depth

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Early Childhood Education

In Cambodia, over 1,400 preschools run by communities are helping children aged three to five to study.

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Cambodia’s Health Journey

Cambodia has made great strides in healthcare with maternal and child mortality vastly reduced.

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Dreams Come True for Poor, Landless Farmers

Under a World Bank project, 250 families received land titles. For poor farmers like Khouy Thoeun her dream of owning land has come true.

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Raising Reading Scores in Cambodia

Emerging from years of political turmoil, Cambodia has improved language acquisition, especially in the early school grades.

Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Phnom Penh
Exchange Square Building, No. 19-20, Street 106, Sangkat Wat Phnom, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
Tel: +855 23 261300
Fax: + 855 23 261301-2
cambodia@worldbank.org
Washington
1818 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20433 Tel: +1 202-473-4709
eastasiapacific@worldbank.org