Last updated: April 2017
Following more than two decades of strong economic growth, Cambodia has attained the lower middle-income status as of 2015, with gross national income (GNI) per capita reaching US$1,070. Driven by garment and tourism exports, Cambodia has sustained an average growth rate of 7.6 percent in 1994-2015, ranking sixth in the world. According to preliminary estimates, economic growth slightly eased to 6.9 percent in 2016, compared to 7 percent in 2015. However, it is expected to remain strong over the next two years as recovering tourism activity coupled with fiscal expansion compensate for some moderation in garment exports and construction growth.
Poverty continues to fall in Cambodia, albeit more slowly than in the past. In 2014, the poverty rate was 13.5 percent compared to 47.8 percent in 2007. About 90 percent 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 were only able to do so by a small margin, thus around 4.5 million people are near-poor.
Health and education remain important challenges and development priorities for Cambodia. 33 percent (or approximately 0.5 million) of children under five are stunted. While net enrollment in primary education increased from 82 percent in 1997 to 97 percent in 2016, at lower secondary completion rates at 43 percent in 2013 are significantly below the average for lower middle-income countries. 79 percent of Cambodia’s population (12.3 million people) do not have access to piped water supply and 58 percent (9.3 million people) do not have access to improved sanitation (2015).
Cambodia has made good strides in improving maternal health, early childhood development, and primary education programs in rural areas. The maternal mortality ratio per 100,000 live births decreased from 472 in 2005 to 161 in 2015, the under-five mortality rate decreased from 83 per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 28.7 per 1,000 in 2015.
In spite of these achievements, Cambodia still faces a number of development challenges, including good quality public service delivery impeding inclusive development, 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 enhancing economic diversification and export competitiveness, but also on improving the quality of public service delivery to be accompanied by enhanced allocation and use of public financial resources and human resources