PHNOM PENH, December 5, 2013 - The World Bank's Country Director for Southeast Asia (for Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand), Ulrich Zachau visited Phnom Penh during December 3-5, 2013 for meetings with senior government officials, development partners, and representatives from NGOs and youth. During his visit, the first in his new capacity as Country Director, Mr. Zachau exchanged views on Cambodia’s development challenges and sought advice from stakeholders on plans to conduct consultations in the months ahead on a two-year Interim Strategy Note (ISN) of the World Bank Group for Cambodia.
Cambodia has exceeded the Millennium Development Goals for poverty reduction, cut poverty by more than half from 53 percent in 2004 to about 20 percent in 2011, and become one of the best global performers in poverty reduction. At the same time, almost 3 million Cambodians were still poor in 2011. Ninety percent of them live in rural areas. The incomes of many Cambodians who moved to urban areas to find jobs have not matched rising rents and prices. Nearly 40 percent of children under the age of five suffer from malnutrition, and 28 percent in the same age group are underweight in 2010. This is Cambodia’s key challenge, and also its key opportunity: to improve the lives of those children and their families and lift them out of poverty.
"I’m here today as the new Country Director for Cambodia to hear your views on Cambodia’s most important development challenges,” Mr. Zachau stated at a meeting with CSO representatives. “I want to seek your thoughts on the best way forward for consultations we plan to hold on our interim strategy for supporting the needs of the poor and vulnerable in Cambodia. When we start our consultations we want to make sure we hear from as many people as possible from across the country.”
The planned Cambodia - World Bank Group ISN will focus on addressing the critical needs of the Cambodian people, especially those who have been left behind as the country's economy has grown.
Mr. Zachau visited the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital and spoke with patients benefiting from the Health Equity Fund that helps poor Cambodians pay for medical care. “Together with the Cambodian people, other development partners, and civil society organizations we will be strengthen our partnersip with Cambodia to find a better path forward for the Cambodian people - especially those children, families and communities held back by unemployment, low incomes, health concerns and lack of job prospects,” Mr. Zachau said. “Education, improved health care, better skills and training, can improve incomes for families and working people. We are committed to building on our historic partnership with the people of Cambodia to help them build a better future.”