A bicycle is Cambodia’s cheapest mode of transportation, a slower and more laborious alternative to the zippy motorbikes that dominate Phnom Penh.
But even a bicycle, costing $20 or more at market, remains out of reach for Cambodians who can’t afford one to send their farm products to market, or their children to a faraway school.
In Takeo province, 38 percent of residents lack bicycles. Eighty percent lack motorcycles and 94 percent lack electricity, according to a new database that contains the most detailed information yet on development in Takeo.
With the publication of the 2002 Commune Database, Takeo now has “adequate, clear data that official, especially the newly elected commune councils, can use to push for local development,” Governor Kep Chutema said.
The database for Takeo and other provinces is being funded by the government and the UN Development Program under the Partnership for Local Governance, which aids in decentralization. It includes detailed information under 81 criteria on population, education, health, water, agriculture and migration for each of Takeo’s 100 communes.
Readers can learn, for each commune, the number of students per teacher; the number of health workers, traditional doctors, cattle or pigs; and a commune’s distance to markets, schools or health centers, among other information.
Previously, the province relied on a mix of data from police, planning and provincial authorities, Kep Chutema said. “Now we have a common database, so there will be no dispute between the three authorities.”
Srey Proeung, chief of Trapaing Sap commune in the Bati district of Takeo, said the data will be useful.
“If there’s no clear socio-economic data, we won’t develop in the right direction. When we have numbers for what we have and what we lack, it will be easier for the commune authority to seek aid from the higher officials or from any other donors to support our plan.”
Blessed with a market at its center, Trapaing Sap is the richest of Bati’s communes, with 1,461 bicycles, 911 motorbikes and 1,156 televisions, according to the database.
But the commune still needs at least 100 wells to ensure that the population has access to clean drinking water, Srey Proeung said.
In July and August, commune councils around the country are scheduled to formulate their five-year development plans.