Maps Aim to Pinpoint Nation’s Poorest Areas

The Ministry of Planning un­veiled a series of maps Wednes­day that it says pinpoints the country’s poorest areas—down to the district and commune level—and will be instrumental in developing policies to help the most needy.

Sik Boreak, a program manager for the UN World Food Pro­gram, said Thursday the maps will be helpful for organizations  such as his own when trying to target areas most in need of aid.

He said the maps will also help aid organizations spend their limited resources more effectively.

Aside from measuring degrees of financial poverty, the color-coded maps also indicate vulnerability to natural disasters, availability of education, and health and nu­trition levels.

The maps are based on analysis of the Cambodia Socio-Eco­nomic Survey of 1997, the Cam­bodia Demographic and Health Survey of 2000, the population census of 1998 and geographical data.

Chou Putheany, deputy director of the Department of Social Planning for the Ministry of Planning, said during her presentation that Cambodia is the first country in Asia to employ the map­ping method—which she refer­red to as small-area estimation technique—to fight poverty. She added that the maps have been used effectively in African nations such as South Africa and Madagascar.

The maps are not wholly accurate at this point, however. Be­cause the data upon which they are based is dated and does not cover some geographical areas, Chou Putheany said the maps should be supplemented with further research by their users.

She mentioned in her speech that the area around Pailin ap­pears to be very poor according to the maps; Pailin, however, is generally considered to be moderately well off. This could be be­cause much of Pailin was not covered in the 1997 socio-economic survey.

Chou Putheany also said that a new socio-economic survey, which should enhance the accuracy of updated maps, will be com­pleted in 2004.

The project was a collaborative effort by the ministries of Plan­ning, Education and Health, the National Committee for Disaster Management, UNWFP, the World Bank and a US company that conducted the 2000 Demo­graphic and Health Survey.

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