A mid-term review of the Asian Development Bank’s five-year strategy and program for poverty alleviation in Cambodia has revealed a poorer than expected performance.
According to a synopsis of the review posted on the ADB Web site Tuesday, the overall performance of the ADB’s plan for Cambodia was below expectations during the review period from 2005 to 2007.
The number of ADB projects has increased and yet the disbursement of funds for those projects remains far below projections, it said.
According to the review, the gap between rich and poor in Cambodia has increased and the severity of poverty-related problems is being felt most in rural areas.
ADB Country Director Arjun Goswami said Tuesday that the poor performance was “worrying.”
Supervision by government ministries of the flow of funds between the ADB and the projects they were intended for needs improvement, he said.
The inequality between rural and urban areas in Cambodia, however, has stabilized in the last few years, Goswami said.
From 1994 to 2004 the percentage of people living in poverty—defined by the World Bank as those living under around $0.50 per day— fell from 43 percent to 34 percent of the population in rural areas. In Phnom Penh the poverty rate reduced from 11 per cent to 5 percent in the same period.
Tim Conway, senior poverty specialist with the World Bank, said one reason for the slow progress with rural poverty was that economic growth in Cambodia was concentrated too much in the primarily urban-based garment and tourism sectors.
“A number of reviews, including a 2003 World Bank survey found that the main thing holding back broad based economic growth at present is governance related issues,” he added.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, chairman of the National Assembly banking and finance commission, said farmers constitute 80-85 percent of the rural population and a bad crop one year is enough to push many of them into poverty.
(Additional reporting by Thet Sambath)