NGO Survey Details Ongoing Rural Poverty

A new NGO-conducted survey of 1,000 Cambodian households in 40 rural villages paints a picture of persistent poverty with insufficient food and widespread land conflict.

The survey, coordinated by the NGO Forum, is an assessment of the last nationwide Poverty Reduction Strategy formulated by the government in March 2003.

Conducted by eight local NGOs, Star Kampuchea and the Cam­bo­dian NGO Alliance for Co­op­era­tion, the surveyors targeted Banteay Meanchey, Prey Veng, Kompong Speu, Kandal and Kampot provinces, NGO Forum coordinator Ek Siden said Monday.

The survey found that 65 percent of those questioned reported having more income than 2003 but 60 percent of households still had income of less than $30 a month.

Households were defined as having six people, so this equals $5 per individual per month or 17 cents a day.

On the positive side, 66 percent of households surveyed were consuming more food than in 2003.

But despite this, 45 percent said they had not enough rice and 44 percent said they did not have enough vegetables. Seventy-one percent of households had insufficient fruit and 60 percent had in­sufficient fish.

“The households interviewed for this survey indicate overwhelmingly that they rarely have sufficient amounts of any food type,” the survey report states.

“These figures, although perception-based, are somewhat alarming,” it added.

Of those households that had greater income, only 11 percent said the increased income was due to the actions of the Cambodian government.

Villagers’ evaluation of government programs was positive on road building but they were largely dissatisfied with irrigation im­provements.

On the issue of land ownership, 55 percent said their land was in dispute.

“It is difficult to disagree with the government survey, but our survey, it not a representation of the whole country…but it shows some differences,” Ek Siden said.

“Improvements still appear to be very slow,” he added.

The survey’s release on Friday comes as the Ministry of Planning and major donors are finalizing a new National Strategic Development Plan for 2006 to 2010, to be submitted to the Council of Ministers in December.

In the new draft plan, Ministry of Planning data indicates that 35 percent of Cambodians are living below the national poverty line of $0.40 to $0.59 a day.

According to the data, poverty has dropped in accessible rural areas from 39 percent to 28 percent in 10 years, but in inaccessible rural areas the number living below the poverty line remains around 46 percent.

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