Why Cambodia’s Poverty Statistics Dispute Matters

A recent dispute has shed light on deeper issues in how poverty is assessed in the Southeast Asian state.

How many Cambodians are living in poverty? According to the government’s figures, using income as the only indicator, poverty stands at 13.5 percent, a considerable feat given that it was in the realm of 40 percent only two decades ago. It is also something the government regularly boasts about – indeed, the narrative goes that because the ruling party, the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) led by Hun Sen, which just secured a new term in elections this year, has radically improved living standards, blind eyes should be turned as it becomes more repressive and dictatorial.

However, at the end of September, another figure was put forward in an annual report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. This figure, which took into consideration health, education, and living standards – as well as income – put Cambodia’s poverty rate at 35 percent. About 7 percent of the capital city’s population are in “multidimensional poverty,” the report found, based on data from a few years ago. In some of the country’s poorest provinces, such as Preah Vihear, poverty rises to nearer the 40 percent mark.

Read the full story: https://thediplomat.com/2018/10/why-cambodias-poverty-statistics-dispute-matters/

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