Overview of Australia’s aid program to Cambodia
2013/14 Estimated Outcome: $76.7 million
2014/15 Budget Estimate: $79.0 million
Australia is the fourth largest bilateral donor to Cambodia and we have a strong diplomatic relationship, underpinned by our longstanding support for peace and development. A stable and prosperous Cambodia is in Australia’s strategic and economic interests. It is important that Cambodia can contribute to regional economic growth and play an active role in managing trans-boundary issues, such as drug-trafficking, pandemics and transnational crime.
Cambodia has made considerable progress in raising living standards but remains one of the poorest countries in East Asia. About 20 per cent of the population lives in poverty and a similar proportion sit just above the poverty line. While Cambodia has made important strides towards achieving its Millennium Development Goals, huge challenges remain.
Australia is helping Cambodia continue its progress towards being a prosperous, stable and democratic nation in South East Asia. Australian support to Cambodia is targeted at increasing economic growth through investments in infrastructure, health, agricultural productivity and education. The program has a particular focus on reducing violence against women and improving their economic opportunities. Australia is also a long standing partner in strengthening the justice system in Cambodia.
Agriculture and rural development
The Cambodia Agricultural Value Chain program (CAVAC) is increasing the value of rice-based agricultural production and smallholder income in three provinces – Kampong Thom, Kampot and Takeo. CAVAC is constructing and rehabilitating irrigation schemes and providing farmers with access to agricultural inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides and training in modern farming techniques.
Australia also supports a multi-donor project to clear mines and other explosive remnants of war and release cleared land for productive use.
Agriculture and rural development assistance in Cambodia
Australia remains the largest bilateral donor assisting the Cambodian Government to deliver essential health care, particularly to poor and marginalised groups; is partnering with non-government organisations to improve reproductive, maternal and neonatal care in remote provinces; and is supporting a regional HIV/AIDS program.
Health assistance in Cambodia
Improved infrastructure is essential for Cambodia’s economic growth. Australia is supporting the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges and other infrastructure, and our contribution to rehabilitating the railway has enabled frequent freight services to operate between Phnom Penh and the seaport of Sihanoukville.
Infrastructure assistance in Cambodia
Law and justice and violence against women
Australia has provided significant assistance to the law and justice sector in Cambodia through the Cambodia Community Justice Assistance Partnership and is committed to ending the high rates of sexual and domestic violence against women in Cambodia through the Ending Violence Against Women program.
Australia also continues to support the Khmer Rouge Tribunal and contributed $3.25 million in 2014.
Law and justice and violence against women assistance in Cambodia
Disability Rights Initiative Cambodia
Australia is a long-term supporter of disability-inclusive development in Cambodia. Since 2004, Australia has implemented a practical approach to meeting the needs and priorities of people with disability and ensuring they benefit from development projects through its aid program. Australia has consolidated its support for disability-inclusive development into one new single, larger, longer-term program—the Disability Rights Initiative Cambodia.
Disability Rights Initiative Cambodia
Since 1994, over 500 scholarships have been provided for Cambodians to undertake postgraduate study in Australia, with a 94 per cent successful completion rate.
In 2013-14, 55 scholarships were awarded for the 2014 intake (19 for females), 20 for the public sector and 30 for the open category. Five of these Australia Awards Scholarship recipients are also participating in the Australia Awards Leadership Program in addition to their scholarship.
Achieving 50 per cent female awardees continues to be a key challenge for the Australia Awards in Cambodia. Three of the priority sectors for scholarships (agriculture, infrastructure, law & justice) are not traditionally areas that attract high numbers of female applicants. However, the larger barrier is the lower female completion rates of secondary and tertiary education and the cultural barriers for women leaving extended family to pursue education abroad.
Many scholarship graduates occupy a range of senior and influential positions in Cambodia, including 78 senior officials (Deputy Director and above) across 26 national and provincial level government agencies; chancellors and vice chancellors at universities; and CEOs of private sector and civil society enterprises.
The Australia Awards Alumni Association is a productive and supportive partner of the Australia Awards Scholarships with a large and growing membership. In 2013-14, with the support of the Australian aid program, the Association holds a range of professional development and networking activities aimed at enhancing the people-to-people, organisation and institutional linkages created through the scholarships program.
Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID)
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is working in partnership with Australian Volunteers International, Austraining International and Australian Red Cross in delivering the Australian Volunteers for International Development program.
Australian volunteers play a vital role in the fight against poverty. Volunteering overseas is one way that Australians can make a positive contribution to poverty reduction, sustainable development and cross-cultural understanding.
Australian volunteers come from a diverse range of backgrounds and include men and women aged from 18 to 80 years. Australian volunteers have varying professional backgrounds which enable them to work on a range of activities including setting up medical clinics so that women can give birth safely, building stronger homes to withstand natural disasters and helping children with disabilities to get to school.
In 2012-2013, DFAT deployed 171 volunteers to Cambodia; 60 AVID Youth Ambassadors and 111 AVID Volunteers.
- Australia is supporting the Cambodian Government’s second Health Strategic Plan 2008-2015 assisting the Cambodian Ministry of Health to improve health outcomes in Cambodia. In 2014, 84 per cent of births were attended by trained health staff (up from 71 per cent in 2010) and 93 per cent of poor people were able to access subsidised health care services.
- In 2013-14 the Cambodia Agricultural Value Chain program (CAVAC) rehabilitated or constructed seven irrigation schemes. This allowed an estimated additional 3,897 hectares of land to be irrigated which will enable 4,221 families to grow more than one rice crop a year.
- We have contributed to the completion of the trial in Case 1 and the first trial in Case 2 of the Khmer Rouge Trials (the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia).
- 500 women and girls experiencing violence have received counselling, legal aid, medical services or shelter as well as being assisted to reintegrate with their families and communities.
- During 2013, 17.33 square kilometres of land were cleared and released for productive use under the multi-donor Clearing for Results Phase 2 project. Mine clearance operators found and destroyed 4,508 mines and other explosive remnants of war. Landmine casualties decreased from 39 in 2012 to 13 in 2013.
- In 2013-14, 55 scholarships were awarded for the 2014 intake (19 for females), 20 for the public sector and 30 for the open category. Five of these Australia Awards Scholarship recipients are also participating in the Australia Awards Leadership Program in addition to their scholarship.
Agriculture and rural development assistance in Cambodia
Improving productivity in agriculture is vital to reducing poverty and driving economic growth in Cambodia. Australia is improving agricultural productivity and food security by rehabilitating irrigation systems, and improving advice provided to farmers by partnering with a wide range of businesses in the fertiliser, pesticide, seed, milling and media markets.
In 2013-14, the Cambodia Agricultural Value Chain program (CAVAC) rehabilitated or constructed seven irrigation schemes which enabled an estimated additional 3,897 hectares of land to be irrigated and which will enable 4,221 families to grow more than one rice crop per year.
During 2013, 17.33 square kilometres of land was cleared and released for productive use under the multi-donor Clearing for Results Phase 2 project. Mine clearance operators found and destroyed 2,406 anti-personnel mines, 11 anti-tank mines and 2,091 other explosive remnants of war.
Cambodia Agricultural Value Chain Program
$61.3 million, 2010-2015
The Cambodia Agricultural Value Chain program (CAVAC) aims to accelerate growth in the value of agricultural production and smallholder income in Kampong Thom, Kampot and Takeo. To increase their incomes, farmers need to increase the quantity or quality of the rice and vegetables that they produce. To do this they need to understand modern techniques, have more information, and reliable access to inputs such as water, seeds, fertiliser and pesticides, and have better opportunities for selling their produce. CAVAC helps small farmers by working with businesses, the public sector and civil society players who supply key products and services to smallholder farmers. Key public sector stakeholders include the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology (MOWRAM), and Provincial Departments.
CAVAC is funding the construction and rehabilitation of 21 irrigation schemes which will allow an additional 22,600 hectares of land to be irrigated each year, benefitting around 20,600 farming households. These schemes enable farmers to grow up to three crops of rice in a single year, rather than relying on a single crop produced each year in the wet season. In 2013 alone, irrigation infrastructure constructed by CAVAC is estimated to have allowed an additional $21 million of rice to be grown.
After completing construction or rehabilitation of each irrigation scheme CAVAC establishes Farmer Water User Communities (FWUCs) to support sustainable operation and maintenance. To date this includes 19 FWUCs. Support provided to these elected groups of farmers includes capacity building and support for the development of systems for monitoring water usage and fee collection. CAVAC does this work in conjunction with the Provincial Departments of Water Resources and Meteorology (PDWRAMs).
CAVAC tries to devise partnerships and other activities related to agribusinesses and farmer information in which all players benefit from adopting innovations that eliminate the constraints to growth. Over the past four years, CAVAC has worked with over 30 companies in the seed, fertiliser, pesticide, media, milling and export markets. Innovations with the private sector help to improve their business and at the same time help farmers to access better solutions for farming. For example, CAVAC has:
- partnered with 12 fertiliser companies to help ensure retailers and agents of their products give better advice to farmers about what type of fertiliser to use and when. CAVAC helps the companies see the business case for providing better information and develops tailored strategies for each company to help improve the knowledge and skills of staff and agents.
- worked with two companies to conduct media market research and analyse consumption patterns, and another company to produce a television series related to agriculture. As companies see the market size of rural consumers and their tastes, research and production companies can sell their products and support dissemination of farming practice information.
- partnered with a range of seed companies, private producers and associations to help them innovate in seed production, demonstration and marketing practices.
- worked with pesticide companies to help them and their retailers’ boost the knowledge of farmers on the safe use of pesticides, providing benefits to health and yields, and reducing environmental degradation.
Recent monitoring and evaluation work has estimated that by the time CAVAC ends in December 2015, that agribusiness and farmer information activities will have supported 264,000 farming households to improve their yields.
Clearing for Results Phase 2
$10.2 million, 2011-2015
Australia is a longstanding partner of Cambodia in reducing the impact of landmines and other Explosive Remnants of War. Australia has provided around AUD90 million for mine action in Cambodia since 1994.
Australia supports the Clearing for Results (Phase 2) project, which is a multi-donor facility managed by the UNDP in partnership with the Royal Government of Cambodia. This project is helping clear contaminated land, and building the capacity of Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) to better manage, monitor, regulate, and lead the sector.
Over its first three years of operation (2011-13) the project has released 42.69 square kilometres of land for productive use. The project has achieved substantial improvements in cost-efficiency such that the end-of-project land clearance and release target has been increased from 35 to 80 square kilometres.
Clearance activities have focused on the heavily contaminated provinces of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Pailin. This focus is having a real impact, with casualty rates in these three provinces falling steeply over the last few years. Casualties in these provinces fell from 39 in 2012, to 13 in 2013 (66.7 per cent).
The project helped Cambodia complete a Baseline Survey of landmine contamination in 124 target districts in 2013, allowing Cambodia to meet its obligations under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.
Landmines and explosive remnants of war have killed or injured more than 63,000 people since 1979. The thousands of survivors require ongoing assistance to meet their rehabilitation needs. Cambodia has integrated victim assistance into broader national disability policies and planning to ensure disability inclusion across all ministries and sectors. Accordingly, Australia is supporting Cambodia to meet its responsibilities under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) through a separate program—the Disability Rights Initiative Cambodia (DRIC).
Disability Rights Initiative Cambodia
As a post-conflict country, Cambodia is subject to a number of risk factors which can lead to a high prevalence of disability. People with disability face many barriers and lack access to appropriate, quality and affordable healthcare, rehabilitation, education and disability services. These prevent them from full and effective participation in their society. The Royal Government of Cambodia has recognised these challenges and has been taking some important steps to promote, protect and ensure the rights of people with disability in Cambodia. Disability also remains an important part of the Australian Government’s approach to development cooperation. The Australian Government is developing a second disability inclusive development strategy, building on the internationally recognised Development for All: Towards a disability inclusive Australian aid program 2009-2014 strategy.
The Disability Rights Initiative Cambodia (DRIC) is a joint United Nations – Australian aid program to improve quality of life for people with disability in Cambodia. Closely linked to the Royal Government of Cambodia’s overarching strategy for disability inclusion, the program will help ensure ‘people with disability have increased opportunities for participation in social, economic, cultural and political life through effective implementation of the National Disability Strategic Plan.’ It is a 5-year program (2014-2018) with projected budget of AUD$13.1 million.
DRIC is implemented in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The program includes four components:
- Supporting Government implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Supporting Disabled People’s Organisations to raise the voice and protect the rights of people with disability
- Supporting rehabilitation systems strengthening
- Inclusive governance and inclusive community development
Health assistance in Cambodia
Access to health care in Cambodia has improved dramatically over the past decade. For example, the proportion of women giving birth in health facilities has increased from approximately 10 per cent in 2000 to approximately 80 per cent in 2013. However, quality of care remains very low. Despite the dramatic rise in facility delivery and decrease in maternal mortality, neonatal mortality rates remain static at 2005 levels. The health sector is largely unregulated and a major market of informal and low-quality private providers has developed.
Australia’s health program in Cambodia is focused on improving access to quality health services for the poorest Cambodians. We are a leading donor in the health sector and work with the Cambodian Ministry of Health and a range of development partners to tackle these challenges.
Cambodia: Delivering Better Health
$105.8 million, 2007-2017
Through the Second Health Sector Support Program (HSSP2), Australia, in collaboration with the World Bank and other development partners, is providing performance-based funding directly to health centres and hospitals to help them deliver tangible improvements in health services. Through HSSP2 and in partnership with German Development Cooperation, we are also identifying the poorest Cambodians and reimbursing their essential health care costs.
In 2013, we launched Partnering to Save Lives, a unique partnership between CARE, Save the Children, Marie Stopes International, the Australian Government and the Royal Government of Cambodia. Partnering to Save Lives will improve reproductive, maternal and neonatal care, particularly in the four remote north-eastern provinces. Partnering to Save Lives will also provide reproductive health information and services for young women working in Cambodia’s garment factories.
Our programs are delivering great results in a challenging area. Through the combined efforts of the Cambodian Government, Australia and other development partners, the poorest 20 per cent of Cambodians (approximately 2.5 million people) have access to free essential health care. As a result of our joint performance-based funding schemes, health facilities across the country are better equipped and staff are more motivated to work. Midwives are improving their skills, particularly in the remote north-east provinces. With Australian support, vulnerable young women working in twelve garment factories now have access to better reproductive health information and services.
Infrastructure assistance in Cambodia
Infrastructure constraints in Cambodia remain a hindrance to stronger economic growth and undermine other advantages, particularly Cambodia’s location in the heart of a growing region. Despite increasing coverage of transport and energy infrastructure in Cambodia, the increases come from a low base and needs remain high.
Australia’s support for improved transport and energy infrastructure includes programs to rehabilitate Cambodia’s railway and road networks and to extend the reach of electricity networks into rural areas. Australia has also contributed to the rehabilitation and the maintenance of roads, bridges and other infrastructure damaged in the severe floods of 2011 and 2013.
Rehabilitation of Railway in Cambodia Project
$27.1 million, 2009-2015
Australia has supported the Asian Development Bank’s US$143 million project to upgrade the national railway of Cambodia through the Rehabilitation of the Railway in Cambodia Project.
Australia fully met its financial commitments to the Rehabilitation of the Railway in Cambodia Project by the agreed date of December 2013. Regular freight services by rail are now operating between Phnom Penh and the seaport at Sihanoukville. In recognition of the challenges with resettlement, Australia agreed that implementation of the Expanded Income Restoration Program under the project be allowed to continue until at least December 2014.
Under the Project’s Expanded Income Restoration Program, 14 self-help groups have been established covering 469 households. Of these, 298 households have borrowed from their community loan schemes to fund small income-generating activities. In addition, community centres have been built at each of the five resettlement sites and all sites have received infrastructure upgrades.
Cambodia Emergency Flood Rehabilitation Project
$12.6 million, 2012-2017
The Cambodia Emergency Flood Rehabilitation Project, with an initial Australian contribution of $5 million, was initiated in the wake of serious damage to Cambodia’s infrastructure during the severe Mekong region flooding in 2011.
The project is restoring critical public and social infrastructure assets necessary to restore livelihoods and access in affected provinces and securing the social infrastructure services against future flooding. Project works include reconstructing flood damaged national, provincial and rural roads, repairing flood damaged irrigation schemes and strengthening emergency management capacity for natural disasters.
There was again serious flooding in late 2013, affecting different regions to the 2011 floods. Due to the continuing level of need and effective project performance, Australia entered into a second phase of this project, increasing its total contribution to $12.6 million.
Southern Coastal Corridor Cambodia
$10.3 million, 2007-2015
The Southern Coastal Corridor Cambodia initiative, in partnership with the Asian Development Bank, is assisting the upgrading of the Southern Coastal Corridor from Kampong Trach to the Cambodia/Vietnam border and upgrading the border post at Preak Chak. Australian funding will finance consulting services which also include programs on HIV awareness and prevention, and mitigating social and environmental impacts.
The Southern Coastal Corridor Project is on track for December 2014 completion. Construction on the new 15 kilometre road and the agreed road maintenance contracts are complete. The works at the cross-border facility are over 50 per cent complete, with most major structures at more than 80 per cent complete. The original scope of the HIV and Trafficking Awareness and Prevention program has been fully met, with 800 people (of which 70 per cent were women) reached with Program interventions.
Law and justice and violence against women assistance in Cambodia
There has been substantial progress in the legal and judicial sector in Cambodia since 1992 and the first post Khmer Rouge period democratic elections. Political stability and the end of conflict have led to decreases in politically motivated crime and increases in the community perceptions of safety. With the exception of domestic violence there are reductions in officially reported crime. Key legislation has been adopted. NGOs provide important justice service delivery, including legal aid, victim assistance and advocacy. Women and men are entitled to equal rights and status under land and property laws. Crime prevention and community safety is listed amongst Royal Government of Cambodia strategy development priorities.
However indicators suggest that Cambodia remains in the bottom 20 per cent of countries globally for rule of law. Public opinion surveys regularly rank the judiciary as among the most corrupt institutions in the country and significant challenges remain in establishing a fair, transparent and accountable legal and judicial system in Cambodia. There is limited access to justice for many citizens especially vulnerable groups—the poor, survivors of domestic violence and rape, ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities. Violence against women and children remains a major issue. Patronage and corruption are widespread in the system and rent-seeking remains endemic.
Australia works with the police, courts and prisons to strengthen crime prevention and community safety, improve the functioning of the legal system and to improve the human rights conditions in Cambodia’s prisons. We are improving access to the law through the provision of legal aid across the country and supporting Transparency International Cambodia to implement anti-corruption programmes.
Australia is also a major contributor to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia) seeking justice for crimes against humanity committed by former Khmer Rouge officials.
Rates of violence against women in Cambodia are amongst the highest in the region, and act as a significant brake on productivity as well as having a large negative impact on family and community harmony. Australia is contributing to activities to respond to, and prevent, violence against women in Cambodia.
In accordance with the recommendations of a 2012 evaluation and as agreed between the Governments of Australia and Cambodia in 2012, Australia’s assistance to the sector is due to end in mid-2016.
Read the ODE Cambodia Case Study: Evaluation of Australian Law and Justice Assistance (PDF 1.39mb)
Cambodia Community Justice Assistance Partnership
$15 million, 2013-2016
The bulk of Australia’s assistance to the law and justice sector has been through the Cambodia Criminal Justice Assistance Project—now the Cambodia Community Justice Assistance Partnership (CCJAP 1-4). CCJAP has evolved with improvements in the Cambodian legal and judicial environment from a post-conflict recovery program in 1997 to a more targeted program focused on crime prevention and community safety. Total ODA assistance since 1997 is over $60 million.
The final phase of our law and justice sector program focuses on serving the demands of our key government partners where those demands can be linked to a strategic change agenda that is owned and led by the Cambodian Government institutions. The partnership has three end-of-program outcomes: reduced prison overcrowding; safer communities with less crime for women youth and children; and police, courts and prisons use data to support management.
Australia supports International Bridges to Justice to provide legal aid in 18 provinces and aims to prevent or address instances of torture or other inhumane treatment, and to reduce the instance of pre-trial detention. It does this through providing high quality legal aid services to the poor particularly provision of legal counsel for the accused as soon as possible upon arrest.
Anti-Corruption efforts are being funded through an agreement with Transparency International Cambodia (TIC). In cooperation with the Government of Sweden Australia supports the initial three year workplan of TIC based around three core programs—research and advocacy against corruption; partnership and coalition building across civil society, government, media and private sector; and citizen and youth engagement.
Support to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
$26.2 million, 2003-2014
Funding under this initiative contributes to a multi-donor fund supporting the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, a Tribunal to bring former Khmer Rouge alleged perpetrators to justice (the Khmer Rouge Tribunal). The Tribunal is a hybrid structure operating through the United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs (International side of the Court) and the UNOPS (National side of the court). In 2014 Australia provided $3.25 million to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.
Australia has played an active role in supporting the Tribunal in the interests of justice and in pursuit of breaking down the culture of impunity which undermines Cambodia's development prospects.
Our funding has contributed to the completion of the trial in Case 1 and the completion of the first trial in Case 2.
Ending Violence Against Women
Up to $24 million, 2012-2017
In February 2013, the Australian Government announced a major commitment to ending violence against women in Cambodia responding to the high rates of sexual and domestic violence in the country. Under the Ending Violence Against Women (EVAW) program, discrete small scale activities are brought under a coordinated management structure with Australia and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs at its centre.
Australian support through UN Women in 2013 was instrumental in enabling the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to prepare the second National Action Plan to End Violence Against Women, which provides government ownership and direction to donor investments.
Subsequent support focuses on three areas:
- Services—health, pyscho-social counselling, shelter, education and legal services to effectively respond to instances of violence against women.
- Prevention—working with government, civil society and private sector on community and institutional attitudes.
- Justice—working with law and justice institutions to improve policing responses.
These focus areas are underpinned by support for institutional capacity building and coordination as well as Cambodia specific research and evidence to support policy formulation and future programming investments.
During 2013-14, EVAW completed its foundation phase, and in 2014 has been consolidating its approach. During this period, in addition to finalising the Second National Action Plan on Violence Against Women, Australia funded the inclusion of disability and violence against women modules in the 2015 Cambodian Demographic Health Survey and the design and implementation of the first nationwide study into the prevalence of violence against women in Cambodia. In addition close to 500 women and girls experiencing violence have been supported to access counselling, legal aid, medical services and shelter as well as being assisted to reintegrate with their families and communities.
Australia works closely with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs as well as with UN agencies such as UN Women, UN Fund for Population and Development and the World Health Organisation, bilateral partners (Germany) and local and international NGOs such as the Asia Foundation, Hagar and others to deliver its program.