Strengthening Social Protection in Cambodia – Khmer Times
Lay Kosal and her husband, Sou Channunh, earn most of their annual income during the palm harvest season. Once the season is over, their household income drops and their daily life becomes more difficult.
Households identified by IDPoor, Cambodia’s national poverty identification system, can use their equity cards to access various social benefits, including free health services, cash payments and other subsidies. These offer a lifeline to families like Lay Kosal’s, who sometimes struggle to make ends meet and are vulnerable to the effects of economic shocks, natural disasters or health emergencies. “Having the IDPoor card made our life easier,” explains Lay Kosal. “If I didn’t have one, it would cost me money every time I went to the doctor with my kids.”
Since its inception in 2007, IDPoor has become the cornerstone of social protection in Cambodia, helping to ensure that a growing range of benefits reach the households and individuals who need them most. From the beginning, GIZ, on behalf of the German government and later also the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), supported its partners in the IDPoor department of the Department of Planning. Cambodia’s poverty identification system is now implemented nationwide. By June this year, 692,000 households had been registered in the IDPoor database and received equity cards. This represents 2.73 million people, or about 18% of the Cambodian population.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the Cambodian economy, and therefore to the livelihoods of many people. But the crisis also served as a testament to the continued investment in the country’s social protection system, as the Cambodian government was able to rapidly use IDPoor at scale to provide more than $740 million in social assistance to millions of people.
Capturing information from the pandemic, the IDPoor system has been revised to allow adding, deleting and updating households through on-demand procedures performed by commune/sangkat councils. This enables data-using organizations to design programs based on up-to-date data. The growing recognition of IDPoor is reflected in the number of projects using data, which increased from 42 organizations in 2012 to 181 in 2020. Since 2021, efforts have also been made to upgrade the overall IT architecture, improve the accuracy and quality of the captured data.
Going forward, building on the success of IDPoor to make the country’s social protection system more responsive to shocks is a key priority. While IDPoor has always focused on identifying extremely or moderately poor households, there is a significant population in Cambodia that is vulnerable to falling into poverty in the event of misfortune or shock. HE Samheng Boros, Minister to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State in the Ministry of Social Affairs said: “Every year we have a big flood. People are scattering across the country.
Many are fleeing their homes. We have to find them to bring them help. But if you can’t find them, if you don’t know who they are, you can’t help them. Currently, German Development Cooperation is supporting the Cambodian government to identify households at risk of falling into poverty and register them in the IDPoor database, so that they can receive adequate and timely social assistance. in case of shock.
- Key words: German Unity Day, IDPoor