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Policy, Advocacy and Communication


situation Over the last decade, significant progress has been made in realising children’s rights to health, education, social protection and gender equality in Cambodia. As a result, some of Cambodia’s Millennium Development Goals are on track. However, multiple challenges hinder the efforts to achieve these goals with equity. The rapid inflation of food prices and the global economic downturn have eroded the purchasing power of households, resulted in loss of jobs and incomes and have negatively affected nutrition and overall child well-being. Migration and urbanisation pose challenges to equitable access to essential services. Natural disasters have intensified and have affected thousands of livelihoods, on the backdrop of a very limited capacity of the population to adapt to change. The challenge in achieving Cambodia’s Millennium Development Goals with equity is compounded by high levels of child poverty and deprivation in Cambodia. Over 1.7 million children under 18 are reported to be living in income poverty and 64 per cent of children experience two or more forms of deprivation – from food, nutrition, health, water and sanitation, shelter, education or information. These figures could be even higher in the aftermath of the 2008/2009 global economic crisis. The widening gap between the rich and poor is increasing barriers to services for Cambodia’s poorest and bringing conditions for the lowest wealth group well below Cambodia’s Millennium Development Goal targets. Significant disparities and inequities exist between wealth groups and for those living in remote areas and in marginalised groups. These disparities and inequities are increasing. UNICEF’s Policy, Advocacy and Communication programme responds to the challenge of addressing the high levels of child poverty, deprivation and persistent inequity in Cambodia, and improving the programming environment for children’s social protection. It helps to develop policies, plans, budgets and social protection programmes that are based on real evidence, and promote child well-being and address child poverty and disparities across the country. The programme does this by strengthening national data management systems that are relevant to children, improving analysis and reporting, and using and sharing findings through various communication channels and modalities. UNICEF contributes to strengthening national systems of analysis and planning across sectors, leading to the creation of a comprehensive package of social protection measures for the poorest families and children in Cambodia.


Child disparities in achieving Cambodia’s Millennium Development Goals Child health: Children under five and in the poorest 20 per cent of the population are three times more likely to die than children of the same age in the richest 20 per cent. Child nutrition: Children born to mothers in the poorest households are more than twice as likely (35 per cent) to be underweight than children born to mothers in the richest households (16 per cent). Maternal health: Children born in urban areas (86 per cent) are twice as likely to be delivered in a health facility as children born in rural areas (48 per cent). Only 34 per cent of women with no education deliver in a health facility, as compared with 75 per cent of women with a secondary education or higher. Basic education: Transition rates for children entering lower secondary education are higher in urban areas (94.5 per cent) than in rural areas (77.4 per cent). This disparity increases in higher secondary education, with 92.9 per cent and 65.7 per cent respectively. Dropout rates for lower secondary school are almost twice as high in rural areas than urban areas. Water and sanitation: Only 25 per cent of the rural population has access to sanitation, compared to 78 per cent in urban areas. Social protection: Social protection coverage in Cambodia is roughly 44 per cent of all eligible poor. Children, pregnant women and the elderly in particular remain largely untargeted by social protection interventions, yet they are the most vulnerable.

key partnerships UNICEF works in partnership with the government and a number of specialised agencies. The main partners of the Policy, Advocacy and Communication programme are: • National Institute of Statistics (Ministry of Planning) • Cambodia National Council for Children • Supreme National Economic Council • Ministry of Economy and Finance • Council for Agricultural and Rural Development’s Social Protection Coordination Unit The Policy, Advocacy and Communication programme contributes to national coordination efforts through the Technical Working Group on Planning and Poverty Reduction, led by the Ministry of Planning, co-facilitated by the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office and the World Bank, and the interim Technical Working Group on Safety Nets and Social Protection. UNICEF also collaborates with other UN agencies, and national and international development partners.

Sources: Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey, 2010; Education Management Information System, 2009/2010; Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey, 2009.


Supporting quality research and analysis for children’s rights There is currently a lack of reliable information on key child rights indicators in the social sectors and child-relevant programmes in Cambodia. Data analysis and planning that focuses on equity is used insufficiently in public sector policies, plans and budgets and in poverty reduction strategies and plans. There is also limited participation of women and children in research and local and national decision making. With Cambodia’s children of today turning into a large labour force, investments in their health, education, protection, lifeskills and employability are a prerequisite for the country’s sustainable and equitably shared development. As such, child, adolescent and youth participation should also be factored into decision-making processes. Recording evidence from experiences in the field is vital to influencing policy and planning at the national level, as well as promoting appropriate knowledge, attitudes and behaviour at the community level. UNICEF works to strengthen the capacity of the Government to generate and use child-relevant data and evidence to inform socio-economic development policy to improve outcomes for children from investments and interventions in basic social services.

What we do Support innovative and participatory approaches to generate evidence from field experiences. Strengthen national data management and evaluation systems to be child sensitive with a focus on equity. Strengthen national knowledge management systems which keep track of the situation of children and the attainment of children’s rights. Support the dissemination of relevant child-focused information to inform national policy formulation, planning and decision-making processes. Strengthen national capacity in participatory research to increase the level and quality of participation as a process, a principle and a right.

Impact Improved government capacity at the national and subnational levels to engage in quality research and analysis, together with rights-holders, is leading to an increase in evidence-based policy-making and reforms. Meanwhile, publication of the Child Tracker Bulletin, which aims to monitor the current situation of children, is helping to promote the development of timely, responsive national policies and measures to address hindrances to a full realization of children’s rights. Better coordination of data collection activities and analyses is leading to greater efficiency and improved quality of statistics. The National Institute of Statistics has further established its role as the national provider of statistics, creating a comprehensive management information system covering key indicators on children’s rights. Moreover, the Social Protection Research Fund is helping to promote relevant, strategic and cost-effective research practices on social protection issues. This is stimulating a climate to attract and motivate quality researchers to bring evidence of chronic, transient and emerging vulnerabilities to the attention of the government so that appropriate national and sub-national responses can be formed.


Strengthening child-sensitive programming and policy formulation While capacity levels of the Cambodian Government to deal with poverty reduction have increased over the past decade, the structural causes of poverty are not being adequately addressed through policies and development interventions. Among others, there is limited coverage and coherence in approaches to social protection and limited negotiation and harmonisation of budgets to meet social needs. Furthermore, national data management systems in Cambodia are not properly resourced and data is not consistently used to inform decision-making in poverty reduction and sectoral policies. This includes the recommendations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which are not adequately responded to, such as adequate resourcing of the social sectors and child-focused programmes. In recent years, Cambodia has seen a decline in investments in the social sectors compared to overall investments, as well as a decline in budget allocation for the social sectors within the overall budget. Declining shares of social sector budgets – at a low of less than 0.5 per cent of GDP in 2010 – need to be reprioritised in favour of human and social development in order to strengthen the human capital base towards a sustained recovery and development. UNICEF works with the government to ensure that national policy dialogue and formulation in areas relevant to children’s rights are based on policy impact and budget analysis, and backed by adequate resources. Our work supports country-led monitoring, research and evaluation to inform strategic decisionmaking, and periodic analysis of the situation of children and women’s rights. Strategic communication for achieving sustainable social change is an important strategy for this work.

What we do Support the development and implementation of a child and gender-sensitive approach to social budget analysis to achieve more equitable outcomes for children and families. Assist with regular monitoring of social budgets and analyse how they relate to child outcomes, for example their health, educational levels, access and participation in decision-making. Support strategic and programmatic choices for designing, implementing and resourcing child-sensitive social protection programmes and packages. Support the analysis of laws and economic and social policies to assess their impact on children’s well-being in order to inform national policy, budget formulation and monitoring and reporting on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Support child-centred social protection programmes towards promoting resilience and coping strategies and reducing child poverty and deprivation.

Impact In coordination and partnership with the Cambodia National Council for Children, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and UNICEF, a Child Budgeting Initiative has set a strategic departure point to develop and implement a framework for national capacity development in child responsive budgeting. UNICEF has supported the Cambodia National Council for Children to publish a quarterly Child Tracker Bulletin as an advocacy tool to monitor and report on the current situation of children in order to better inform the timely development of responsive national and sub-national policies to address issues faced by children in realising their rights. Moreover, implementation of the Child Budgeting Initiative is helping to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and other key social ministries, in budget planning and budget expenditure review and analysis of children’s issues, as well as enhancing awareness about the relevance of child responsive budgeting among key stakeholders at both the national and sub-national levels. Through participation and dialogue among policymakers and various stakeholders, this child rights approach to budgeting will lead to the adequate and effective allocation of financial resources, in turn, improving the situation of children in Cambodia.


Strengthening national capacity for social protection The recent global financial crisis has had a significant impact on the real economy in Cambodia. The impact of any such crisis is likely to be most severe for the poor and vulnerable, who lack the means to cope with risks as a result of persistent poverty. As such these groups are usually the first to suffer through loss of jobs and income and a resulting deterioration in standards of living. Cambodia currently lacks a social protection system to help mitigate these negative effects as well as helping to ease some of the other persistent challenges that the country faces. In response to the effects of the recent series of crises on employment, income and health outcomes, and recognising the need for long-term and sustainable capacity to respond to and prevent damage to socio-economic security caused by the crises, the government embarked on the development of a national social protection strategy. The strategy aims to put in place a set of measures to address poverty and vulnerability that will establish an affordable, comprehensive and sustainable system of social protection in Cambodia. Despite approval of the social protection strategy in 2011, the institutional capacity of the government to further develop, roll out and coordinate the strategy remains weak. There is an immediate need to promote informed discussions and knowledge sharing among key stakeholders, including those from research agencies, NGOs, academia and other civil society groups. UNICEF, in collaboration with other key partners, provides assistance to enhance the quality of policymaking by learning from new research initiatives promoting evidence-based policy and programme formulation. UNICEF supports ongoing efforts to strengthen the national social protection system in Cambodia, advocating for longerterm measures to strengthen the overall system and ensuring that prevention and child-sensitive elements play a major role, given the high levels of child poverty and deprivation.

What we do Support the government to formulate policies and design programmes in support of social protection efforts. Assist the government to develop capacity to secure adequate investments for basic social services and social protection. Support analysis of the child poverty impact of social investments. Continue to support the Social Protection Research Fund to stimulate debate and dialogue to maintain an active social protection research agenda. Support the development and implementation of a social protection communication and knowledge management strategy to promote relevant and effective social protection measures in Cambodia.


Impact The Cambodian Government has paid special attention to social protection as a comprehensive measure to ensure longterm socio-economic development and to respond to crises. With UNICEF support, a child-sensitive approach has been well integrated into the country’s first National Social Protection Strategy and the key social protection packages required to address child poverty and vulnerability. This is reflected in the inclusion of age specific risks and vulnerabilities and a life cycle approach that bridges social protection provision, through transfers and services, at critical junctures in a child’s life to ensure a continuous stream of services to comprehensively address child poverty, deprivation and vulnerability. Early intervention programmes to reduce vulnerabilities are underway, such as a pilot cash transfer programme on maternal health and nutrition for children under two, as well as prioritization of reaching vulnerable groups within the social protection sector, including through the expansion of the Health Equity Fund for poor households. A system to identify poor households, known as IDPoor, is now being used to determine households who are poor, as well as their level of poverty. The data collected is being used to estimate the comparative poverty levels of villages, communes, districts and provinces. Service providers—government institutions, commune councils and NGOs—are also effectively using this data to target poorer communes or villages, as well as individual households to help lift them out of poverty and protect them from shocks, such as serious illness or crop failure, which may lead them deeper into poverty. IDPoor is now an integral part of the Government’s National Social Protection Strategy 2011-2015.


UNICEF Cambodia P.O. Box 176, Phnom Penh Tel: +855 (0)23 426 214 e-mail: phnompenh@unicef.org

www.unicef.org/cambodia All photos by: UNICEF Cambodia/Nicolas Axelrod | Designed by Quinin Lab: www.quininlab.com

UNICEF Cambodia Country Kit: PAC 2011-2015  

Over the last decade, significant progress has been made in realising children's rights to health, education, social protection and gender e...

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