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Long-term development assistance
Cambodia is recovering from almost three decades of war, civil conflict, and economic stagnation. After the defeat of the Khmer Rouge Regime, the country was left with few functioning institutions, government records, or educated citizens. Today, Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy with an elected government. The country has achieved significant development progress since the 1990s by effectively transitioning towards a multi-party democracy, by considerably reducing poverty among Cambodians, and by moving towards a market-oriented economic model.
Steady government reforms and export-led private sector development have made Cambodia a strong economic performer, averaging nearly 10 percent GDP growth between 1998 and 2008. Having weathered the global economic downturn, the Cambodian economy achieved a robust annual growth rate of 7.1 percent in 2011, thanks largely to expanded agricultural production and tourism. In terms of private investment, in 2012 Cambodia moved up five places in the Doing Business Index, ranking 133rd out of 185 countries—right behind India.
The World Bank estimates that Cambodia has achieved the critical Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving poverty by 2010. However, one out of four Cambodians still lives on less than $1.25 a day and the majority of them live in rural areas. Although Cambodia's progress in achieving other MDGs related to health and education is solid, Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in southeast Asia and only ranks 138 out of 187 countries on the United Nations' 2012 Human Development Index.
Cambodians' nutritional standards are particularly low. In fact, nearly 40 percent of Cambodian children remain chronically malnourished and micronutrient-deficient. Cambodia also continues to face environmental challenges related to the effective management of the country's natural resources, as well as serious governance issues, including corruption and allegations of restrictions on dissenting voices and opposition parties.
Cambodia's economy is still based on agriculture and it is in need of increased diversification, efficiency, and competitiveness. The fact that Cambodia continues to import most of its food from neighbouring countries has negatively affected the country's balance of trade over the years. Improving agricultural productivity has been extremely difficult since all forms of private ownership and land titles were destroyed during the war and to this day, Cambodia is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. An estimated four to six million landmines and other unexploded ordnances remain in Cambodia and affect more than half of the country. In total, some 649 square kilometers of the country still need to be cleared of explosives.
Canada's international development program in Cambodia is closely aligned with Cambodia's National Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013 which focuses on promoting good governance and creating an enabling environment for sustainable economic growth, including expanding private sector development, agricultural productivity, land reform, and mine clearance.
The goal of DFATD's Country Program in Cambodia is to reduce poverty through sustainable economic growth and increased food security.
Canada supports efforts to help the rural poor to clear their land of deadly land mines so it can be used for agriculture. Canada also supports the rural poor to gain legal access to land titles using efficient, transparent and participatory community methods. Canada has been a major donor in land administration in Cambodia and has played an active role in the Land Management Working Group.
Canada supports small-scale agriculture efforts through the creation of rural cooperatives, improved agricultural extension services for farmers, and increased farmers' and traders' access to market information. In recent years, and as part of Canada's global Food Aid Convention Commitment, Canada has also enabled extremely vulnerable Cambodians to meet their basic food needs and to better adapt to natural disasters through a combination of Food for Education, Food for Work, and Food Assistance programs. Together, Canada's support for food security efforts have helped increase both agricultural productivity and the amount of safe and nutritious food available to the rural poor in Cambodia.
The Royal Government of Cambodia adheres to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (PDF, 317 KB, 23 pages) and the Busan Partnership For Effective Development Cooperation. With the support of donors such as Canada, the Cambodian Government is increasingly supporting programmatic approaches, as well as the use of national government systems for service delivery. In recent years, the government has considerably improved its transparency and accountability in results reporting through the development of joint development monitoring indicators and the establishment of a publicly accessible international cooperation data base.
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