Cambodia improves human development Index

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Cambodia’s improvements on human development are the biggest in the region, but standards of living still lag behind neighboring nations, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) figures have shown.
 
The UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) in 2015, which was published yesterday, showed Cambodians’ health, education and standards of living made the highest increase rate in East Asia and the Pacific at a rate of 1.84 percent, outpacing the regional average of 1.35 percent.
 
However, Cambodia’s 2015 HDI value of 0.563 was still below the average for East Asia and Pacific countries, which stood at 0.721.
 
Cambodia ranked 143 out of 188 countries in its 2015 HDI rankings, putting it in the medium human development group. The group also includes Laos, which ranked 138, and Myanmar, which ranked 145.
 
The HDI calculates citizens’ life expectancy, education and per capita income indicators. This is then used to rank a country into four tiers of human development.
 
Higher scores indicate longer lifespans, improved education levels and a higher per capita GDP.
 
“We celebrate the gains that the country has achieved, but we are looking ahead at strategic ways in addressing the remaining challenges that impede human development,” Nick Beresford, country director of UNDP in Cambodia, said in a statement.
 
Cambodia’s improvement was also reflected in its Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) rankings, which declined compared with 2011.
 
Its MPI decreased from 0.211 in 2011 to 0.150 in 2014, while “the headcount ratio of people in multi-dimensional poverty declined from 46.8 percent to 33.8 percent within the same period.”
 
Life expectancy rates measured at birth also improved compared with 1995.
 
“Cambodia’s life expectancy at birth increased by 15.2 years, mean years of schooling increased by 2.0 years, expected years of schooling increased by 4.2 years and its GNI [Gross National Income] per capita increased by about 277.9 percent,” the statement read.
 
The findings were released as part of the UNDP’s Global Human Development Report 2016 launch in Sweden. In line with this year’s theme of “Human Development for Everyone,” the statement said some of the most marginalized communities are still being left behind, despite improvements being made.
 
“The crux of the UNDP’s work in Cambodia is that no one gets left behind. We continue to support the Royal Government of Cambodia in achieving their Sustainable Development Goals,” Mr. Beresford said.
 
“We want to ensure that over the years, more and more Cambodians experience significant changes in their well-being. And that human development truly is for everyone,” he added.
 
According to the World Bank data on Cambodia, which was updated in September 2016, the country attained its lower-middle income nation status, with a GNI per capita of $1,070, in part due to the garment, construction and services sectors.  Poverty was also on a downward trend, albeit at a slower pace. In 2012, 17.7 percent of Cambodians were living in poverty, almost 90 percent of whom lived in rural provinces.
 
The country has halved poverty rates since 2009, helping achieve a millennium development goal, although many of the families exiting the category were only doing so marginally.
 
“The vast majority of families who escaped poverty were only able to do so by a small margin, thus around 8.1 million people are near-poor,” the World Bank said.
 
Cambodia’s population in 2013 was 15.14 million, which means more than half the population is living hand to mouth.
 
World Bank stats also showed, however, that healthcare and access to resources in Cambodia remained a widespread problem. It said 32 percent of children under five were stunted, while a whopping 79 percent of Cambodians – about 12.3 million – did not have access to a piped water supply.
 
Fifty-eight percent, or 9.3 million, Cambodians also lacked access to improved sanitation as of 2015. While the country made good strides in maternal health, it noted that early childhood development and primary education programs in rural areas were still lacking.
 
“In spite of these achievements, Cambodia still faces a number of development challenges, including weak public service delivery, which impede inclusive development, ineffective management of land and natural resources, environmental sustainability and good governance.
 
“Underlying the quality, adequacy and efficiency of public services is the ability of the government to generate additional revenue for important public spending and investment requirements, to spend the available resources efficiently and accountably and to ensure timely commitments and payments for the operation of vital public services and public investment,” the World Bank said.

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