The United Nations Development Programme yesterday released a report analysing different methods of lifting Cambodia’s rural poor out of poverty.
The report explored the possibility of so-called “graduation packages,” which consist of a combination of cash payments, vocational training and transfers of productive assets.
Stephanie Levy, author of the report and a lecturer at the London School of Economics, said cash transfers alone could not reduce poverty, but combined with other interventions, such as transfers of productive assets and vocational training, would be more effective.
“A transfer of productive assets could lead to larger consumption gains for extreme-poor households, and should therefore be considered as an efficient intervention in the design of a comprehensive social protection floor,” she said.
According to the UNDP report, Cambodia has experienced a rapid drop in poverty rates since 2004, mainly due to sustained rural development. About 90 percent of the poor live in the countryside.
Poverty incidence in Cambodia has fallen quickly and consistently over the past decade, from an estimated 53 percent in 2004 to less than 13.5 percent in 2014, according to recent World Bank data.
However, even though they might not be counted as poor according to the national poverty line, millions of Cambodian households remain highly vulnerable to financial shocks and in need of social protection.
Nick Beresford, country director of UNDP Cambodia, said the report offers insights into a set of models and policies that aim to address poverty and vulnerability by providing productive assets instead of cash transfers alone to poor working-age households.
“These aim to secure productivity gains, enabling the poor to help themselves to secure a lasting exit from poverty,” he said.