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Data key to helping informal workers

Harrison White / Khmer Times Share:
Informal working family with their ID Poor card and payment card. Supplied

Cambodia’s ID Poor card could prove the key to ensuring vulnerable workers such as those who work in the informal economy such as rubbish scavengers, tuktuk drivers and street sellers do not get left behind. Aid agencies and human rights group have called on the Cambodian government to use verified data sets to properly distribute economic stimulus packages.

Pauline Tamesis, Cambodia’s United Nations Resident Coordinator, said recently,“[If the government] wants to mount a large-scale response [it will] require a ‘whole-of-government’ and a ‘whole-of-society’ approach if we are to effectively overcome the pandemic – data will be instrumental to enabling this approach.”

“The pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing vulnerabilities in social and economic systems, which are in turn amplifying the impact of the pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 are exacerbated for the vulnerable groups already at risk: women, children, youth, the elderly, low-wage and informal sector workers, people with disabilities and underlying illnesses,” she added.

Aid agencies and human rights have recently complained about the Cambodian Governments assistance packages to suspended garment workers and tourism sector employees

In response, Khmer Times spoke with the Ministry of Economy and Finance spokesperson Meas Sok Sensan about how the government will ensure any economic stimulus will go to those most in need. Sok Sensan advised that the government has already set aside $350 million to help vulnerable groups affected by the economic fallout from COVID-19. However, he did not state how much the exact distribution amount to each affected person would be.

“The Royal Cambodian Government has been working with various ministries to develop their response to assist vulnerable and informal workers, during the COVID-19 pandemic. My ministry has been partnering with the Ministry of Planning and exploring the potential use of the national ID Poor card programme as an easy and efficient means of delivering much-needed stimulus,” Sok Sensan said.

The Australian Ambassador Pablo Kang, had previously told Khmer Times that his embassy has been exploring using the same ID Poor programme database to deliver aid to Cambodia’s most vulnerable, suggesting the ID Poor could partner with the embassy and a third-party payment system, to instantly and easily put cash into poor household accounts for basic needs through the pandemic.

“One programme we are planning is how to provide cash transfers to people who are in dire need of funds because they are either out of work or just can’t afford basic goods and services anymore. So there is a system called “IDPoor” in Cambodia that Australia and Germany have previously funded. It has already identified the neediest and most vulnerable households in Cambodia,” Kang said.

“So by using this already established infrastructure we hope to be able to directly inject cash that can be accessed instantly and from remote locations,” Kang added.

Initially commissioned in 2006 by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), with support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), IDPoor has collated a comprehensive database that has now been digitally recorded across both Cambodia’s rural villages and urban zones with more than 550,000 households accounted for.

It has currently captured approximately 2 million of Cambodia’s most poor and vulnerable, providing them with access to social services such as discounted healthcare as well as subsidies for water and electricity costs, scholarships, social land concessions and other services.

low-wage and informal sector workers, people with disabilities and underlying illnesses,” she added.

Aid agencies and human rights have recently complained about the Cambodian Governments assistance packages to suspended garment workers and tourism sector employees

In response, Khmer Times spoke with the Ministry of Economy and Finance spokesperson Meas Sok Sensan about how the government will ensure any economic stimulus will go to those most in need. Sok Sensan advised that the government has already set aside $350 million to help vulnerable groups affected by the economic fallout from COVID-19. However, he did not state how much the exact distribution amount to each affected person would be.

“The Royal Cambodian Government has been working with various ministries to develop their response to assist vulnerable and informal workers, during the COVID-19 pandemic. My ministry has been partnering with the Ministry of Planning and exploring the potential use of the national ID Poor card programme as an easy and efficient means of delivering much-needed stimulus,” Sok Sensan said.

The Australian Ambassador Pablo Kang, had previously told Khmer Times that his embassy has been exploring using the same ID Poor programme database to deliver aid to Cambodia’s most vulnerable, suggesting the ID Poor could partner with the embassy and a third-party payment system, to instantly and easily put cash into poor household accounts for basic needs through the pandemic.

“One programme we are planning is how to provide cash transfers to people who are in dire need of funds because they are either out of work or just can’t afford basic goods and services anymore. So there is a system called “IDPoor” in Cambodia that Australia and Germany have previously funded. It has already identified the neediest and most vulnerable households in Cambodia,” Kang said.

“So by using this already established infrastructure we hope to be able to directly inject cash that can be accessed instantly and from remote locations,” Kang added.

Initially commissioned in 2006, IDPoor has collated a comprehensive database that has now been digitally recorded across both Cambodia’s rural villages and urban zones with over 550,000 households accounted for. Currently capturing almost two million poor and vulnerable with social services, as well as, various subsidies.

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