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Country Programme of Cambodia

Cambodia has achieved significant economic development gains at a national level in recent years following two decades of conflict and civil war. However, around 20% of the population remains below the poverty line and economic development has come alongside rapidly increasing inequality. Increasing pressure on natural resources, poor land use and climate variability are eroding rural livelihoods and leading to exacerbated poverty and migration in rural communities. 


Caritas Switzerland’s Cambodia Country Strategy for 2012-2016 addresses the underlying drivers of poverty in Cambodia through focusing on safe migration, child protection, mitigation of trafficking, and through building the resilience of communities to disaster.

Safe migration, child protection and mitigation of trafficking: Lack of education and training and pitifully low wages for those entering the job market is leading to exploitation and migration, with women being the most affected. Women and children are particularly exposed to exploitation, trafficking and unsafe migration. Caritas Switzerland’s anti-trafficking and safe migration programme is providing holistic support for women and children who are at risk of or victims of violence and trafficking. Interventions supported include providing protection, psychosocial support, vocational training, income generation and job placement especially to people at risk of trafficking and unsafe migration.

Building resilience through disaster risk reduction and humanitarian response: Cambodia is among the most vulnerable countries to climate change and there is evidence that floods and drought are having increasing impacts at community level due to poor water management and land use planning, lack of infrastructure and limited institutional capacity to respond. Caritas Switzerland is working with communities in areas particularly prone to flood and drought. The programme supports disaster affected communities to identify and address their vulnerabilities to disaster through community action plans containing social, human, natural, economic and infrastructural. Interventions aimed at strengthening awareness and knowledge about hazards, diversifying and increasing resilience of livelihoods, environmental rehabilitation, and improving infrastructure. Improved water resource management is a key strategy. The programme takes a multi-stakeholder approach by working closely with local government and other support partners. At the same time Caritas Switzerland continues to support humanitarian response and rehabilitation activities for disaster affected communities.

Links between programmes: The impact of disaster and climate change are further eroding livelihoods and exacerbating migration and trafficking. Thus initiatives aimed at increasing community resilience will provide a basis for developing strategies and new activities towards safe migration, and reduced vulnerability to trafficking. At the same time, vocational training and diversifying income opportunities in communities will be a key strategy to increase resilience. Both programme components will address the empowerment of women through improved access to economic opportunities and improved leadership opportunities.

Programme location: Caritas Switzerland’s country programme targets communities most affected by migration and disaster and is situated in the provinces bordering Thailand and Vietnam. Additionally, Caritas Switzerland supports a center for vulnerable girls and adolescents in Phnom Penh.

Methods and approaches: Partnership is central to Caritas Switzerland’s country programme. Through working with local partners, Caritas Switzerland aims to build local capacity and sustainability of the projects. The projects take a conflict sensitive approach to ensure stakeholder relationships are strengthened and resource related conflicts are addressed. Key to the sustainability of the projects is supporting the local partners to link with local government, and to engage in advocacy aimed at creating long lasting changes in governance. At community level working with the community based organizations and groups and enhancing their strength is key to ensure ownership and self-help capacity within the projects.

Short history of Caritas Switzerland presence in country
Caritas Switzerland has supported projects in Cambodia since 2001. Early interventions focused on humanitarian responses to natural disaster and conflict, and on supporting people living with and affected by HIV and AIDs (initially through palliative care and later through nutritional support and self-help groups). In 2012 a new strategy was developed and it was decided to develop programmes within the areas of safe migration and disaster risk reduction while continuing to support humanitarian responses. Since 2012, the country programme in Cambodia has grown and new partnerships have been developed. In 2014, a new Caritas Switzerland office was established with a part-time international representative in Phnom Penh and a local Country Programme Manager was employed. In September 2014 Caritas Switzerland got officially registered as International NGO by the Government of Cambodia.

Country Programme of Cambodia

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