Malnourishment and disease deny many children one or both parents, while a struggling rural economy often leaves them hungry. Inadequate education makes their future prospects poor and orphaned children have little hope of pulling out of a cycle of poverty, disease, and lack of education. It is estimated that there are 600,000 orphans in Cambodia.*

A Society under Strain

Born into a country with one of the highest rates of child prostitution, domestic violence and child labour, Cambodian children are among the most deprived, exploited and abused in the world.

Access to health care, especially in the rural provinces, is inadequate. Where available, the cost for many remains beyond reach. A third of Cambodian children are malnourished, and one in eight dies before their fifth birthday, largely due to causes normally preventable elsewhere.

Widespread poverty means that children whose parents die or are very sick, often are unable to be looked after in their own community. Children turn to the streets, rubbish dumps, begging and the child sex trade to survive

Literacy levels are low across all sections of society and access to education, especially beyond primary school, is limited for many Cambodian children. Government schools, although officially free, remain outside the means of many of Cambodia’s poor. Children are often required to help support the extended family unit by earning an income or supervising younger siblings, and for them education is a distant dream.

The current food crisis and financial crisis being seen all over the world will only make problems worse and it is expected that vulnerabilities among children and youth will drastically increase in the coming years.

* Sources: Unicef 2007, WHO, National Statistics Cambodia

Quick Health Facts
As one of the poorest countries in the world, Cambodia has a high incidence of disease including, AIDS, Malaria, Typhoid & Hepatitis. Under 5 mortality rate at 15% (154/1000) is at least 2x WHO targets (WHO)
First recorded in Cambodia in 1991, estimates of infection vary, but by 2005 the number of cases had reached 250,000. Now Cambodia has one of the highest incidences of HIV per head in Asia.
1/3 of children < 5: moderately or severely underweight* and the same number fail to achieve normal growth height and weight.
Multi-drug resistant malaria is a rising concern. Often under-reported, over 80,000 new cases of malaria infection were reported in 2009* (WHO)


View Koh Kong and Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia in a larger map