Overview of Australia's aid program to Cambodia

How we are helping

2014/15 Bilateral Outcome
$59.2 million

2015/16 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$62.4 million

2015/16 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$89.0 million

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $89 million in total ODA to Cambodia in 2015-16. This will include an estimated $62.4 million in bilateral funding to Cambodia managed by DFAT.

It is in Australia’s interest to support Cambodia’s development by implementing a complementary set of foreign, trade and aid policies. Through Australia’s aid program we are contributing to greater prosperity in Cambodia and reduced poverty in our region. Our aid complements diplomatic and security efforts to address shared challenges including transnational crime, people smuggling and pandemics.

Over the past two decades, Cambodia has had one of the fastest growing economies in the world, but this growth has come from a very low base. Notwithstanding its strong recent economic growth, Cambodia continues to face major development challenges. Poverty has fallen dramatically - from 53 per cent of the population in 2004 to less than 20 per cent today - but Cambodia remains one of the world’s least developed countries. It was ranked 128 of 168 countries on the basis of Gross Domestic Product per capita in 2012.

About 42 per cent of children under five-years-old are malnourished and stunted, and more than half of Cambodians lack access to toilets and appropriate sanitation. During 2015–18, Australia’s aid investments will prioritise three key objectives: (1) improving access to infrastructure; (2) increasing agricultural productivity; and (3) better health and education. Across all our programs we will focus on inclusive participation, governance, women’s empowerment and disability. Our support will prioritise innovative approaches to delivering aid which work closely with the private sector to drive growth and poverty reduction, and will contribute to achieving Australia’s overall aid for trade target by 2020.

Improving access to essential infrastructure

Improving access to infrastructure is critical to both economic growth and poverty reduction. The centrepiece of Australia’s support will be the innovative 3i: Investing in Infrastructure program, which is working with the private sector to expand access to electricity and piped, treated water in local communities. Our initial analysis suggests that the program will benefit women most as they currently bear the greater burden of water collection and household activities such as cooking, which will be safer and less time-consuming with access to electricity.

Investments for improving access to essential infrastructure in Cambodia

Increasing agricultural productivity and farmer incomes

We will continue our longstanding support for Cambodia’s agricultural sector. The Cambodian Agricultural Value Chain (CAVAC) program provides access to modern farming techniques, lifts productivity and crop quality, and improves the incomes of thousands of farmers. CAVAC is recognised globally as a leading example of aid delivered in collaboration with the private sector.

Over the next four years we will design and implement a new phase of CAVAC to extend the benefits to new crops and more locations. It will include a focus on rice export—a priority for the Cambodian Government. We will maintain our focus on improving the lives of rural women.

Investments for increasing agricultural productivity and farmer incomes in Cambodia

Better health and education outcomes

Continuing to strengthen Cambodia’s health system will be a key priority for our aid program. Poor health holds back economic growth—it lowers workforce participation and reduces workers’ productivity. We will help strengthen Cambodia’s health financing system to improve efficiency, and we will focus on improving the quality of care. We will also tackle the ongoing challenge of poor reproductive, maternal and neonatal health, particularly for women working in garment factories or living in remote communities.

We will continue to support Cambodia’s education sector through our long-running Australia Awards Scholarships program. Since 2004 more than 600 of Cambodia’s most talented people have been awarded scholarships to study in Australia. Many of these scholars have become leaders in government, the private sector and civil society. The Australia Awards Scholarship program builds strong people to people links between our two countries and helps showcase the quality of Australian education in one of Asia’s fastest growing economies.

Investments for better health and education outcomes in Cambodia

Our results

In 2014 the Australian aid program:

  • increased agricultural production and reduced rural poverty through our innovative Cambodia Agricultural Value Chain (CAVAC) program. In 2014-15, CAVAC rehabilitated or constructed six irrigation schemes, which enabled an additional 2,809 hectares of land to be irrigated and 2,767 families to grow more than one rice crop per year.
  • enabled health centres and hospitals to provide better quality health care, and, together with the Cambodian Government and other partners, has ensured 2.6 million of the poorest Cambodians have access to free essential health care.
  • invested in key economic infrastructure including upgrading and maintaining the rural road network, and rebuilding essential transport infrastructure damaged by the 2013 floods.
  • contributed to the clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance from approximately 6.6 square kilometres of land in three provinces, directly benefiting some 13,000 people.
  • remained the third largest contributor to Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (Khmer Rouge Trials).
  • hosted a visit to Cambodia by the Ambassador for Women and Girls in February 2015, highlighting the success of The Ending Violence Against Women initiative.
  • provided 55 new Australia Awards Scholarships, deployed 72 Australian volunteers and continues to support the roll-out of the New Colombo Plan in Cambodia.

Our changing program

The Australia–Cambodia Joint Aid Program Strategy 2010–2015 is in its final year and will be replaced with the Aid Investment Plan 2015-2018. Following years of sustained growth, the new Aid Investment Plan will respond to Cambodia’s rapidly changing economic and social environment. This includes increased attention on economic partnership, closer engagement with the private sector, and promoting innovation in the delivery of our aid. Priority sectors will remain agriculture and rural development, health and education and infrastructure for growth. Across all programs there will be a strong emphasis on promoting women’s empowerment, disability inclusive development and improved governance. We will also maximise impact and cost effectiveness by focusing on fewer, larger investments. The new Aid Investment Plan will see the end of our long running support to Cambodia’s criminal justice system, as we shift towards supporting community based policing.

An irrigation barrier, Campong Chhnang, Cambodia (credit: DFAT).
An explanation of HIVAIDS and how it is transmitted being given by then volunteer Aaron Watson (credit: DFAT).
Mak Moa Nang is a teacher at Krola Primary School. She has been teaching for six years (credit: CARE Australia).