Have you ever heard about ADB Essay Contest? Do you know what the topic is? Have you joined such competition?
To me, yes, I have.
I am not the winner. Anyway, I just want to share mine to you. Feel free to read.
ADB’s Development Impact In Cambodia And
Possible Areas Of Future Cooperation
It is just like a blink of an eye. Suddenly, more than thirty years after the Khmer Rouge regime has been passed away. With the support of other countries and the effort of Cambodian’s Government and the people living in Cambodia, many things have been changed and solved through the development both in rural and urban area. The support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is one part of Cambodian’s developments in term of economic and social development. However, even so, there are still some issues that Cambodian’s Government has to deal with and need many kinds of support from ADB.
In fact, according to the ADB Country Partnership Strategy (Cambodia) published on November 2014, the Rectangular Strategy for Growth, Employment, Equity and Efficiency, Phase III (RSIII) provides the development policies from 2013 to 2018 which covers good governance, agriculture, physical infrastructure, private sector development and employment, capacity development and human resources development and creation of a conducive environment for the RSIII. As known, according to ADB member fact sheet published on April 2016, since joining the ADB in 1966, ADB has been supporting Cambodian’s Government on many areas such as on the development of physical infrastructure, education, public sector management, the private and finance sectors, and the management of agriculture and natural resources. Cambodia has received $2.65 billion in ADB lending, grants, and technical assistance since then. Precisely, between 2010 and 2014, 96,000 rural households with access to improved water supply; almost 50,000 households with new or improved sanitation; 330 kilometers of new or upgraded power transmission lines, connecting 40,000 rural households to lower-priced electricity; and 621 kilometers of new or upgraded roads, improving access to markets and social services were helped to provide by ADB according to the face sheet above. In term of education system, more than 200,000 secondary school students benefit from new or improved educational facilities. Around 200 teachers were trained to higher competency standards. Therefore, many sectors have been supported to Cambodia and due to such support, there are many changes.
Where ADB still keeps support the Cambodian’s Government, there are three main pressing development issues facing Cambodia today. Those are firstly the national reconciliation related to Khmer Rouge regime, a job opportunity for beggar and homeless people who are an elder people and old people with disability living in Phnom Penh and lastly the circulation of foreign currency in Cambodia.
The first main issue is about the national reconciliation in the context of an establishment of Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC or Khmer Rouge Tribunal) and Non-Judicial Measure (Reparation Projects). According to Estelle Bockers, Nadine Stammel and Christine Knaevelsrud, one quarter of Cambodian population was killed during Khmer Rouge regime due to malnutrition, overwork and mass killings. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and feelings of anger and revenge still keep existing in the Cambodian postconflict society. Therefore, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has been established and is currently handling four cases: Case 001 (Kaing Guek Eav alias Duch), Case 002 (Khieu Samphan & Nuon Chea), Case 003 (Meas Muth) and Case 004 (Im Chaem, Yim Tith & Ao An). Besides ECCC, many Non-Government Organizations such as Kdei Karuna Organization, Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP), and Meta House in collaboration with Khmer Arts Action and Youth for Peace have created many non-judicial reparation projects in the purpose of national reconciliation. Even so, there are some issues that ADB could support too.
The second issue is a job opportunity for beggar and homeless people who are an elder people and old people with disability living in Phnom Penh. “A parent can feed ten children, but ten children can’t feed their parent.”, an old Khmer proverb said. As seen, there are many beggar and homeless people in Phnom Penh. They are everywhere such at the market, along the street, at the river bank, at the park, etc. Referring to Phnom Penh post published on 10th May 2012, the living situation of poor elderly people was not good. For instance, a seventy-seven years old lady named Ven Rin said that she swept away the rubbish at the temple at 6 am and went out until 6 or 7 at night to earn whatever she could. She lived very painfully during the Khmer Rouge regime and until today, she has still suffered many hardships of old age and poverty. Through this post, to make a living, poor older people, maybe above 55 years old, become a beggar. They may start begging from 7 o’clock in the morning to 10 o’clock at night. Besides working and begging, some elderly people rely on the support from their children, neighbour and community. But their living standard is still poor. Anyway, according to Phnom Penh post published on 25th March 2015, there are many types of disability people such as physical, hearing, intellectual and speech disabilities. Through this post, in Cambodia, people with disabilities are invisible. An article on National Network Meeting of Cambodian Disabled People’s Organization (CDPO) has also stated that people with disabilities face many issues such as lack of ramp accessibility in schools, health centers, lack of accessibility to receive information, limitation opportunities in employment and political rights. Those two groups of people need a stable well-paid job which they could have a good living standard as others. Therefore, ADB could do something to help them.
Last but not least, the circulation of foreign currency in Cambodia is also the main issue that the Cambodian’s Government needs to deal with too. In fact, the riel is the currency of Cambodia. However, majority of people living in Cambodia prefer using foreign currency – U.S. dollars – which is held in the form of cash in circulation and banking deposits (Reat Viseth, K., 2002). Besides U.S. dollars, some people living at the border of Thailand and Vietnam prefer circulating Thai baht (Reat Viseth, K., 2002) and Vietnamese dong (Tal Nay Im and Michel Dabadie, 2007) rather than Cambodian riel. Confidence in the Riel remained low (Tal Nay Im and Michel Dabadie, 2007). According to Mr. Kem Reat Viseth, currency substitution hinders the National Bank of Cambodia in running an effective monetary policy. Similarly, as Nombulelo Duma said, there are some costs associated with dollarization including loss of monetary policy and loss of seigniorage. Therefore, without taking enough control from the Government, the circulation of foreign currency in Cambodia would become disaster in the next thirty years.
In order to solve the main three problems above, ADB can effectively address critical development issues and better support Cambodia to go forward by supporting government, non-government organization and private sector.
The first thing that ADB could do is to collaborate with government and non-government organizations related to the national reconciliation in the context of reparation project (non-judicial measure). For instance, a Forest Of Remembrance Project conducted by Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP). A Victim Support Section in collaboration with Civil Party Lead Co-Lawyers Section is working actively to support a Forest of Remembrance Project. This project has been presented to civil parties. However, there is one main problem that has not yet been solved: a public space. The tree is a symbol of remembrance of the Khmer rouge regime which will be planted by the representatives from the government, the victims of the Khmer rouge regime and the youths. I could say that peace, reconciliation and remembrance will be found in National Reconciliation through Nature because we all love nation and nature as ourselves. The next generation will always remember that regime and might not follow the same path as the former leaders of that regime. If ADB could support such kind of project especially in dealing with the government to provide a public place to build such trees, then it would be awesome.
The second thing that ADB could take part is to cooperate with the Government, private company or Non-Government Organization (NGO) in order to provide a job opportunity to beggars or homeless people who are an elderly people or an old people with disability living in Phnom Penh. Those groups of people might need a shelter, three times meal, and a weekly-paid job. If there are places that could provide these three things, I do believe that they would be happy to go there. They could be trained in the craftsmanship or could work in the rice field or in the farm. They could be a babysitter also. The matter is how those kinds of job will be heard to them? Normally, there are Human Resource Agency Companies but they don’t work directly with the poor and if there are places looking for them, they just announce on website or post on some postable places in Phnom Penh. If the NGO or the Ministry of Social Affair could work directly with them and check out their skill, then, if there is a suitable position, they could go to meet them at their house or the place where they usually stand by in order to inform that, then I do believe that they will give a try to work and stay there. The beggars and homeless people might have been suffered from discrimination because as observed, not all people are happy to give some money to them. Therefore, ADB could provide some funds to NGO and the Government to find a working place for them. No matter the working place is located in Phnom Penh or in the provinces, it doesn’t matter. What matter the most is that they can have a shelter, a three times meal and a weekly-paid job.
The last thing that ADB could do is to take part in controlling a circulation of foreign currency in Cambodia. Nowadays, the main foreign currency is U.S dollars. ADB could start working as a pilot project with private company such as Lucky Supermarket, and AEON mall etc. As observed, at some supermarkets, 1$ is equal to 4,100 riel. If the buyer could pay in riel, it would be great. The matter is they prefer U.S dollar. In order to change that concept, ADB could take part in this circulation by paying some amounts of money on behalf of the buyers. To illustrate more, below is the example:
|Standard Exchange Rate
||Payment paid by Buyer
|The rest payment paid by
ADB in Riel
|1$ = 4,100 riel
||1$ = 3,900 riel
This method is about encouraging buyers to pay in Riel whether in cash or via a visa card. Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between ADB and private company are really important. Once the buyers have been informed that the 200 riel, for example, is taken over by ADB, then the buyers might be happy to pay in Riel rather than in U.S dollar because they know that they save some money in their pocket.
In conclusion, the national reconciliation, a job opportunity for beggars and homeless people and the circulation of foreign currency in Cambodia are the three main issues that ADB should support Cambodia for future development. While many trees are planted and treated as a memorable and valuable gift for the next generation, the next and next generation will always remember ADB. Moreover, after the beggars and homeless people could get a job, have a shelter and have enough food, they have no need to work on the street. Then, their absent will also bring a beauty to the city. At last, ADB has played another important role to support Cambodian’s Government in dealing with currency substitution which is one of the hardest things for a developing country.
ADB Country Partnership Strategy. (2014, November). Cambodia 2014 – 2018 [Fact sheet]. Retrieved from http://www.adb.org/documents/cambodia-country-partnership-strategy-2014-2018
Asian Development Bank and Cambodia. (2016, April). Cambodia [Fact sheet]. Retrieved from
Bockers, E., Stammel., N, & Knaevelsrud, C. (2011). Reconciliation in Cambodia: thirty years after the terror of the Khmer Rouge regime.
Duma, N. (2001). Dollarization in Cambodia: Causes and Policy Implication.
Fably, P. & Nara, L. (2002, May 10). Growing old: the plight of the elderly. Retrieved from
Introduction to the ECCC. Retrieved from https://eccc.gov.kh/en/about-eccc/introduction
National Network Meeting. Retrieved from
Reat Viseth, K. (2002). Currency substitution and financial sector developments in Cambodia.
Tal Nay Im, T. & Dabadie, M. (2007, March 31). Dollarization in Cambodia.
Where are the people with disabilities in Cambodia?. (2015, March 20). Retrieved from
Mine is so simple. Still it means a lot to me.
Here is the pdf: adb50-essay-contest_miss-mao-chamna
All the best,
Henna Mao (01/Jan/2017)
Love Nature As Yourself