ADB Unveils Poverty-Reducing Strategy

The financial institution hopes the plan will boost Cambodia’s farm sector and rural infrastructure.

ricefarmer-305.jpg A Cambodian farmer cuts rice in a field in Kampong Speu province, Nov. 14, 2010.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced Thursday that it will invest U.S. $500 million in a poverty-busting plan to improve Cambodia’s agricultural sector and rural infrastructure.

The resource investment plan will help stimulate economic growth and social development under a new Country Partnership Strategy over a three-year period, bank officials said.

“The CPS sets out an ambitious road map to reach out to Cambodia’s poor with an integrated approach to rural development,” said Peter Brimble, senior country economist for the ADB’s Cambodia Resident Mission, in a statement.

As nearly 75 percent of Cambodia's population is engaged in agriculture, the strategy will create farm jobs, raise incomes, and improve food security.

The Manila-based ADB said it will also improve irrigation systems to boost productivity in support of the Cambodian government’s rice production and export promotion policy.

Rural focus

The investment plan also aims to improve business opportunities in rural areas by strengthening transportation links from within Cambodia to neighboring countries.

It will specifically target transportation in the country’s Southern Economic Corridor by linking the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh with the Thai capital Bangkok and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh city.

This will help promote market connectivity, competitiveness, trade, and tourism activities within the Greater Mekong Subregion.

In addition to improving access to Cambodia’s outlying areas, the strategy also aims to expand rural water supply and improve sanitation facilities.

The lender will earmark a portion of the funding to facilitate greater access to secondary education throughout the country.

“The new strategy will help the country to develop a vibrant private sector, to diversify the economy, and to integrate Cambodia into regional markets,” Brimble said.

Previous investments

In recent years, the ADB has invested millions in Cambodia, one of Southeast Asia’s poorest countries.

The ADB and the Australian government are providing more than U.S. $100 million to help rehabilitate the country’s national railroad stretching from Sihanoukville in the south, through Phnom Penh and up to the northern border with Thailand.

The upgraded railroad is expected to improve business opportunities in the country, but will require the resettlement of thousands of families during the rebuilding phase.

The ADB said on Monday that the bank and its development partners, including the Cambodian government, have agreed on a detailed, time-bound action plan to resolve the resettlement problem.

Reported by Lauren Littleton.


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