Authentic development is integral
The report of the UN Capital Development Fund’s author Nicola Crosta over Cambodian inequality is particularly important at this time when nations around the world are worry to adapt their economies to the financial global changes.
Authentic development must be integral. This is an important key to face an unfriendly financial global market today. If social inequality in Cambodia does not receive the proper attention, the dream of Cambodia to become a developed nation will end. Instead we are going to have a Cambodia similar in its economy to countries like Mexico, Colombia or Brazil with huge social inequalities that are the cause of violence and political instability. It is easier today to repair the damage than wait some generations later to do so.
What Crosta said is not new, however it is announced as it were like that. In 2006 the World Bank warned about it. Then country manager of the World Bank, Nisha Agrawal, said that inequality was growing rapidly in Cambodia ‘though high growth rates have all helped to reduce poverty rate.‘
Although reduction of poverty has been a fact in our country according to the 2004 survey of the Bank – ‘from about 47 percent in 1994 to 35 percent a decade later,‘ in that same decade the 20 percent of the poorest Cambodians rose on average by 8 percent, while the 20 percent of the richest Cambodians rose six times as fast, by 45 percent, according to the Banks’ report at the time.
Growing continued in Cambodia from 2006 to 2008, but inequality too that is evident in the far differences in incomes levels, according to the Crosta report. There has been a poverty reduction, however, which is still slow anyway.
The Cambodian Human Poverty Index
For 2007, Cambodia was ranked 137 in the global Human Development Index (HDI), just ahead of Myanmar (No. 138) and back to Congo (136)! Looking to the Cambodian HDI rank and its PPP for 2009, you find an evident disparity: If Cambodia and Myanmar have almost the same HDI, their PPP is far different: Cambodia with USD 1,800 per capita and Myanmar with 1,000.
In 2009 the Human Poverty Index ranked Cambodia in the global 87th place, just ahead of India (88)! and back Dijbouti (86).
Fortunately, it is predicted the continuity in the economical growing for the country with a 4.5 percent for 2010 as it is expected by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). It will guarantee also the continuity in the reduction of poverty, but it will depend also in how local development will be emphasized by the central administration. The need to develop the rural areas is urgent, because the effects of the 2009 global financial crisis will reduce the exports for a country like Cambodia that would need a more systematic diversification of its productions.
Investment in the education of a so young national population is now a priority. As for 2009 it is reported by CIA World Factbook than 50 percent of the Cambodians are younger than 21 years old! It is a strength and a challenge, but it can be a problem if young people do not find the due opportunities for learning and finding jobs. Private investment could help, but it must be also coordinated in what skills the country need now.