Cambodia's Rural Poor to Get Livelihood Support Linked to Road Upgrade

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Government of Japan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are extending a $1.9 million grant to help rural entrepreneurs in Kampong Thom, Cambodia develop micro and small enterprises.

The grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, administered by ADB, will help communities living near the ancient Khmer temple complex of Sambo Prei Kuk benefit from an increase in visitors, once improvements to a road linking the site to national route 6 are complete. Beginning this year, the 28 kilometers road is being upgraded to paved condition as part of a parallel ADB project.

While many rural Khmer families produce traditional crafts and locally processed food that could generate substantial income and employment, they are unable to exploit commercial opportunities because of physical isolation, inefficient production methods, poor understanding of the market and a lack of access to affordable credit. The project aims to address these constraints and demonstrate how to integrate livelihood development activities into a rural road improvement program.

"Complementary investments in training, infrastructure, business services and community organization will enable local entrepreneurs to establish community based enterprises and enter lucrative value chains that are linked to Cambodia's multi-million dollar craft industry," said Steven Schipani, an ADB Social Sector Specialist.

"Increased rural employment and the project's life skills training program will also provide young men and women with alternatives to unsafe migration," Schipani added. About 11 rural villages with poverty rates ranging from 30% to 40% are expected to benefit.

The government and project beneficiaries will contribute over $184,000 equivalent toward the project's total cost of nearly $2.1 million. The Ministry of Tourism is the executing agency for the project, which will be implemented from 2011 to 2014.

The Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction is an untied grant facility established by the Government of Japan and ADB in May 2000 to help the poorest and most vulnerable segments of society increase their capacity for self-help and income generation. From an initial contribution of $90 million, the Fund has grown to over $445 million.

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