Cambodia’s Road to Development
An improved road to Cambodia's Sambor Prei Kuk is creating opportunities for local women and the rural poor.
Despite years of robust economic growth and progress in reducing poverty, many Cambodians eke out a meager living and hover very close to the poverty line.
The people living in poverty in rural areas have the skills to produce handicrafts and agricultural products that could provide a stable livelihood.
But isolation, lack of business training, lack of affordable credit, and poor market access limit their opportunities.
The Cambodian Ministry of Rural Development, with the help of the Asian Development Bank, is addressing the problem of physical isolation by embarking on the huge task of improving Cambodia’s thirty seven thousand kilometers of unpaved rural roads.
As a first step, the Rural Road Improvement Project is paving 500km of roads in seven provinces by 2014.
However, while road improvements clearly benefit rural areas, our research showed that poor rural families need targeted support to fully benefit from the increased access that new roads promise.
A planned road improvement in Kampong Thom province gave the Asian Development Bank and the Cambodian Government an opportunity to address the needs of the rural poor and improve market access in an innovative way.
Alongside the road improvement project, ADB designed a Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction grant to support micro and small enterprise development in a variety of different ways.
Strategically situated between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, Kampong Thom is home to the breathtaking pre-Angkorian temples of Sambor Prey Kuk, a candidate UNESCO world heritage site.
In 2012 work began to improve the road that would dramatically decrease travel time to Sambor Prey Kuk.
ADB wanted to ensure that the rural poor, specifically poor women didn't miss out on the road's potential benefits.
ADB developed an innovative plan to sell quality indigenous crafts and local foods.
The project focuses on gender equality and poverty reduction by involving local women in construction jobs, training programs, producer associations and market management.
With the market and temple site there to attract tourists, and the road in place to get them there, a final element to ensure this project creates opportunities for poor in the region is skills training.
There are also training courses underway in organic cashew and palm sugar production. Trainers work in the eleven villages surrounding Sambor Prey Kuk and focus on creating women-led enterprises.
SOT: Uth Sam An
Governor, Kampong Thom
The project provides capacity development, and then skills training for the community…then even builds a market in the community.
Soon, when the road to Sambor Prei Kuk is finished, the people of Kampong Thom will be ready.