Asian Development Bank (ADB)

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) was established in 1966 which headquarter is in Manila and currently has 68 members under its institution. The ADB aims to assist members and partners by providing loans, technical assistance, grants, and investments to promote socio-economic development.1 The ADB has provided assistance and aid to the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) since 1996 and is one of the major multilateral development partners to the kingdom. The ADB assists the RGC in improving its economic growth, accelerating competitiveness, human capital development, green and inclusive growth, poverty reduction, and effective governance.2 Cambodia is still a developing country and aims to become an upper-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income nation by 2050.3 The ADB intends to continue delivering strong outcomes through strategic investments to assist the RGC in accomplishing the country’s goals. Since 1996, ADB has been projecting about $4.5 billion to Cambodia as in loans, technical assistance, and grants in which $782.7 million was a part of co-financing.4 From 1996 till 2021, about 403 projects and technical assistance programs have been implemented to help Cambodia tackles challenges including the following5:

  • Education
  • Water and urban infrastructure
  • Energy
  • Transport
  • Agriculture and rural development
  • Public sector management
  • Finance
  • Industry and trade
  • Health, etc.

ADB assistance and projects in Cambodia

In education, the ADB has supported projects with the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport (MoEYS), such as the Third Education Sector Development Program (2013-2018),6 Second Upper Secondary Education Sector Development Program (2018-2025),7 Strengthening Technical and Vocational Education and Training Project (2009-2015). New and upgraded educational facilities have also been built in the rural areas and benefited about 400,000 students, of which 180,000 are female students.8 The ADB also emphasized on enhancing secondary school teachers' skills, competencies, and knowledge through a $27 million Enhancing Education Quality Project (2008-2014).9

To facilitate water resources management, the ADB has implemented the rural water supply and sanitation including the Tonle Sap Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project (2006–2010)10, the Second Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project (2009–2015). ADB has assisted more than 100,00 rural households to gain access to water supply while 50,000 households have installed new or upgraded sanitation between 2011 and 2017.11 Meanwhile, in 2019, the ADB has committed an additional $49 million in loans in the Third Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Services Sector Development Program to support the Cambodian government accomplish the goal of providing access to water in rural areas.12

Two farmers were harvesting corn from their farm. Photo by World Bank, taken on 17 July 2013. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Contributing to Cambodia’s agriculture, the ADB also developed infrastructure in rural areas, invested in irrigation and water system, brought new high-value crops and rice cultivation techniques to the farmers.13 More than 400,000 farmers have received training in good agricultural and business practices from the ADB projects and widened their understanding of market opportunities and information. Beyond that, the ADB has initiated and implemented the Tonle Sap Lowlands Rural Development Project14 and Tonle Sap Poverty Reduction and Smallholder Development Project to deepen their sustainable rural economic growth efforts.15

In line with the government policy for sustainable growth which requires improvement in the transportation sector, the ADB has identified that linking the rural and urban areas is important for transportation improvement. From 1996 to 2018, the ADB has allocated $692.18 million in loans, grants, and co-financing accounting for 18% of the ADB total assistance to Cambodia.16  Projects such as Rural Road Improvement Project (2011-2015) and Provincial Roads Improvement Project (2012-2017)17 were implemented to rehabilitate the roads, railways, and ports. About 1,710 km of rural and provincial roads have been rehabilitated to improve the connectivity between the rural and urban areas while providing the locals better access to health centers, works, educations, and markets.18 About 300,000 residents in Moung Ruessei and Rukh Kiri in Battambang province have access to the National Highway 5 and Phnom Penh and Poi Pet at the Thai border, and other 500,000 residents around Tonle Sap lake have access to upgraded roads.19

ADB loan for Cambodia’s COVID-19 response

The unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic have caused approximately 390,000 job losses in 2020 and have hindered Cambodia’s economic growth compared to the progress made in previous years.20 In response to such challenges, the ADB has approved $250 million loans in 202021 with an additional $30 million in 2021 to help the RGC manage the health care system, providing stimulus to businesses, and supporting the economic recovery.22  

Operational challenges

Despite achieving satisfactory outcomes on most projects, ADB’s report indicates that the operation still faces several shortcomings such as project delay, financial management, and limited capacity of executing agencies.23 Acknowledging the need to improve operational effectiveness, the ADB in collaboration with the RGC, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the World Bank is implementing a joint action plan to enhance the effectiveness of its projects in Cambodia. Moreover, the ADB also engages with government agencies to ensure the sufficient use of resources for operation and maintenance.24

Related to Asian Development Bank (ADB)


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