Sustainable Development Goal 1 (SDG 1) seeks to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”, ensuring extreme poverty is eradicated and overall poverty is reduced by 50%.
This goal provides a much more comprehensive approach than the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the issue of poverty. It focuses on the underlying vulnerability of people barely out of poverty to shocks, such as climate-related extreme events, equal rights to economic resources, and lack of access to ownership and control over land.
While poverty has been on the international development agenda and has seen substantial improvements in recent years, work still needs to be done. The 2015 Agenda and its MDGs brought significant advances in poverty, reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty by more than half. However, 46 per cent of all workers in South-Eastern Asia are working in vulnerable conditions, rarely having the benefits associated with decent work and often being one step away from falling back into extreme poverty. Almost 1.4 billion workers are estimated to be in vulnerable employment in 2017.1 Vulnerable employment continues to be more pervasive among women than men in South-Eastern Asia, where vulnerable employment rates among women are more than 10 percentage points higher than those of men.2 Consequently, the international community brings the issue to the forefront of the 2030 Agenda, and urges countries to galvanize further action.
The Goal contains the following seven interrelated targets3:
Poverty was addressed in Millennium Development Goal 1 (MDG 1), in which poverty was closely associated with hunger. Out of the three targets of MDG 1, the first two focused on poverty specifically: A) To halve the proportion of people whose daily income is less than $1.25; B) To achieve full and productive employment, as well as decent work for all, including young people and women; C) Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.4
The localized Cambodian MDG 1 (CMDG 1) contained two targets addressing poverty:
- Target A: Halve the proportion living below the national poverty line.
- Target C: Increase the income share of the poorest 20%.
Progress was uneven among countries, regions and population groups. The results were similar at the country-level for Cambodia. A review of the CMDGs reflected highly uneven improvements at sub-national level and across population groups. While target A was fully met, target C showed underperformance. Even though improved income equality was delivered, the improvement fell short of the specified targets, fueled by the disparity between provinces.
Prevalence of poverty
The transition from the MDGs to the SDGs reflects two major shifts of approach. First, the new 2030 Agenda makes a clear distinction between poverty and hunger by creating a standalone goal for each. Second, a much more comprehensive approach is adopted. SDG 1 spotlights a number of other factors hindering progress, such as vulnerability to shocks and the large population currently vulnerably employed.
SDG 1 calls for equal access by men and women to services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, as well as financial services such as microfinance. This involves promoting inclusive economic growth to provide sustainable jobs and bring equality. Social protection systems need to be implemented to help alleviate the suffering of disaster-prone countries and provide support in the face of great economic risks. These systems will help strengthen responses by affected populations to unexpected economic losses during disasters and will eventually help to end extreme poverty in the most impoverished areas.5
Unlike the MDGs, the 2030 Agenda has an integrated and indivisible nature as the Goals are intended to complement and mutually reinforce each other. SDG 1 has particularly strong links with Goal 2 Zero Hunger, Goal 3 Good Health and Well-Being, Goal 5 Gender Equality, Goal 6 Clean Water and Sanitation and Goal 10 Reduced Inequalities.
Targets and Indicators
Despite high economic growth and substantial national poverty reductions in the last two decades, vulnerable employment remains at the forefront of poverty issues in Cambodia. The national objective to increase the income share of the poorest 20%, set for CMDG 1, was not met. In the 2017 Multidimensional Poverty Index by UNDP, Cambodia ranked 64th out of 104 countries assessed, ranking worse than Thailand (13th), Vietnam (39th) and Lao PDR (58th) and only slightly better than Myanmar (66th).6
The Royal Government has made efforts to enact and implement various social policies, specifically to ensure that poor and vulnerable people receive support through the establishment of orphanages, facilities for people with disabilities, maternal and newborn care centers, health services, subsidy to poor people who need treatment or child delivery service, free primary and secondary education, etc. In addition, the Royal Government established the National Social Security Fund for Civil Servants (NSSFC), the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), the National Fund for Veterans (NFV) and the People with Disabilities Fund (PWDF), to guarantee a stable income for citizens through pensions, healthcare, employment injury allowance, Cambodia’s Voluntary National Review 2019 of the Implementation of 2030 Agenda Section 4: Progress on goals and targets 40 disability allowances and other allowances. These activities are consistent with the poverty reduction policies and the Royal Government’s socio-economic development policies already established in other key policies, in particular the Rectangular Strategies and the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP).7
Table 1: Contextualizing the MDG1 into CSDG18
|CSDG Targets||CSDG Indicators||Unit||Baseline (2015)||2020-2021||2025||2030||Monitor every|
|1.2 By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions||1.2.1 Proportion of Cambodian population living below the national poverty line, by sex, age, and geography||2 years|
|188.8.131.52 Proportion of population living below the national poverty line||%||13.5 (2014)||10.50||8.50||6.00||2 years|
|184.108.40.206 Phnom Penh Area living under national poverty line||%||12.90 (2014)||14.70||11.70||9.00||Annually|
|220.127.116.11 Urban Area living under national poverty line||%||12.90 (2014)||10.50||8.50||6.00||2 years|
|18.104.22.168 Rural Area living under national poverty line||%||12.50 (2014)||10.50||8.80||6.30||Annually|
|22.214.171.124 Proportion of Cambodian children living below the national poverty line||%||22.20 (2014)||18.00||14.80||11.10||2 years|
|1.2.2 Proportion of children living in poverty measured by multiple dimensions according to national definitions||%||50.7 (2014)||42.30||33.80||25.40||5 years|
|1.3 Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable||1.3.1 Proportion of population covered by social protection floors/systems, by sex, distinguishing children, unemployed persons, older persons, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, newborns, work-injury victims and the poor and the vulnerable||Annually|
|126.96.36.199 Proportion of the poor and the vulnerable received social emergency relief services||%||3.79 (2017)||3.32||2.92||2.51||Annually|
|1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources||1.4.1 Percentage of total members of registered community fisheries and forestry with tenure rights to fisheries and forestry resources management through effective community registration and development||%||40 (2016)||50||63||85||Annually|
In the Cambodian Sustainable Development Goals (CSDGs) Framework 2016-2030 released by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC), reduced poverty in rural areas as well as reducing poverty among children are listed as a top priority. Expanded interventions will reinforce the 2030 Agenda, including ensuring that incomes of the poorest 20% rise at a faster rate than other groups through targeting economics growth efforts to lagging groups and regions and the roll-out of social assistance measures. However, the specific activities for each of these interventions are not detailed in the document.9
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) conducted a rapid integrated assessment (RIA) of the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) 2014-2018 against the SDG targets. While the national poverty line reveals that poverty may have been halved from 34.4% (2008) to 17.7% (2012), the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) suggests that some 33% of Cambodians remain multidimensionally poor, while an additional 21.6% of the population remains vulnerable to slipping back into poverty.10 The NSDP 2014-2018 monitors the Poverty Rate, Women in Labor Force, and Micro-financing Loans, among others, which are highly relevant for CSDG 1.
The coordination of the CSDG 1 targets has been assigned to different Ministries and government bodies. The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) is responsible for indicator 1.2.1, related to providing social relief to the most vulnerable. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry (MAFF) is responsible for indicator 1.4.1, related to land ownership. The Ministry of the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia is primarily responsible for all the indicators supporting Target 1.2, pushing for an inclusive reduction of multidimensional poverty.11
The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has outlined the following objectives for the CSDG 2 which are to be accomplished by the year 203012:
- Reduce the proportion of the population living below the national poverty line from 13.50% in 2014 to 6%
- Reduce the proportion of Phnom Penh population living below the national poverty line from 12.90% in 2014 to 9%
- Reduce the proportion of urban population living below the national poverty line from 12.90% in 2014 to 6%
- Reduce the proportion of rural population living below the national poverty line from 12.50% in 2014 to 6.30%
- Reduce the proportion of children living below the national poverty line from an estimated 22.20% in 2015 to 11.10%
- Reduce the proportion of children living in poverty measured by multiple dimensions from 50.70% in 2014 to 25.40%
- Increase the percentage of total members of registered community fisheries and forestry with tenure rights to resource management from 40% in 2016 to 85%
CSDG 1 will be monitored periodically – either annually, or every 2 years depending on the indicator. Gathering all the necessary data will require joint effort between multiple stakeholders. The Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation, and The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry will collect data for the prevalence of the indicators. Implementing NGOs and partners will undertake their respective assessments of their projects which will provide further and detailed information.13
- 1. International Labour Organization 2018. “World employment social outlook: Trend 2018“. Accessed 25 July 2019.
- 2. Ibid.
- 3. Open Development Cambodia (ODC). “SDG 2 Zero hunger“. Accessed 15 July 2019.
- 4. United Nations, 2015. “The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015”. Accessed 27 July 2019
- 5. United Nations. “Goal 1: No poverty”. Accessed 25 July 2019.
- 6. United Nations Development Programme, 2017. “Multidimensional Poverty Index: Cambodia“. Accessed 12 July 2019.
- 7. Royal Government of Cambodia. “Cambodian Millennium Development Goals (CMDGs)“. Accessed 13 July 2019.
- 8. Royal Government of Cambodia 2018. “Cambodian Sustainable Development Goals (CSDGs) Framework (2016-2030)”. Accessed 13 July 2019.
- 9. Ibid.
- 10. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2016. “Rapid Integrated Assessment – Cambodia SDG Profile”. Accessed 12 July 2019.
- 11. Royal Government of Cambodia 2018 “Cambodian Sustainable Development Goals (CSDGs) Framework (2016-2030)”. Accessed 25 July 2019.
- 12. Ibid.
- 13. Ibid.