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The commitment of AEC-Foyer Lataste to the eradication of extreme poverty in Cambodia

The Foyer Lataste carried out a communication campaign on social networks from 12 to 17 October 2020 with the theme of the eradication of extreme poverty. This is at the heart of the action of AEC-Foyer Lataste and is part of the Sustainable Development Objectives of the United Nations Agenda 2030.

According to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, ”The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is an opportunity to recognize the efforts and struggles of people living in poverty, a chance for them to make their concerns known and a moment to recognize that poor people are on the front line in the fight against poverty”.

Cambodia is one of the most dynamic economies in the world, with an average growth rate of 8% from 1998 to 2018. Poverty continues to decline in the country: in 2007, the poverty rate was 47.8 percent, falling to 13.5 percent in 2014. But it is a fragile state, as about 4.5 million people remain “near-poor” and are at risk of falling back into poverty when exposed to economic or external shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Extreme poverty means living below the international threshold, i.e. with less than 1.90 USD per person per day. In Cambodia, the national poverty line is 1.44 USD per day per person. This poverty is multi-scalar and concerns six main depravities: access to water, nutrition, health, sanitation, housing and early childhood development. The global Covid-19 pandemic has been an amplifier of inequality, but the causes are surmountable! 

ANG Sophea, the Program Officer for the « Children supported in their community » Program, went to interview a family that has been benefiting from the program since 2013. The parents of the beneficiary MOL Reachsa opened their doors to us and give us a poignant testimony on their journey. Indeed, before their integration into the AEC-Foyer Lataste program, their living conditions were very precarious because they lived below the poverty line. As a large family, their vital needs were not always met depending on the days and the income earned during the day. Thanks to our financial, material and psychological support, their basic needs were met. Parents have always believed in the power of education and have always wanted their children to complete their schooling. Today, it is thanks to child labor that parents enjoy a better quality of life. They have also been able to save on their side and have a more stable daily life.

Thus, education and access to training enable entire families to gradually emerge from extreme poverty. Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations from 1997 to 2008, said that “education is a human right with immense transformative power. (…) Knowledge is power. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family”. Through access to education, the labor market becomes more accessible, as do the possibilities of earning a stable salary and being able to save. Supporting the schooling of children means guaranteeing an improvement in the living conditions of families in the long term!

Eradicating extreme poverty in Cambodia, but also in the world, is possible and achievable. To do so, we must continue to accompany families in need and ensure that the conditions are in place to support access to education for children.

Redacted by Solène Zech, Field Coordinator.

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