Cambodia is a developing country emerging from decades of civil conflict and economic stagnation and moving towards becoming a dynamic economy in the Association of South-East Asian Nations. Cambodia has achieved impressive economic growth since the mid-1990s and has made significant progress in reducing national poverty. It is ranked 139 out of 187 countries on the UNDP 2011 Human Development Index. According to the 2007 Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey (CSES), the poverty rate decreased from 35 percent in 2004 to 30 percent in 2007. The government's Commune Database estimates the 2010 poverty rate to be 25.8 percent. The proportion of the population living under the food poverty line is 18 percent according to data from the CSES.
Strong improvement has been reported over the years on most key health indicators, as per the most recent Demographic Health Survey (CDHS 2010). However, malnutrition rates in Cambodia remain stubbornly high; almost 40 percent of children are chronically malnourished and micronutrient deficiencies, especially iron, vitamin A and iodine, are high among children under 5 and pregnant and lactating women. The maternal mortality ratio is 206 per 100,000 live births and life expectancy is low at 58 years for men and 64 years for women.
While Cambodia produces a surplus of paddy rice for export, household access to sufficient and nutritious food remains a serious challenge. This is due to high poverty rates and limited social protection coverage for the poor and vulnerable households, notably those exposed to natural disasters such as flooding and droughts.
In support of government efforts to tackle food security challenges, WFP's assistance in Cambodia focuses on food-based social safety nets in the sectors of education, nutrition and productive assets/livelihoods support, in order to enable longer-term, nationally owned food security solutions.