Phnom Penh

Child from Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cambodia's prosperous capital city and economic centre is Phnom Penh. The city's population of more than 2.2 million is expanding daily because of rural migrants seeking work. 

In the past eleven years, Cambodia has grown economically, yet still ranks 138th in the world’s human development ranks. Further, the gap between the wealthy and the urban poor is widening, exacerbating problems of unemployment and malnutrition.

Rural poor

Almost 90% of Cambodia’s poor live in rural areas - about 4.8 million people. Many rural areas still have unexploded land mines, putting 8 out of 10 Cambodians at risk. Many of the people in the rural areas barely survive on subsistence level and often experience food shortages.

The cycle of poverty is worsened by a lack of education, inadequate, expensive, or non-existent health care, and access to basic facilities like clean water. 

Growing urban poverty affects children 

The top industries in Cambodia are tourism and textiles. The garments industry employs mostly young women although many of them are hired on contractual basis only. This industry has recently been threatened by mass discontent by garment workers because of low wages and poor working conditions. The strain on the economy has led to a higher cost of living leaving 20% of the urban poor living in informal settlements.

Unfortunately, most affected by urban poverty are women and children. Lack of education forces them into low-paying jobs or into the sex trade which further aggravates their health by exposing them to violence, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS.

How we help families in Phnom Penh

Two young girls from the SOS Village in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

SOS Children’s Village in Phnom Penh was established in 2000. This was a critical time for the country, as 1997 marked the end of a 30-year-old civil conflict.The Children’s Village is in New Phnom Penh, an area close to the old city, and currently experiencing a development boom. 

The children in the SOS Village have complex needs after being orphaned, or not being properly cared for by their parents. Many of our children have skin diseases; suffer from malnutrition; and have not been going to school regularly, if at all. We help them with proper nutrition, vaccinations, emotional support, and education. 

The SOS Primary School in the area is now run by the local authorities, and open to all local children. Our Secondary School was established 4 years ago and has the capacity to accept 480 students. For young people, there is a youth programme which supports them to gain vocational and skills training, or complete college degree. 

SOS Children works to ensure vulnerable children have a happy and healthy family environment. Will you sponsor a child in Phnom Penh?

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