When Ley Vuthy got hit by a car in a traffic accident, he thought the injury was going to be an abyss of pain in life, both physically and emotionally.
Vuthy told his experience during the Social Protection Week (SP Week): “I stayed in the hospital for 2 months and went through 3 times surgery. As a moto driver, I didn’t have that money for such treatment”
“Through the Social Protection schemes, I was able to receive medical treatment for the injury. It was the early stage of COVID-19 outbreak and I was not able to make income” he added, “I was really grateful”.
Cambodia Social Protection in Context
Over the past two decades, Cambodia has achieved significant economic growth. The country’s social protection system has also developed from covering only public sector workers and the poor and vulnerable to covering a much wider population through social assistance and social security schemes.
The National Social Protection Policy Framework (NSPPF) 2016 - 2025 was launched with the mission to build a long-term social protection coverage that is effective and financially sustainable.
As part of a UN Joint Programme (UNJP) funded by the Joint SDG Fund, the SP Week gathered policymakers and key stakeholders from all areas of social protection to meet and discuss the past, present, and future development for social protection in the country.
“The cash transfer programme for poor and vulnerable benefited about 700,000 households comprising nearly 2.8 million people. The NSSF system was also swiftly deployed to implement the scheme of wage subsidies for suspended workers in the garment and tourism sectors.” she said.
SDG Fund: United Nation Joint Programme for Social Protection
Despite the progress made, there is still a long way to go as only between 20-30 percent of people in Cambodia received some form of support from social protection coverage according to data presented by ILO Cambodia during the event.
Thanks to the funding from the Joint SDG Fund, the UN in Cambodia has provided extensive support to the Royal Government of Cambodia throughout the process of strengthening its social protection system. Specifically, through the UNJP, the ILO with UNICEF and WHO, under the leadership of the UN RC, has supported the government in the implementation of the NSPPF since 2020.
The UNJP has assisted the government in improving the legislative framework for social protection and strengthening the capacity of civil servants to use tools to guide, monitor, and evaluate the implementation of the NSPPF.
During the opening remarks of the event, the UN Resident Coordinator in Cambodia said that the progress made in expanding social protection coverage ensures that not only the most vulnerable but also more Cambodian who are at risk of falling into poverty are now better protected, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.
In addition, the UNJP has assisted the government extending protection to previously uncovered groups through improved delivery services for both social security and social assistance schemes.
Relevant officials at the district and commune level also got trained to ensure the efficient delivery of the cash transfer programme through a digitalized delivery system.
Bringing Voices from the Ground
As a part of UNJP, the SP Week not only gathered policymakers to discuss policy formulation and good governance, but also provided a platform for the public and unions to engage to voice their opinions and concerns.
Mr. Sam Soeun, president of the National Labour Confederation of Cambodia considered such an event critical in facilitating the dialogue between unions, NGOs, and the government.
“To create round-table discussions, Q&A with the public, and live events to reach wider audiences about all the programmes [of social protection] such as cash transfer and social security help create transparency as it matches all stakeholders to meet and discuss in an open and transparent manner to bring shared benefits to workers.”, he added.
Moving Forward into the Future
Ms Meng Navy, research officer of the Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC) thinks social protection in Cambodia has shown positive improvement in helping people, particularly in healthcare.
“For garment workers, social insurance helps their lives a lot by protecting incomes during events such as sickness, maternity and employment injury”, she said.
The SP Week ended with a series of discussions and debates around the progresses and challenges of social protection, as well as ways to move forward.
As the next step in the government agenda, the new pension scheme for private-sector employees and workers will start in October 2022, aiming to provide old-age protection to as many Cambodians as possible.
Week in Highlights
- The SP week took place in Phnom Penh from 15 - 17 February 2022, bringing together over 500 participants involved in the area of social protection. The three days hybrid online and face-to-face event focused on debates around the progress and challenges in the area of social protection. The event started with a one-day high-level conference, followed by one day of technical sessions, and one day of public awareness-raising.
- A public awareness campaign was launched to engage the general public on the topic of social protection to participate through social media, with a total reach of 1.3 million views on Facebook. The live stream on the last day alone reached 230,000 views across the main Facebook page and other partners’ Facebook pages.
- In addition to the live stream, Vox Pop style videos were conducted to get the views about social protection of people from various walks of life, including students, informal workers, and housewives .
- A photo competition on Social Protection with public voting attracted 40 submissions and went through three selection rounds. In the last round, the final top three winners with the highest quality and most meaningful photos were selected by the National Social Protection Council and ILO to receive cash prizes.