Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Chea Somethy highlights the government’s efforts to provide for the Kingdom’s poor and vulnerable, noting that since 2019 more than $1.3 billion has been spent on supporting nearly 700,000 households, almost 60,000 of them with disabled members.

His remarks came as he presided over the December 4 celebrations of the 25th Cambodian Day of Persons with Disabilities and the 41st International Day of Persons with Disabilities, held in Phnom Penh. 

Somethy, who also serves as head of the Disability Action Council (DAC), detailed how through the national social protection fund, the government has assisted 698,729 vulnerable households with a cash transfer programme.

“Of the families that benefitted from this programme, 59,977 had a disabled member. Between June 2019 and August 2023, the state has spent $1.328 billion,” he said.

He explained that the government has made greats effort to improve the livelihoods of the poor and the disabled, in order to reduce their poverty. To accomplish this, it has created and promoted decent job opportunities and established cash assistance programmes. 

In addition, donors, civil society organisations (CSOs) and various development partners also contribute budgetary and human resources to supporting persons with disabilities in Cambodia.

“For example, the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Cults and Religion all care deeply for the disabled, and have built public infrastructure at sub-national administrations and pagodas that improve access to these facilities,” he said.

He added that the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Ministry of Health allow many disabled people to hold driver’s licences, enabling them to move around independently.

In addition, Somethy noted some of the other initiatives which his ministry is carrying out. 

This included the strengthening of physical rehabilitation services and the development of Braille and sign language, in order to accommodate the sight or hearing impaired into the IT and education sectors, as well as the media.

Prime Minister Hun Manet has said that he is optimistic about the common vision of continuing to improve the disability sector by empowering and supporting the disabled. This vision would be immensely valuable in developing society in a sustainable, inclusive and strong manner, especially as it recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In a practical way, we have also taken care to make disabled persons more comfortable and improve access. We have built ramps, established priority parking lots, and employ sign language more widely. We have also introduced pedestrian crossings for the blind,” he added.

A social affairs ministry report showed that in 2023, there were 39,776 persons with disabilities employed across 39 state institutions. The number accounted for 2.05 per cent of the total number of state employees.

In the private sector, 3,759 persons with disabilities, 3,631 of them women, were recorded as being employed at 241 private enterprises.