According to the 2004 Census of the National Institute of Statistics, nearly 5% of the Cambodian population live with disabilities. The causes are multiples : accidents, diseases, malnutrition in the childhood that leads to late cognitive development…
How is living with a disability in Cambodia?
People with disability face many physical, social and economic barriers in their daily lives. Most of them lack access to appropriate healthcare, education and services. These difficulties prevent them from being fully and effectively included in their society. They are most of the time discriminated and marginalized due to their disability, and have to live in poverty because of the difficulties encountered in different areas such as employment, the inconsistent incomes, and the lack of access to education.
Some NGOs, such as Soulcial Trust, have been trying to help them, but there is still a lack of financial aid and medical care to manage the overwhelming needs in Cambodia, especially in the rural areas. The cities also need to improve, since most of the streets and buildings do not have any access for persons with disabilities.
Some actions have been taken…
To extend the protection of the rights of the persons with disabilities, the Royal Government of Cambodia, in addition to the Constitution, launched initiatives and international treaties. It committed to improve the lives of people with disability through the recognition of their rights by the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2012. The government has also enacted several disability laws and strategic plans more recently to help building an inclusive society in Cambodia.
To ensure that persons with disabilities in Cambodia have the opportunity to improve their quality of life, the Australian Government proposed to develop a joint disability programme named “Disability Rights Initiative Cambodia” (DRIC) with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It is a 5-year program (2014-2018) funded by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of Australian government with a budget of 13.1 million AUD.
…but there is still efforts to make!
People with disabilities are one of the most vulnerable group in the society nowadays. The most urgent issue in Cambodia now, is to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the same opportunities regarding employment and living conditions as other people in the society. The challenge now is to build and promote a more inclusive society, by giving the same chance to everyone to have a decent and happy life, no matter their health status. To achieve this goal, the first step is to raise awareness about disability in Cambodia!