Three challenges Cambodia faces in 2015

Flagging a problem. Is the wealth gap growing in Cambodia?

Every nation has its issues, and as we saw in Ferguson USA, it can take one incident to ignite a season of protest and turmoil. The powder mix of racism was already there – but one spark set everything off.

I read a lot about Cambodia and think about the risks it faces. Here are three issues brewing.

Land grabs.  According to the monitoring group Global Witness around 700,000 Cambodians have already been negatively affected by land grabs and, since 2003, at least 400,000 people have been forced off their land, usually without consultation or compensation. Land is being taken by big corporations with the blessing of Government – for rubber or palm oil plantations – and the issue is the number one public concern. Strong-arm responses by the police to legal protests are adding to the incendiary mix. What for 2015?

Climate and Environment. An independent study of the risk faced by nations due to natural causes placed Cambodia as 8th most vulnerable in terms of exposure to, and the response resources available. Given the unstable patterns of the world climate – an extended season of drought, or of the opposite extreme  – would put the rural communities in peril, physically and economically. The potential for a drought problem is particularly compounded by hydro developments upstream from Cambodia.

Health. This month’s outbreak of HIV within one community, 100+ people diagnosed, was all about dirty needles and, it appears, the re-use of these by an unregistered doctor. He has been arrested on murder charges – which implies that he knowingly and wantonly infected his patients (a case difficult prove.) But we have to ask ourselves, why was the community using an unregistered doctor to begin with? The fact is, basic health care has a long way to go, with a third of Cambodians without access to clean drinking water. Over the past few years Cambodia has skirted disaster – avoiding widespread outbreaks of chicken flu, for example. But the risks of a pandemic are still a concern

How do you see it?

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