Housing poverty in Cambodia

Growing slums and inequalities
  • Individuals served in 2016: 52,135 Individuals served in 2016: 52,135
  • Volunteers hosted in 2016: 1,444 Volunteers hosted in 2016: 1,444
  • Projects: water & sanitation, construction, disaster response Projects: water & sanitation, construction, disaster response

Over 1/4 of the population lives in poverty in Cambodia.

Families living in slums are breaking the cycle of poverty by working with us to develop durable, affordable homes.

Urban poverty on the rise...

Following decades of war under the khmer rouge, Cambodia has seen its level of poverty decline but huge inequalities persist.

The food and economic crises in 2008 and 2009 led to high levels of rural to urban migration, predominantly to the capital Phnom Penh.

When people faced the risk of eviction from rental housing, struggled to find employment and could not afford to provide their children with basic education.

... and so are slums

Unsanitary and unhealthy living conditions also affect health.

1 in 5 people in Phnom Penh live in an informal settlement, or slum, and lacks access to basic services and secure tenure.

Urban poverty in Cambodia worsened and people started settling in every conceivable empty space, from courtyards to rooftops, by the side of railway tracks and near riverbanks and swamps.

How we address housing poverty in Cambodia

We take a holistic approach to housing that includes securing land tenure and developing thriving communities with access to clean…

We take a holistic approach to housing that includes securing land tenure and developing thriving communities with access to clean and affordable water and electricity.

Working in six major provinces, we work with partners to train families in financial literacy and livelihood development, help vulnerable groups living with HIV/AIDS, and improve access for informal settlers in Battambang province to have secure land tenure.

We also provide micro loans and construction technical assistance to enable families to build wells and latrines, among others.

Our programmes feature the use of environmentally friendly soil blocks, solar-powered lights and rainwater catchment systems.

Why we support Cambodia
Since 2003, we have worked with more than 10,000 families to improve their living conditions.

With our help and that of our local partners, these same families are getting training in skills that will help them earn a living and sustain that income.

Together we are:

  • Addressing sanitation problems and providing clean water.
  • Helping to build the local financial services sector and ensure it serves the extremely vulnerable people we work with.

And because we are working with vulnerable groups in Cambodia, we also work to provide the support of social workers who can make sure they are coping with new work patterns and new housing.

Key facts & figures

  • Population: Over 15.9 million
  • Urbanisation: 20.7% live in cities
  • Life expectancy: 64.5 years
  • Unemployment rate: 0.3 %
  • Population living below poverty line: 17.7 %

Reforming land rights and housing advocacy

The Battambang project is unique in making centrally located, urban land available for housing the poor. This allows us to…

The Battambang project is unique in making centrally located, urban land available for housing the poor. This allows us to support families and local authorities in applying for the government’s social land concession scheme.

The work involves converting state-owned land in urban areas in Battambang into privately owned plots with secure tenure granted to families who were informal settlers. We also work with partner microfinance institutions (MFIs) to provide affordable micro-loans to families to build decent homes.

new homeowners Cambodia

Housing and resettlements

In Phnom Penh, we work with relocated families living under to build core houses or repair or rehabilitate their houses and toilet facilities. Small loans enable families to gain access to clean water and electricity connection.

Through partnerships with local non-government organizations focused on people living with HIV/AIDS, we provide adequate housing solutions while partners assist with health and livelihood aspects.
Read more

Water and sanitation

We began working in the Siem Reap province in 2007 through a 3-year housing and community development project, which paved the way for the expansion of our programme to improve families’ access to clean water and safe sanitation.

As well as providing new sanitation facilities, we take a community-led total sanitation approach by training local leaders to provide education (and hopefully change bad habits) around water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH).
Read more

Housing finance: micro-loans for Cambodians

Since our housing finance programme began in 2012, we have formed partnerships with major microfinance institutions such as CBIRD, Theneaka Phum, and Hattha Kakseakar Limited. Institutional loans are provided to the MFIs, which are then disbursed to families for housing and home improvement loans.

We also give micro-loans to build sanitation facilities in rural areas through our partner Vision Fund Cambodia.
Read more

Related articles