(Un)sustainability in Cambodia
by Sophie Muessenich
Sustainability is the key to our survival on this planet and will also determine success on all levels. (Shari Arison)
Anything that cannot last longer and is harmful to the environment is unsustainable. The standards of living in Cambodia are unsustainable since a large number of people still live in poverty, natural resources are not exploited adequately, and there is no food security. The increase in poverty rates in Cambodia can be attributed to unemployment, for there is a high-income inequality where only a few individuals can manage to get high wages. The conditions of living in this country are bad since most children in Cambodia suffer from malnutrition. Also, most households manage to spend only a dollar per day. The natural resources which are supposed to create employment opportunities for the Cambodians are being not used well. Cambodia is blessed with forests, agricultural land, and fisheries and these resources can improve the lives of many people in Cambodia, but there is limited access to these resources, thus, forcing many Cambodians to languish in poverty. In Cambodia, rice is a staple food, although, the country plants other secondary foods like cassava, maize, beans, potatoes, and vegetables. Other Cambodian farmers depend on livestock and improvements in the production of food in the rural areas of Cambodia can be depicted. However, the efforts by these farmers are usually hampered by floods, drought, improper storage of agricultural produce, lack of infrastructure, and poor irrigation practices. These practices have caused food insecurity in the country, thus leaving a large number of the population malnourished. The floods in Cambodia caused crop damage, and this increased food prices especially rice. The events depicted in Cambodia indicate unsustainability in economic growth.
Beach clean-ups are one way of overcoming unsustainability in Cambodia. Beaches serve as tourist attractions; therefore, cleaning them up will attract many tourists, thus improving the economy of the country (Wavetribe, 2020). Also, water bodies are home to different kinds of fish that serve the Cambodian population; for this reason, cleaning up the beaches protects animals living in the water and prevents pollution. When people clean the beaches, the ecosystem around it improves because the trash that people throw carelessly at the oceans will not kill marine animals. Some of the trash disposed of in the ocean is extremely toxic, and this implies that the cycle of marine life can be destroyed. However, through cleaning the beaches, the cycles of marine life cannot be disrupted. Cleaning up a beach also allows an individual to collect information about the conditions of many coasts and the type of trash that pollutes the area.
Cambodia has many beaches, and a few include Otres Beach Coral Beach, Serendipity Beach, and Kep Beach. Most of the Cambodian beaches are polluted, and this hinders the leisure of people who like to spend their time on the beaches. A large number of plastic bottles and bags make the beach unattractive. The Serendipity Beach is said to among the polluted beaches in Cambodia. In 2016 alone, Serendipity beach was categorized as the dirtiest beach in the world by the World Report and US News (Miller, 2018). The classification of this beach came as a result of the number of garbage volunteers collected. The trash contained 1072 pieces. Cambodia was ahead of Albania where volunteers had collected 877 garbage pieces per mile at the beach. The increase of garbage in the beaches of Cambodia can be attributed to significant problems such as the absence of a water filtration system. Most Cambodians lack access to clean water because of pollution of the oceans which provides water to some residents of Cambodia. Some Cambodians depend on bottled water to survive, which is expensive to poor people. The cleaning up of beaches will bore great fruits since people will get adequate water.
The Cambodian government has created financial policies that can facilitate sustainable development in the country. The efforts shown by the government are meant to continue the improvement of spending efficiency and coordination across the branches of the government. The Cambodian government also needs support from development partners and organizations and individuals from the private sectors. According to the IMF economic assessment, Cambodia’s economic growth has increased to seven percent, and the country is still advancing its development plans (IMF, 2020). The involvement of public and private investors in the development of Cambodia has improved access and the quality of infrastructure, and this includes roads and electricity. There has also been an increase in public spending on matters concerning education and health. The public spending has improved access and quality of healthcare services and education. The improvement of education can be seen in the enrollment rate of students in schools which is almost one hundred percent. The Cambodian government is also prioritizing on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through mapping the goals into the prioritized national policies of the country. The Cambodian government strategy has included the SDG framework into its plans. The country is ambitious in improving its infrastructure, and the IMF has estimated that Cambodia needs to spend around seven percent of Cambodia’s GDP to help in the funding of the prioritized SDGs. In this plan, education and health take two-thirds of the resources required. The funds needed to be spent on water and achieve sanitation goals are small. For the country to achieve access to electricity and roads, Cambodia would need two percent of the 2030 GDP. The estimates made by IMF account for climate mitigation policies to some extent. If the government of Cambodia executes its plans well, there would be sustainability in most sectors of Cambodia society. The government of Cambodia can help spending needs by avoiding taking high public debts.
Nonprofit companies play a crucial role in creating healthy societies. These organizations are tasked with the responsibility of providing essential services to the community, and this leads to economic mobility and stability. Nonprofit organizations serve different roles in society some organizations strive to eradicate inequalities at places of work, gender-based violence, tribalism and others advocate for the conservation of the environment. These organizations promote sustainability since they make sure gaps that were left by people or leaders in the government are filled. Cambodia has different organizations that have promoted sustainability in society.
Save the Earth is a nonprofit organization in Cambodia whose vision is to be professional and work with their partners in empowering other institutions to accomplish prosperity and harmony in Cambodia (Save The Earth Cambodia, 2020). This organization is focused on the conservation of the environment since it empowers people of different groups to adopt a sustainable environmentally friendly lifestyle to reduce the impacts of climate change. The organization has created awareness on climate change and supported communities in building eco-friendly societies.
GERES (Group for Environment, Renewable Energy and Solidarity) is another nonprofit organization in Cambodia (SGFE, 2020). This organization has advocated for sustainable development for the past three decades, not only in Cambodia but all over the world. GERES has been working in Cambodia to improve the sustainability of renewable energy services in the country. The fundamental goal of this organization is to preserve the environment and improve the living conditions of Cambodian citizens.
The PSE (Pour un Sourire d’Enfant) is an NGO organization that was setin
Phnom Penh. The PSE has proposed many support programs for less privileged in the outskirts of Phnom Penh. The PSE programs range from the training of children, healthcare, social rehabilitation and provision of food. Finally, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is an organization that was created to save and improve the lives of people of Cambodia. The organization empowered women and created a thriving market for useful household cooking appliances.
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Miller, Z. (2018). 13 of the dirtiest beaches in the world. Insider. Retrieved 22 October 2020, from https://www.insider.com/dirtiest-polluted-beaches-2018-6.
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SGFE. (2020). Partners | Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise. Sgfe-cambodia.com. Retrieved 22 October 2020, from http://www.sgfe-cambodia.com/partners/.
Wavetribe. (2020). Why Beach Clean-Ups are Important – Wave Tribe | Share The Stoke ®. Wavetribe.com. Retrieved 22 October 2020, from https://www.wavetribe.com/blogs/eco/why-beach-cleanups-are-important#:~:text=Cleaning%20the%20beach%20also%20improves,of%20trash%20that%20pollutes%20them.