Help Save Children in Cambodia

Cambodia, officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country in Southeast Asia, most of whose people consider themselves descendants of the ancient Khmer Empire. But painful memories still endure of the murderous Khmer Rouge's time in power under the leadership of Pol Pot in the 1970s, when 2 million people – one-fourth of the population – died in the regime's brutal genocide.

Today’s Cambodia is benefitting from relative stability and rapid economic growth. But the country remains one of the world’s poorest, struggling with widespread poverty, pervasive corruption and a high rate of hunger – its future dependent on the next generation growing up with the health care, education and protection they deserve.

Challenges for Children in Cambodia

Despite gains, too many children in Cambodia struggle to survive as newborns, as well as with getting the nutrition and education they deserve – in particular, girls, children with disabilities and those from ethnic minority groups. Entrenched gender norms prohibit girls from participation as equal members of society, further limiting their potential. You can help.

  • 1 child in 36 dies before their 5th birthday, 4 times the U.S. rate
  • 32% of children suffer from stunting due to malnutrition
  • 22% of children are out of school, and 25% of girls (ages 15+) struggles to read and write
  • 16% of girls (ages 15-19) are married, and 1 in 20 girls gives birth
  • 17% of people live in poverty
Map of Cambodia

Our Results for Children in Cambodia

Thanks to dedicated supporters like you, we’re helping Cambodia’s children survive and thrive, including changing the lives of over 105,000 children in Cambodia last year.

Children stand with their hands above their heads, happily holding favorite books and drawings.

We’re running reading clubs with books and teaching aids in ethnic minority children’s first language to help them learn, foster a love of reading and prepare them for school – all thanks to you.

  • 34,000 children healthy and nourished
  • 53,000 children educated and empowered
  • 21,000 children protected from harm
  • 2,000 children aided in crisis

Our Work for Children in Cambodia

Save the Children has been working in Cambodia since 1970. Although we were forced to leave the country when the brutal Khmer Rouge regime took control, we returned in 1979 to provide much-need relief to the worst-affected families.

Today, we are a leading children’s charity in Cambodia, with a focus on early childhood care and development, basic education, child rights, child protection, health and nutrition, child poverty and disaster risk reduction. We work closely with government and nonprofit partners to improve children's lives, especially those living with disabilities, children in contact with the law, orphaned, vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

Here are some recent examples of our work:

A healthy start in life

  • We’re leading NOURISH, a six-year (2014-2020) USAID-funded Feed the Future project, including nutrition, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) and agriculture components that aims to improve the nutrition of women and children in underserved, rural communities during the critical first 1,000 days of life – supporting 563 villages across three provinces, reaching 500,000 women and children each year; recent results show stunting has been reduced by 6.5% and children maintaining a sufficient diet increased by 25% 
  • We’ve screened 25,000 children for malnutrition and helped establish 10,000 home gardens to promote nutritious diets since 2014
  • Through our Resourcing Families for Better Nutrition approach, we’re helping families who need cash, information and access to quality services to prevent young children from suffering malnutrition
  • Through our BASICS (Bold Action to Stop Infections in Clinical Settings) partnership, we’re working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health on a revolutionary package of simple, cost-effective and scalable interventions that reduces the risk of health care-acquired infections, projected to initially prevent at least 105,000 infections in four countries, including Cambodia
  • Through our Saving Children’s Lives in Vulnerable Communities project, we’re working to improve nutrition of adolescent girls and boys
  • We’re fighting HIV/AIDS discrimination through community outreach activities and an awareness development campaign, as well as providing affected people and their children with basic health care services, technical support in agriculture, small grants and resources to improve their livelihoods

The opportunity to learn

  • We’re working to improve the quality of children’s early learning at existing preschools in remote areas
  • We’re enhancing accountability and administration of  preschool services by focusing on management, monitoring and advocacy at local, district, provincial and national levels
  • We’re helping ensure primary schools improve performance and provide better learning outcomes
  • We’re working to improve the quality of learning environments within target schools
  • Through our EQUAL (Education with Quality and Inclusive Learning) project, we’re helping improve learning results for children through improved environments, increased community engagement, improved and accountable school management and leadership, and effective and inclusive teaching
  • We provided technical expertise to develop a policy and action plan for protecting children in schools, which has been adopted by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport
  • Through our Public Investment in Children approach, we worked with children and civil society organizations to increase the education budget by over $200 million dollars to better serve children’s interests

Protection from harm

  • We’re working to ensure children are protected against violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in their communities
  • We’re promoting children’s participation, especially marginalized children, in local- and national-level decision making that affects their lives
  • Through our Family Care First program, we’re helping strengthen families struggling with crises, so that they can care for children and not resort to placing them in an institution, as well as supporting family-based alternative care when children can’t stay with their biological families – this includes building partners’ capacity, supporting local governments and hosting learning exchanges of best practices, so all children can grow up in strong, caring families
  • To improve the national legal framework, Save the Children in collaboration with other child-focused organizations supported the government of Cambodia in drafting and passing the Juvenile Justice Law in 2016 and its three-year implementation plan for 2018-2020
  • We’re supporting increased investments to promote children’s rights and wellbeing through integrated advocacy efforts at both the local and national level that contribute to the Action Plan to Prevent and Respond to Violence Against Children and the National Positive Parenting Strategy, resulting in significant increases in budget allocations for social services, including child protection, in targeted communities since 2013
  • We’re supporting children to lobby at the local level and building capacity of local authorities to consider children’s rights when they prepare their local budgets
  • Our groundbreaking tools and approaches for child protection and child participation are helping local leaders to make positive changes for children, including our child protection guidebook and planning tools to strengthen Commune Councils and Committees for Women and Children – both introduced by Save the Children and local partners
  • Through our REACT (Responsive and Effective Child Welfare Systems) project, we’re helping ensure girls and boys separated from their family, or at risk of separation, are protected by legislative and regulatory frameworks, quality services and safe, nurturing families within a community environment

Emergency response

  • We’re working to support government partners with disaster preparedness and risk reduction within the education system, with the goal of scaling up nationally
  • We launched our Education Safe from Disasters project to help create safer environments for children and ensure educations aren’t disrupted in disaster-prone Cambodia, completing a major risk mitigation project benefiting several thousand students

How You Can Help Children in Cambodia

You can create change that lasts a lifetime for children in Cambodia – in so many ways.

Support Save the Children’s mission. Donate to help children in Cambodia and around the world grow up healthy, educated and safe.

Sponsor a Child
Be the hero in the life of a child. Sponsorship drives lasting change in children’s lives, families and communities.

Shop Gift Catalog
Give a meaningful gift that will help transform children’s lives and futures in Cambodia and beyond. There’s something for everyone!

Sources: Facts and statistics have been sourced from Save the Children’s monitoring and evaluation experts, as well as our thought leadership publications, including our Global Childhood Report 2020 and Stop the War on Children 2020 report. Other sources include CIA World Factbook and BBC Country Profiles.


Photos: Hanna Adcock / Save the Children.


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