CHIANG MAI, Thailand
On the outskirts of the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, a group of twelve migrant families lives in a makeshift camp comprised of houses constructed from scrap metal.
Dotted with rice fields flanked by palm trees, Cambodia’s southeastern province of Kampong Speu is nothing short of picturesque.
But behind the idyllic exterior is an on-going struggle to turn this region’s natural beauty into a global attraction and improve the lot of poor local farmers, as the neighbouring beachside Kampot province did just three years ago.
Times are tough in this Southeast Asian nation of 14 million people, where over 30 percent of the population lives below the poverty line of a dollar a day. Formal employment is hard to come by and many workers find themselves drifting in the murky waters of the “informal” market, where wages are unregulated and labour laws are seldom honoured.
Nean Narin, a humble man and father of three children, says his family is going hungry. Narin lives in the village of Boeung Kak, situated on the edge of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. For years, he and other villagers relied on the Boeung Kak Lake for fish and plants, which they would eat and sell.
Cambodia’s export business is in the process of changing due to shifts in manufacturing in Asia. A business publication in the country has reported unexpected growth in the “machinery and transport equipment” sector and speculated it was as “probably bicycles.” But when Cambodia jumped into the top ten exporters of bicycles to the EU in 2012, it prompted the European Bicycle Manufacturers’ Association (EBMA) to investigate.
As one of the world’s 48 least developed countries (LDCs), Cambodia is afforded the most beneficial trade ranking to the European Union (EU) under the generalised scheme of preferences (GSP)
known as the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme.
For a brief moment last month, mainstream international media turned the spotlight on Cambodia, one of the world’s 48 least developed countries (LDCs), as a high-level visit from U.S. President Barack Obama and the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gave this country of 14.3 million people a glamorous edge.
The Cambodian government has committed to the construction of two dams along the Mekong River in order to meet a huge demand for electricity, but environmental groups warn that severe repercussions loom for this strategy.
The deaths of dozens of Cambodian children in recent months from an initially undiagnosed disease has highlighted the difficult balancing act between informing the public and potentially provoking panic.
Cambodia’s fragmented opposition parties are promising to work together, rather than compete against each other for votes in the next election. All it took was another crushing victory at the polls by the country’s ruling party.
In 2008, delegates meeting for the annual U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) agreed that much greater investments in women and gender equality were a critical – and overlooked – aspect of sustainable development.