Information Note #3: Social Assistance & UN Cambodia’s COVID-19 Response
25 May 2021
Below provides an update of the United Nations in Cambodia response to the current COVID-19 outbreak and measures.
- In close collaboration with the Royal Government of Cambodia, the United Nations supported the formulation and implementation of the new “emergency social assistance program” in the form of a one-time cash transfer. This will be rolled out in the first week of June 2021. The program is aimed at supporting livelihoods of the low-income population, households affected by the lockdown and families with members who have died of or are infected with COVID-19. Technical assistance to the Royal Government included:
- estimating the potential scope and scale of the “emergency social assistance program”, pre-identifying and registering potential beneficiaries from vulnerable populations, including the near-poor in vulnerable occupations, together with the Ministry of Planning
- capacity building for administering mechanisms for identification and cash transfer delivery by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSAVY)
- developing monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework and tools for the cash transfer programs with National Social Protection Council/Ministry of Economy and Finance
- The COVID-19 cash transfer program using the IDPoor system continued throughout the lockdown period and is benefiting more than 700,000 poor households, which is equivalent to more than 2.8 million people. This ID-Poor cash transfer system has been implemented by the Royal Government since May 2020, with technical assistance from the United Nations and Development Partners.
- United Nations continues to advocate with the Royal Government that well-designed social protection programs serve to protect people’s lives and livelihoods, especially the most vulnerable, it builds social cohesion, solidarity and stimulates the economy. It is vital to scale up the social protection system towards universal coverage and to make it more responsive to shocks.
- In addition, the United Nations calls for: 1) implementing pandemic containment measures in a “do no harm” manner; 2) protecting people's access to food and essential needs; 3) facilitating the functioning of food supply chains and market functionality, and 4) enhancing the quantity, quality and coverage of the relief provided.
- With the current COVID-19 community outbreak, focus should be both on the emergency response as well as preparedness for a larger-scale outbreak. This requires defining a standard for lockdown areas that addresses market functioning, categorizing essential workers to maintain food availability and access, establishing standard emergency food relief packages that are nutritionally adequate, having pre-identified population groups to receive social assistance in case of arising shocks, and identifying mechanisms for adequate coordination with stakeholders and effective communication with the public.
- United Nations notes that at the country level, the State has the primary responsibility to assist and protect all people affected by an emergency within its territory, including by initiating, organizing, coordinating and implementing the humanitarian response. If there is a need or a request, then the UN can assist to ensure that people in need receive the required assistance and protection. Where relevant, the UN will advocate with the State so that humanitarian actors can reach affected people. However, assistance is provided with the consent of the affected country. The UN and its partners work to strengthen the response capacity of the country and to supplement national efforts. All assistance is provided in accordance with international law, national laws and adheres to humanitarian principles.
UN Cambodia’s Response to COVID-19 Information Notes are official documents from the United Nations in Cambodia intended for the media and other partners. They are prepared by the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator.