Battambang and Pailin Provinces
Cambodia has an area of 180,000 square kilometres and a population of approximately 14 million. The country is divided into 25 Provinces.
Battambang Province is located in the northwest of the country and shares a border with Thailand to the west.
Battambang, the capital of Battambang Province, is Cambodia’s second-largest city, 300km northwest of the capital, Phnom Penh.
Battambang is subdivided into 12 Districts and further into dozens of communes. The population of the four western-most districts of the province is approximately 100,000. They are dependent on subsistence agriculture.
The area is described by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as consisting of ‘greater than 75% poor’, the highest index of poverty for the country.
Pailin Province is a small province at the foot of the Cardamon Mountains. It is bordered by Thailand to the west and is surrounded to the north, east and south by Battambang Province. The total area of Pailin Province is 8% of Battambang Province, but it has a similar population density. The area is picturesque, geographically and topographically more varied than Battambang Province. However the rural poor, living outside of Pailin City, suffer as much as those in Battambang. CFS extended operations into Pailin in early 2017.
Rural communities in both provinces comprise families who live in single-room thatch houses without electricity or running water. The majority have virtually no access to health services. Employment is occasional, is low paid ($20-30/month) and seasonal.
It is to these poorest of poor communities in the northwest of Cambodia that this initiative is dedicated.
Many of the rural poor in these western parts of Cambodia have migrated into the area seeking land, or because of its proximity to Thailand.
The border districts are relatively infertile and the population poverty-stricken, even by Cambodian standards. Because the people are ultimately dependent on the land for survival the margins are narrow and their options few.
The young are vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking into the sex and forced-labour markets within Cambodia and abroad. There are a high proportion of single parent families, mostly headed by women whose husbands have deserted them or were killed in the war or by land mines.
The government does provide schooling for all children. Although the facilities are rudimentary, many of the teachers and school staff are committed and caring despite the fact that they are very poorly paid (approximately $30 per month).