Realities of Poverty

Poverty is a multidimensional and complex problem, with numerous causes and contributing factors. From this, come many misconceptions about poverty and the causes of it. Poverty can be defined as a deprivation of basic needs. These needs consist of food, clean water, shelter and clothing and they determine the quality of life. Once these needs are met then other secondary needs can be met such as education and community services.   One common belief is that poverty is caused by a large population, which can be a factor but it is more about the lack of resources and services available to the people of that country.  Cambodia has a population of around 15 million people which is not that large compared to some of its neighbouring countries. That withstanding, Cambodia is amongst the poorest countries in the world, as it ranks 121 out of 164 on the UN human development index.

Poverty in Cambodia is, unfortunately, rife due to years of war, civil war and genocide.  Around 80% of the population live in the provinces and most of these families are on very low levels of income. They live a very basic lifestyle similar to their ancestors of hundreds of years ago. Poverty continues to become more entrenched with each generation as two main issues conspire to keep these families poor: a lack of educational opportunities for the children and a lack of clean water.  Clean water is vital for people’s health and wellbeing. If children are healthy then they can attend school and learn. Financial support is needed as many villages have no clean water source. Wells need to be constructed in villages and then protected against contamination.

To alleviate poverty education is vital and sadly lacking in Cambodia. Years of genocide saw most of the educated killed. Cambodia’s education system was wiped out. Now opportunities for an education are slowly improving but still many children don’t have schools in their area, and if they do they can’t afford to attend. Education is one of the most important factors in breaking the poverty cycle in Cambodia.

There are many other factors connected to poverty in Cambodia, such as lack of medical services, housing and land issues, natural disasters such as flooding, lack of work opportunities and diminished salaries. Likewise, poverty lowers people’s social status and diminishes their ability to contribute to their community. Poverty in Cambodia is widespread with some 40% of the population living on or below the poverty line of around $1 U.S a day. Sometimes people move in and out of poverty as it can be cyclical due to many factors.

Poverty can be defined as a deprivation of basic needs. These needs consist of food, clean water, shelter and clothing and they determine the quality of life. Once these needs are met then other secondary needs can be met such as education and community services.

In conclusion outside aid and help is needed in Cambodia to alleviate poverty. This is a most worthy, but a long process. Education is vital for Cambodia to move forward. The next generation must receive their basic needs and then they will be able to go to schools and learn effectively. More and more schools need to be built so everyone has access to an education. Then eventually this new educated generation will be able to help and improve their communities. Then lifestyles and financial situations will improve at an accelerated rate.