The most pressing needs facing families during Covid-19 are money, food, and loan repayment, a recent economic impact study revealed.
Carried out by the Future Forum think tank in collaboration with Angkor Research and Consulting Ltd, it involved interviews with 1,134 people in Phnom Penh and five provinces.
Future Forum president Ou Virak said the study was conducted in late April and early May, and data in the study reflects the situation of citizens. A follow-up study began after the first ended and will be completed this month.
“We interview the same households in the new study. We want to know about the response of the government because when interviewed in late April there were not so many responses from the government.
“Not so many [poor] people received aid then and the government’s aid provision policy was launched in May. The cash handout programme for poor people was only announced recently,” he said.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Virak said the goal is to learn about citizens’ livelihoods. Have their situations changed for the better or worse after getting aid from the government, he asked.
In the first study on the impacts of Covid-19 on the economy, 1,087 households and 54 village chiefs of 10 districts in Phnom Penh, Kampot, Siem Reap, Svay Rieng and Kampong Speu province were interviewed.
The study revealed that 94 per cent of village chiefs confirmed that Covid-19 had affected their villages, including the closure of 1,083 household enterprises (10.5 per cent).
Between January and April, the average household saw a 40 per cent decrease in income. When asked to reflect on the reasons for this change, respondents cited a lack of customers as the key issue.
The number of families who reported they were late in making loan repayments increased by 230 per cent.
“Additionally 83 households reported they received some form of support from either the government or NGOs between January and April.
“This aid was received in the form of food, soap, or masks, while 1,004 families reported receiving no support.
“The most urgent household needs reported in April were money (55.7 per cent), food (24.5 per cent), and a delay in loan repayments (4.5 per cent),” the report said.
Roughly one-fifth of households in the survey generated income from farming or fishing
Activities. The four main activities consisted of growing rice, cassava, vegetables, and raising animals.
In total, around 20.1 per cent of the sample households reported moderate to severe food insecurity.
This month, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the number of poor people receiving support from the government had risen to 610,000 families, raising the assistance budget to $28 million.
Virak said he was concerned about the decline in household incomes which mainly came from salaries and small businesses at home. But in general, he said the families generated incomes from many sectors, which is a sign they can face difficulties.