The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has provided emergency assistance in the form of food and other materials to 280,292 households who fell victim to natural disasters and other unfortunate events in the past five years, and has now set the medium and long-term goals of strengthening social protection.

Ministry spokesman Touch Channy revealed the figures and plans at a press conference on its five-year achievements, organised by the Government Spokesperson Unit at the Council of Ministers on August 18.

He said the ministry has worked with several organisations, including the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC), to complete the tasks.

Through the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), he said the ministry has established a social security system which assists with pensions, and payments for disabilities, maternity leave, accidents and deaths.

Channy said the security fund for civil servants reached to 56,171 people – including retirees and the disabled – and 44,692 dependents. Approximately $94 million a year is spent to maintain the payments.

“We estimate that the total number of civil servants is more than 200,000, of whom about 3,300 retire year – about 1.5 per cent,” he explained.

He added that the ministry had also provided treatment to 55,307 drug addicts at treatment and rehabilitation centres. Of the number, 35,223 had been reunited with their families and communities since recovering.

He said the government has launched two cash transfer programmes, the first for pregnant women and new mothers. Since June 2019, the ministry had provided more than $19 million to 277,080 pregnant women and children. As part of its strategy to protect the public during its fight against Covid-19, the government launched a cash handout programme for the poor and vulnerable in June 2020.

“As of July 24 this year, we have completed nine rounds of payments to 700,000 households. We have spent about $744 million to support the most vulnerable households in the country,” he said.

Channy noted that following the Covid-19 lockdowns, the ministry had implemented additional support programmes for those who lost their livelihoods or loved ones to Covid-19. This assistance had cost $8.7 million.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, applauded the emergency support programmes for the poor and vulnerable.

“Helping the impoverished and those affected by natural disasters is a critical function of a just government. The process should be as efficient as possible,” he added.