The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has introduced ID cards for people with disabilities to enhance their access to social services and promote their inclusion in socio-economic activities.

Minister Chea Somethy highlighted the significance of these cards during a ceremony on October 30, saying this move aligns with government policy to ensure the provision of equitable services for people with disabilities.

“While we have made significant strides in improving welfare for people with disabilities, there are still many challenges to address. We must work comprehensively to gather all the necessary information,” he said.

UNICEF representative to Cambodia Will Parks noted that since 2020 – with the backing of the EU – the UN agency has offered technical assistance to the ministry, including training for over 4,000 public officials in the skills required to register and properly identify people with disabilities nationwide.

This initiative will employ mobile apps and the ministry’s website to register approximately 280,000 individuals and issue identification to those registered in the disability management system.

“We anticipate that all identified individuals with disabilities, particularly those from households holding IDPoor cards, will gain advantages from the government’s forthcoming programme, set to launch officially in December this year,” Parks said.

Sorn Sophal, director-general of rehabilitation, noted that previously officials identified disadvantaged individuals with disabilities using the disability memorandum slip. This method, administered by commune working groups, aimed to establish a policy framework for cash assistance to the poor. However, this process has proven to be slow.

“The utilisation of data aids in pinpointing the target demographic for social protection initiatives and various other social services, in alignment with the government’s policy of equitable and inclusive accessibility,” he said.

“This approach also propels the advancement of the disability identification programme, resulting in significant progress. As of October 23, we’ve successfully identified 288,690 individuals with disabilities in various communes. Moreover, we’ve issued 222,148 ID cards to these individuals, equivalent to 32 per cent of the total disabled population nationwide,” he explained.

On July 19, the government issued Sub-Decree 202, and on August 9, Prakas 227 was introduced. These aim to create ID cards for people with disabilities, establishing a common standard using technology for managing this group, thereby improving their access to social services and overall quality of life.

Sophal stated that as of 2023, the programme, aimed at establishing an official cash assistance policy for the underprivileged, has extended its reach to the capital and provinces where 20,000 individuals with disabilities in disadvantaged situations have received support.

The ministry outlined that ID cards for individuals with disabilities are furnished free of charge to those with permanent disabilities who engage in the identification process and meet the requisite criteria.

These cards are categorised into three levels: severe, moderate and mild disabilities. They remain valid until the disability data of an individual is removed from the technical system managing disability records.