More than 250,000 persons with disabilities have been identified, despite some officials still displaying a “limited understanding” of the different types of disability, says Sann Ratana, director of the Department of Disability Welfare at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation.

He said registration began in August 2020, with information technology management systems used to determine the type of disability.

“The identification of persons with disabilities is very important because it means we can issue them with identity cards that mean they can access support services from the public and private sectors.

“We do face several obstacles and challenges. Awareness of disabilities remains limited among many commune officials, families and communities,” he continued.

Sann Ratana said the issuance of ID cards for people with disabilities is slower than expected because some of the programme implementation officers at the commune level are untrained on the use of the app which is used to register people.

Chhor Ponnaroth, programme officer of Disability Cambodia, said it was the fact that the government was arranging for people with disabilities to have ID cards was a positive development. The cards meant they could access various benefits, depending on their kind of disability. This included social assistance packages, health services, educational services and emergency intervention in case of a natural disaster.

The registration also helps target specific job opportunities for disabled persons.

“There are some shortcomings in the issuance process. Phnom Penh and several provinces seem to be slightly reticent in sharing information on how to apply, and on just what benefits it can provide,” he said.

He said the issue was that several of the officials tasked with conducting interviews had an inadequate depth of knowledge relating to disabilities. This created an uneven experience for interviewees.

“In order to address these issues, I suggest that further training be provided to these officials. The cards are a valuable resource for the disabled persons in Cambodia, and I would like to see as many of them benefit as possible,” he said.

“Local authorities, including commune and village chiefs, need to offer more support to persons with disabilities. Many of them face mobility issues, so the authorities should be prepared to interview them in their homes,” he added.