Cambodia | ActionAid UK


ActionAid began operating in Cambodia in 1999. An important part of our work involves helping people to discover their rights after years of oppression.

Why we work in Cambodia

In 1975 the nation was torn apart when the radical communist Khmer Rouge seized power. Up to two million people died, many from exhaustion or starvation, while others were tortured and executed.

Following a Vietnam-led invasion, the Khmer Rouge’s murderous rule ended in 1979.

Cambodia’s rich culture and ancient temples make it a haven for more than a million visitors every year. However, corruption is still deep-rooted and around one-third of the population lives on less than US$1 a day.



Life for women is extremely hard in Cambodia. Women living in rural areas are very likely to experience domestic violence, sexual assault and land grabbing, and in cities, where criminal activity is everywhere, women are especially vulnerable to sexual violence in public places.

Cambodia has one of the least educated populations in the region — 40% of women are illiterate compared to 22% of men. Many children do not attend school because their parents can’t afford it or because they are needed to work to earn money for the family.

The country is also vulnerable to floods, droughts and insect infestations. These affect crops, destroy homes and force villagers to move to safer ground. As the majority of Cambodians depend upon their crops for food, when disasters hit they struggle to feed their families.


Yei Tha, 70 farmer living in O'Rum Cheik village,in Ruka Kiri district of Battambang province is very happy to see her grandchildren can go to school and get better education.

Yei Tha, 70 is a farmer from Battambang province. Thanks to an agricultural training run by ActionAid and our local partner, she now earns enough to send her grandchildren to school.

Photo: Savann Oeurm/ActionAid

What we do in Cambodia

We support rural women to establish community savings groups. Members can borrow and repay money, interest free and get help to start small businesses. This helps women afford to send their children to school. Our Safe Cities Programme is targeting the local and national authorities to ensure they improve the safety of women and girls vulnerable to violence in cities.

To help day labourers who cannot earn money for food when the floods arrive, we provide rice loans. And to help farmers boost food production we provide training on crop diversification and new techniques. Farmers who receive training share their knowledge with the rest of the community.

ActionAid runs regular workshops for parents on the importance of children going to school and we work with teachers and parent groups to improve the quality of education. We also identify the children most likely to drop out due to poverty and provide school uniform and bag, notebooks, pens and pencils so they can continue their lessons.

How we’re changing lives for good in Cambodia

Read stories of women and girls we’ve helped.


Photos: Charles Fox/ActionAid, Savann Oeurm/ActionAid