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4.5.2 Disability in Cambodia

Statistics about people with disabilities in Cambodia vary widely, with estimations ranging from as low as 2.2% (Socio-economic survey, 1997) to as high as 15% (ADB, 1999). Polio and landmine accidents are among the main causes for impairments. The number of persons with a hearing impairment is also high (300,000).

People with disabilities are one of the most vulnerable groups in Cambodian society. They are generally the poorest among the poor with very limited access to resources, basic social services, education, vocational training, job placement, and income generation opportunities, thus exacerbating their poverty. In addition, they are seen as a group of people who often feel hopeless, lonely, and isolated, and do not receive sufficient affection from families, relatives, and friends. This social behaviour puts pressure on people with disabilities, and represents the greatest challenge for any organisations working for the full inclusion of people with disabilities. Often the capacities of people with disabilities are not recognised, and they face social and economic marginalisation as a consequence.

Disability stakeholders

There are a limited number of disability stakeholders at both the national and provincial level. On the governmental side, several ministries are responsible, such as the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MOSVY), the Ministry of Education, Youths and Sports (MOEYS), and the Ministry of Health.

The Disability Action Council (DAC) is a parastatal organisation which is the official body for coordination among all disability stakeholders. 

The Cambodian Disabled Person's Organisation (CDPO), the National Centre of Disabled Persons (NCDP), Action on Disability and Development (ADD) and the Association of the Blind in Cambodia (ABC) can be considered as the main organisations of and for people with disabilities. They are all based in Phnom Penh, with some branches at district level.

In addition, some INGOs also play an important role in the disability sector, such as World Vision, Handicap International or Veterans International.       

In general the disability movement in Cambodia is still weak for several reasons. It is imperative to recognise that one of the key disability players, has been undergoing an extensive period of restructuring. The working process and approaches of most disability organisations are highly dependent on international organisations, donors and the government. In addition, the support of the government for the disability sector remains limited. However, the legislative environment on disability seems to have improved since a specific national law entitled the "Protection and Promotion of the Rights of People with Disabilities" is soon to be approved, while the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities has been signed by the government.

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