Poverty Reduction among Youth in Cambodia
Poverty Reduction among Youth in Cambodia


Cambodia has entered a period where youth is the predominant proportion of its population with more than 50 percent being youth aged below 25 years old and 20.6 percent between 15 and 24. The current context of this demographic dividend has posed both an opportunity and a challenge to Cambodia. One of Cambodia’s major economic and social challenges is to create decent and productive employment opportunities for the estimated 300,000 new entrants to the labour market every year while at the same time ensuring that young people have access to skills and to quality education and business training while ensuring the respect of their rights at work. There is therefore an urgent need to foster the creation of decent job opportunities for young women and men, including through enterprise and skills development in view to meet current and future demands for labour while decreasing the share of vulnerable employment.
Acquiring skills that are transferable to the labour market will improve access of youth to employment opportunities also in Cambodia, in particular in the context of the ASEAN Economic Integration. The Government has rightly emphasized skills as part of Cambodia’s Rectangular Strategy for Growth, Employment, Equity and Efficiency. With the opening of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC 2015) and the free flow of skilled labor in targeted trades, there is a need to capitalize on Cambodia’s youthful population and on the demographic dividend. Its window of opportunity will only remain open for a limited time. Also, raising the skills of the work force is identified as the country’s greatest challenge to trade expansion.

Towards a Solution

The overall aim of the India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) Funded project implemented by UNV and the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoYES) aims at increasing the ability of Cambodian youth to build their skills and find decent work through volunteerism, as well as to contribute to their own development and the economic development of their country by reducing poverty amongst them.
Fostering cross-country transfer of knowledge, the project team received volunteers from countries of the Global South and North, such as Cambodia, China, India, Republic of Korea and Thailand. In total, the team received 16 onsite volunteers, 11 of whom are national volunteers from Cambodia, six of them women. One volunteer from China contributed with his ICT and communication expertise to building the online “Youth Volunteer for Cambodia” platform. Through this platform, hundreds of youths have increased access to volunteering information and opportunities
Though having been recently launched, the platform, which is under the administration and management of MoYES, is believed to continue benefiting thousands of Cambodian youths across the country in the future to come, showing sustainable impacts of the project.
Innovative project activities include the Assessment of Youth Centers, pilot initiative Volunteering for Community Service, pilot program Volunteering for Social Entrepreneurship, Youth Volunteering and Employability Activities; study tours and visit from Indian youth to Cambodia; pilot program for Volunteering During National School Holiday; International Volunteer Day and National Forum on Volunteerism; and Youth Volunteerism Outreach Sessions. In addition, there were activities related to Cambodia’s Entrepreneurship Day, Dream Magazine and Thematic Workshops.

From the beginning, the project mobilized more than 1,450 volunteers.  Through the project, 10 knowledge projects were produced, and 14,172 participants were reached. Volunteers have benefited from various volunteering programs which as a result equipped them with necessary skills such as communication, international, problem-solving, teamwork, presentation, leadership, time-management and resource mobilization skill that are transferable to the job market.

To ensure sustainability, the project was integrated into the UN Joint Programme on Youth Employment in Cambodia. In collaboration with MoYES, and strongly supported by the Resident Coordinator’s Office and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNV supported knowledge exchange activities on youth empowerment.

Capacity within the MoYES, particularly the provincial youth centres, has been built through their role within program implementation and one initiative has already been upscaled this year to a Government initiative,

Volunteer for My Community (VMC), which has been being implemented in 12 provinces across Cambodia benefiting more than 200 youth volunteers and 2,396 youths (both in-school and out-of-school youths) and people in the community so far.

The Government contributed USD 85,400 for trainings and monitoring of Volunteer for My Community initiative. The initiative also received additional support from local communities in each province, with an estimated total of USD 38,912.

The Government has already committed to upscaling the VMC initiative to 17 provinces in 2020 with a budget of USD 85,450.

Contact Information

Ms. Manon Bernier, Deputy Regional Manager for Asia and the Pacific, UNV Bangkok Mr. Rafael Martinez, Partnership Development Specialist, UNV Bonn

Supported by

United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), Government of China, Government Brazil, Government of India and Government of South Africa (through the IBSA Fund)

Countries involved


Implementing Entities

United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Ministry of Education Youth and Sports (MoYES) of Cambodia

Project Status


Project Period

2017 - 2020

URL of the practice

https://www.mfa.gov.sg/Overseas-Mission/ASEAN/Latest-News-in-ASEAN/2019/08/Youth-entrepreneurs-celebrate-community-development-spirit-in-ASEAN http://iaveap2019.org/keynote-presenter/

Primary SDG

04 - Quality Education

Secondary SDGs

04 - Quality Education, 08 - Decent Work and Economic Growth, 17 - Partnerships for the Goals