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Climate change and social protection in Cambodia: linkages and synergies

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M. Stirbu
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Because of its low adaptive capacity, Cambodia is highly vulnerable to climate change events, particularly as the social protection system in Cambodia is still under development. This technical note discusses "adaptive social protection"  - the concept that requires that social protection should consider both short- and long-term shocks and stresses associated with climate change.  It starts by looking at where the country stands at the moment in terms of existing patterns of poverty and vulnerability, burden of disease, human socio-economic security etc. Challenges outlined include:

high poverty and increasing income inequality
high levels of food insecurity and widespread malnutrition
growing exposure to natural disasters
high burden of diseases
inadequate access and quality of basic social services (BSS), including social protection:

The author then looks at the role of social protection in terms of building climate resilience and enhancing the adaptive capacity of vulnerable groups. She makes particular reference to the Cambodian National Social Protection Strategy and the approaches that could be taken in adapting the strategy to adequately address the effects of climate shocks and stresses. The paper concludes that there are benefits to be gained from adapting social protection strategies and instruments to climate change, notably:

direct contribution to poverty and inequality reduction and enhancement of socio-economic security
the strengthening of adaptive capacities of communities and therefore further contribution to reducing poverty, insecurity and vulnerability
environmental improvement, which has a direct impact on reducing health hazards and therefore indirectly contributing to improving overall wellbeing
additional opportunities for communities and individuals to engage in risk-taking and exploring new livelihoods and new sources of income
opportunities for empowering communities to address their own risks and vulnerabilities in a coordinated manner and influence the use of resources including of natural resources and collective goods to everyone’s advantage