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The TWG-FSN started working on a more systematic and integrated Social Safety Net (SSN) development in Cambodia

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Food prices were soaring in 2008 and eroded the purchasing power of the poor and the current global financial and economic crisis threatens to impact employment and income in the Garment, Tourism, and Construction sectors of Cambodia. In order to avoid a decline in living conditions for poor and vulnerable people, social protection measures are important to mitigate the impact of macro economic shocks. However, also in normal times they complement growth oriented poverty reduction playing an important role to protect the poor against risks and to promote their human capital.

Cambodia has implemented many projects and programs since the last 20 years to rehabilitate the country, to respond to emergency situation, and to improve food security and livelihoods involving targeted social transfers and welfare activities. However, Social Safety Net measures were often patchy, temporarily and based on projects.

In December 2008, the Cambodia Development Cooperation Forum (CDCF) delegated the task to carry out a scoping and mapping exercise on social safety nets and to develop a more systematic and better integrated SSN system in Cambodia to the Technical Working Group on Food Security and Nutrition /TWG-FSN), co-chaired by Council for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) and Ministry of Planning (MoP).

The Technical Working Group on Food Security and Nutrition had its first meeting on Social Safety Net the 10th February 2009 to start up the discussion with all relevant Government institutions, development partner and civil society representatives. The meeting was chaired by H.E. Ngy Chanphal, 2nd Vice Chairman of CARD and Secretary of State of Ministry of Interior and had the objectives to share the understanding of and experiences with Social Safety Net in Cambodia as well as to discuss the draft terms of reference of an "Interim Working Group on SSN" which should be established to further coordinate the work.

The lively discussion showed the principal interest of stakeholders on this important issue and the readiness to support the further work of the CARD and the "Interim Working Group on SSN". It was agreed to start the mapping and scoping exercise of SSN with a broader approach including also social insurance schemes and than focus more on SSN measures (defined as targeted non-contributory systems). It was further expressed to tap the rich experiences the country has with social protection over many years. The tasks and the tentative work plan of the "Interim Working Group on SSN" for 2009 were presented and discussed.

The meeting agreed to include relevant line ministries and development partner in the sub-group on SSN which were previously not members of the TWG-FSN but to keep this group under the TWG-FSN chaired by CARD. Ongoing and upcoming projects on SSN, although implemented through other structures, should share information and lessons learnt with this group and actively support the development of an integrated strategy on SSN.

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