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Country Mapping: Cambodia

Cambodia was WFDD's first country-level mapping project and has provided a model for current explorations in Bangladesh, Senegal, Kenya, and Guatemala conducted jointly with the Berkley Center. Cambodia has an overwhelmingly Buddhist population (95 percent), and much of the country’s character and identity is deeply influenced by this religious heritage; however, the country also has small but significant religious minorities with historic roots. Cambodia’s religious communities were intensely persecuted under the Khmer Rouge regime, which took control of the country in 1975. Although only four years in length, the era left as many as two million dead and had wide-ranging implications for Cambodian development that are still significant to this day.
After several decades of intense focus by the international development community, Cambodia continues to face numerous and varied development challenges. Approximately 30 percent of its 14.5 million inhabitants live below the national poverty line and many human development indicators are low. Governance challenges, including corruption, are serious concerns. Due to the Cambodian government’s limited capacity to provide some basic services, civil society actors have continued to fill gaps.

It is estimated that 3,000 local and international NGOs are active on the ground in Cambodia, many founded on religious principles. Since 2009, WFDD’s mapping of religion and development in Cambodia highlights faith-inspired organizations and religious institutions active in sectors including education, health, water, sanitation, poverty reduction, and gender equality. In the post-Khmer Rouge era, local Buddhist communities have also become increasingly socially engaged in issues such as the environment and sustainable livelihoods. Throughout Cambodia Buddhist pagodas serve as key cultural institutions and community centers, and therefore can offer entry points for international development actors working at the local level.
Country Mapping: Cambodia


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