Today, I am delighted to attend the launch of “the National Population Policy 2016-2030”. This is a historic event in which the Royal Government of Cambodia launches its first long-term population policy, which will cover the next 15 years and significantly contribute to the improvement in people’s life quality in Cambodia.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my high appreciation to H.E. Senior Minister Chhay Than, the leadership and civil servants of the Ministry of Planning for fulfilling your duties with great sense of responsibility to lead and coordinate the preparation of the National Population Policy 2016-2030 in close cooperation with relevant ministries-institutions. This is another effort after Cambodia has been ranked 5th developing countries that achieve the MDGs and ranked first in Asia Pacific in terms of social indicator improvement along with its ambition to become an upper-middle income country by 2030.
At same time, I would like to express sincere thanks to all development partners, in particular the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for providing technical and financial assistance to support Cambodia’s people and development, particularly in the areas of reproductive health as well as maternal and child health. The UNFPA has provided assistance to the Ministry of Planning in the areas of statistics, planning and others in relation to population and development component and more recently the preparation of the national population policy 2016-2030 that we are now launching.
Indeed, over the past two decades, Cambodia has achieved remarkable progress in improving people’s life quality while witnessing gradual socio-economic progress. The Royal Government not only pay close attention to the impact of the unprecedented demographic change on all walks of life, but also incorporate demographic dynamism into the planning process of development program. This means it is imperative to reap the benefit of demographic and other opportunities for national development as well as tackling challenges arising in the new development context.
In the context of such demographic change, the Royal government has updated the National Population Policy 2003, by paying high attention to reducing economic, social and environmental impacts on sustainable development and well-being of Cambodian people caused by demographic change. Overall, this policy is a road map, which covers all sectors within the framework of national development policy, the Rectangle Strategy- Phase 3 and the National Planning Development Strategy 2014-2018 included. In addition, this policy provides a comprehensive planning framework which take into consideration cross-cutting issues including the people, development, demographic change and inclusion of demographic dynamism in planning process as well as defining roles and responsibilities of government’s institutions and stakeholders such as development partners, civil society and communities.
Along with this, I wish to highlight that the formulation of the National Population Policy 2016-2030 followed two principles: (1) adherence to all the principles of the National Population Policy 2003, by recognizing and respecting the rights of spouse and individual to free and responsible decision on the number of children and birth control as well as access to information, education, service and means; (2) highlighting the socio-economic development aspects and demographic situation, analysis of the impact of demographic challenges on the current and future development, and introduction of policies or programs to guide planning process of relevant ministries/institutions.
In this spirit, even though Royal Government is committed to providing necessary supports and creating favorable policy and program environments to implement this population policy successful, but due to the cross-cutting nature of this policy, the implementation would require effort from all stakeholders, either public or private sector, as well as civil society and development partners.
The launch of this population policy is an important task but transforming this policy into actual implementation through the preparation of work plan is even more important. Therefore, to achieve our final objective, which is the improvement of the people’s life quality by considering “people as means for development and final objective of development,” it requires concerted effort and strong determination to transform our common objective into actual implementation. In the spirit of realizing this objective, I would like to provide key messages for relevant ministries-institutions to pay attention on framework as follows:
First: the Ministry of Planning through the secretariat of population and development must cooperate with relevant ministries-institutions to accelerate the preparation of “Action Plan 2016-2018” which is a detailed medium-term action plan, and indicators, milestones, and certain actions are determined as tools in monitoring and evaluating the progress of development of National Policy on People 2016-2030. This Action Plan must be consistent with the policy orientation and programs raised in this National Population Policy 2016-2030.
Second: relevant ministries-institutions must work together with the Ministry of Planning to ensure effective coordination to prepare and implement this work plan. The relevant ministries-institutions, especially Ministry of Economy and Finance must prioritize budget allocation through “Program Budgeting” to ensure the successful implementation of this work plan.
Third: the Ministry of Planning must continue to cooperate with relevant ministries-institutions to assess the possibility of formulating policies or strategies related to demographic dynamism such as the aged people, migration and urbanization, youth’s reproductive health aimed at reducing negative impacts of demographic change on development and ensuring sustainable development that cover all life cycles of the people to help promote the quality of life and people’s welfare.
Fourth: competent ministries-institutions must pay attention to human resource development aimed at maximizing benefit from demographic dividend to accelerate socio-economic development through the provision of skills and vocational training to youths in a bid to enhance their competence and competitiveness in domestic, regional and global labor markets as well as productivity and income.
By firmly believing that the leadership and officials of the Ministry of Planning, related ministries and subnational authorities will participate with determination, ownership and high responsibility, I expect that the implementation of National Population Policy 2016-2030 will be successful and effective.
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Campaign to Provide People with Water Goes On
While we are working in here, the whole country is in largest ever campaign to provide people with drinking water. It is true in the last days, there had been some rains in some areas, though coming along with strong wind that brought people’s homes down, providing people chances to collect rainwater for consumption. While in some areas rains left water in rice fields, canals, etc. in some areas, grass grows green again for animals.
However, I am taking this chance to clarify that this campaign is far from over and we must go on in the whole country until our people are sure to have sufficient water. Though rainwater may have responded to their need, the campaign no longer needs to provide them with drinking water we have to transform our efforts from providing drinking water to restoring and/or drilling reservoirs and wells. We must get ourselves ready for future drought for the years to come.
We must take further and synchronized actions to fulfil this mission. I would take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to national institutions and sub-national authorities as well as the armed forces, charitable people and the Cambodian Red Cross for continued actions to respond to what we are currently facing and making preparation for future disaster of that sort.
Drought Disaster in 100 Years after Flood in 2000
I would affirm once again that this is a sort of disaster that in unprecedented and worst of all within a period of 100 years in Cambodia. This year disaster gives us lessons after what we had learnt from flood disaster in 2000, after which we had to build roads, bridges, houses, pagodas, schools, etc. on ground that is higher than the flood level in that year. This drought disaster also teaches us to dig wells to a deeper water table. The experience in Svay Rieng where some 600 wells dried out was a huge lesson. We now have to drill wells deeper than previous water tables […]
Cambodian Red Cross to Use Charitable Donation for Wells and Ponds
I think that on 8 May, the Cambodian Red Cross will organize its celebration. I would appeal to the Cambodian Red Cross, national and sub-national levels to manage and use of charitable fund of 2016 to provide drinking water to people … I suggest that we are making effort this year to make use of charitable fund for providing people with water ponds and wells. We may have resolved problem for this year but we must prepared for years to come. We need to dig more ponds and drill more wells as the region and the whole world are bracing with climate change impacts.
Drought affects every country, only at different scale. Some country with better resources and infrastructure are able to deal with it more competently, take for instance Vietnam and Thailand. They have better water infrastructures than Cambodia does. Let alone their irrigation system. I may share with Ambassadors, development partners present that in Stoeng Treng province, over 300 buffaloes and cows died of thirst. You may learn that it is Cambodians’ habit of letting their buffaloes and cows into the forest after they harvested rice. Those animals then wandered and died of having no water.
Short Reports from Provincial Governors
Now that rain has come to moisturize soil, we have been facing with other incidents of strong wind that bring down houses and lightning. Areas where strong wind caused damages to people’s homes, the authority, the armed forces and the Cambodian Red Cross must take immediate actions to save people. There have been incidents that caused loss of lives. We must be ready to help people through their difficulties. I need updates on daily basis. I would not wait for update on a weekly basis. Provincial governors must prepare a short report about whether or where rain has come and what is the status of water distribution for people who need it?
Provincial Governors to Attend No Meetings in Phnom Penh
I wish to issue once again my order not to organize any meetings that would require presence of the provincial governors here in Phnom Penh. There will be no more meetings in Phnom Penh so that provincial governors would be able to stay where he needs to be to lead the campaign to deal with this calamity and ministers and leaders of central level institutions can also take local actions too. Provincial governors need to be in the campaign to command and follow up developments. We all need to take our presences and actions to local levels […] There will be an annual conference of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on 12 May. I would recommend inviting only head of provincial agricultural offices, or possibly, deputy governors. Do not invite provincial governors. I would need them to be in their provinces. I would also take part in the conference before my visit to Russia for ASEAN-Russia summit. I allow one more of the meeting of that sort but there will not be presence of provincial governors.
Where Drinking Water Sufficient, Take Actions to Restore, Drill Ponds/Wells
… That is quality of life. People or human are means to develop and objectives of development too. For whom are we doing things? We are doing for people. People are means of development. They also are objectives of what we are doing. I wish to remind and appeal that we must take further actions. Where drinking water is sufficient, for the sake of rains, we must transform our actions into restoring and/or drilling news ponds and/or wells in preparation for unexpected calamity in the future. I am so happy to see that we have mobilized forces to do what is possible to help people in difficult times […]
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Finally, I would like to excellencies, ladies and gentlemen good health, strength and success in all your endeavors.
May I now declare the launch of the National Population Policy 2016-2030.