Despite the legacy of war, in recent years, the Royal Government has signalled a commitment to and taken steps towards a more comprehensive social protection system. New legislation and strategies have been formulated and institutional structures built to expand the coverage of social security, social assistance and health.
Cambodian public spending on social protection has been on the rise: in 2007, approximately 3% of the GDP (in current prices Riel) was spent. While the Government's fiscal space for increasing social spending is constrained, development partners and NGOs have provided valuable support, with the help of which a range of public social assistance projects and programmes, such as the health equity funds, school feeding and food-for-work initiatives, have been introduced.
The Royal Government is assuming a stronger ownership of the coordination, execution and funding of social protection, as reflected in several recent policy documents. Most recently, the National Social Protection Strategy for the Poor and Vulnerable (NSPS), published in 2011, reaffirmed the commitment to universalising basic transfers and services, based on the expansion of the existing social protection measures and the introduction of new schemes. It builds on prior commitments, such as those found in the Constitution, the Rectangular Strategy for Growth, Employment, Equity and Efficiency Phase II, the National Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013, and international conventions to which Cambodia is a signatory. The NSPS is to guide the horizontal and vertical extension and harmonisation of social protection in the coming years.