People in Need Cambodia Promotes Digitalisation through its Development ProjectsPublished: Oct 23, 2022 Reading time: 7 minutes
Every year, the development world celebrates "World Development Information Day" (WDID), which aims to highlight the necessity of strengthening international cooperation among stakeholders to find ways to tackle development problems.
Globally, this day speaks to numerous international development partners, non-government organisations, and other members of civil society to work closely together, along with national governments and other stakeholders, to achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We have seen global cooperation become more evident—and more important—during the COVID-19 outbreak, wherein countries worked together to provide information and resources to support their citizens. However, existing development challenges were strained, creating further socio-economic divides within society. Through "World Development Information Day", strengthened international cooperation becomes the call for all governments and development institutions to collaborate to find new solutions to address global development challenges.
Although the pandemic has affected global economies and well-being, governments have implemented policies to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on businesses and people's incomes to support economic recovery. These efforts have led to the recognition of bringing together stakeholders from both public and private sectors to build bridges and connect the socio-economic divides, such as inequality, access to information, and employment, amongst others. Indeed, WDID should not only be acknowledged for a day but as a daily reminder that collective effort can only bring the world together to address global issues that can contribute to sustainable development.
As physical isolation and social distancing became requirements for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, people had to find a way to access essential goods and services. Hence, people began to appreciate technology through its convenience and efficiency in accessing daily services. Although technology allowed people to order food, communicate, and continue with their jobs from the comfort of their homes, a portion of the world remained disconnected without the luxury of access to technology. The pandemic has raised the question of how technology, as a tool, can help tackle existing development challenges, most especially with the current COVID-19 issues the world is facing.
People in Need in Cambodia
Since 2008, we, People in Need (PIN), have provided humanitarian aid and development in Cambodia. With our diverse portfolio, we have implemented multifaceted projects in all provinces of Cambodia. Our work covers disaster management, urban resilience, green energy, sustainable livelihoods, and technical and vocational training. We work to ensure that the goals of our projects will contribute towards realising the Sustainable Development Goals.
Through our human-centric approach alongside technological adaptation for development projects in Cambodia, we have worked to insulate the livelihoods of both rural and urban communities from the effects of COVID-19, build community resilience to natural disasters, and develop the skills of Cambodia's youth through TVET programmes. In addition, we have worked to strengthen small and local businesses, enable employment opportunities for persons living with disability, and address the challenges of climate change. With our global multi-sectoral portfolio, we strive to put innovation and technology at the core of our support to communities most vulnerable to existing development issues.
"Since the outbreak, we had to re-strategise our approach to our projects. How can we tackle existing development issues together with recovery from COVID-19?" says Lukas Laube, Country Director of People in Need in Cambodia. "We thought about the use of technology – bridging the 'digital divide' to ensure inclusiveness in all of our projects –may it be social, economic, or environmental inclusion", Lukas says, going further.
Digitalisation has become an essential aspect across humanitarian and development projects globally. In Cambodia, the Royal Government of Cambodia has embraced digitalisation, stating that it is one of the priorities in the Rectangular Strategy Phase IV.1 Indeed, digitalisation can bring enormous opportunities to boost socio-economic growth in countries, spurring innovation and helping people access services better.
At PIN Cambodia, we promote the use and benefits of technology in urban and rural areas to educate communities, support livelihoods, develop skills, and contribute to poverty eradication. Through the power of social media, we have reached more than 1 million people on our Facebook page, sharing knowledge on safety measures against COVID-19, tips on natural disaster preparedness, access to educational and vocational training courses, and opportunities to grow local businesses.
For instance, our Early Warning System (EWS) 1294 project helps address disaster risk reduction (DRR) and preparedness by using a whole system5 to send early warning messages to people to prepare them for incoming natural disasters. This technology was developed in 2013 and has become Cambodia's multi-hazard early warning system. Moreover, EWS 1294 was used to share safety messages and alerts on COVID-19 nationwide. Through the EWS system, early warnings have become more accessible to many people through other platforms, such as public loudspeakers and radio broadcasting.
Similarly, technology has been recognised as a tool to support local, small, and medium-sized (SMEs) businesses to "bounce back" from the economic hardships caused by the pandemic. The Urban Resilience project, funded by the European Union, empowers small businesses and entrepreneurs through financial literacy courses, digital marketing and sales courses, the provision of startup funds and tailored consulting services to drive businesses in boosting local economies. These small businesses have started investing their time in better marketing their products through online platforms.
The RECOVER project—funded by the European Union and Czech Republic Development Agency (CzDA)—focuses on alternative livelihoods in the provinces of Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham, Battambang, and others. The project supports poultry farmers in developing their skills through more sustainable practices and technologies, such as raising chickens using incubators powered by renewable energy sources. Farmers can sell higher quality products that compete in the local market through their newly acquired knowledge and skills.
In addition, another European Union-funded project, SWITCH to Solar, promotes the transition to cleaner and greener energy use. The project provides technical support to local solar technology providers on digital marketing and sales courses; the objective is to improve their business operations. Local farmers are also provided with the knowledge to understand the benefits of solar technology on their farms.6 The transition to green solutions contributes to improved livelihoods for Cambodia's rural and urban communities. This change also contributes to the overall well-being of people and the environment. The solar technologies promoted through the project can ensure better safety and higher quality of food processing through more sustainable and greener technologies.
To contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically: "Quality Education" (SDG 4), "Decent Work and Economic Growth" (SDG 8), and "Reduced Inequalities" (SDG 10), PIN Cambodia empowers young individuals and persons with disabilities through the technical and vocational education and training (TVET). In partnership with local TVET centres, technical training on agro-food processing, mechanics, and information technology, amongst others, have been provided to youth. Furthermore, to promote inclusive employment, business training is being provided to persons with disabilities to empower them individually and link them accordingly with employers and business opportunities.
"As we celebrate World Development Information Day, development actors, such as PIN, will play an important role in ensuring that multi-stakeholder collaboration will prosper to effectively address global development issues. We would like to express our continued commitment to support the Royal Government of Cambodia towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through our projects in Cambodia", shares Lukas.
Technology alone cannot address development issues; it has to be embedded into development projects to ensure that nobody is left behind. International cooperation is essential to better understand the needs of communities from the ground up to the policy level to address development challenges globally.
People in Need will open its doors to opportunities where support is needed, especially from the most vulnerable groups in society, to address global development challenges.
To learn more about PIN Cambodia's projects, please visit our microsite here: https://cambodia.peopleinneed.net/en/