Tackling nutrition challenges in Cambodia

Cambodia has made important gains in improving its economy and reducing poverty, which has translated into rapid improvements in the health of its people. From 2000 to 2014, life expectancy for Cambodians increased from 66 to 71 years, and maternal and under-5 mortality dropped significantly.

However, the country continues to face challenges in delivering quality health and nutrition services for women, children and adolescents, and maternal and child undernutrition remains a significant challenge. Although child stunting has declined over the past 30 years, stunting rates remain high at 32 percent. Maternal undernutrition is common: 14 percent of women of reproductive age are underweight and nearly half suffer from anemia. These trends, in addition to poor health and nutrition during pregnancy, contribute to high stunting rates and maternal and neonatal mortality.

Improvements in service delivery over the past two decades have resulted in increases in the number of facility-based deliveries, antenatal care visits and other maternal and child health services. To build on these successes, in December 2017 the government, supported by the Global Financing Facility (GFF), launched a process to identify priorities in an investment case, a country-led plan for health and nutrition. These priorities include reducing neonatal mortality, lowering teenage pregnancy, and addressing child undernutrition, with a focus on seven priority provinces.

To support these  objectives, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved the Cambodia Nutrition Project on April 4 to improve utilization and quality of maternal and child health and nutrition services for women and children, with an emphasis on populations in Cambodia’s rural, remote, indigenous regions. The project is financed by IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, the GFF, and the Cambodia Health Equity and Quality Improvement (H-EQIP) trust fund, which is financed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia), KfW (Germany), and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

For more information on the project, please visit: