The agreement took effect immediately, the UNDP said, adding that the A$4 million will fund further work to strengthen social assistance, support local businesses to adapt to pandemic-related difficulties, and other priorities identified through consultation with the Royal Government of Cambodia and civil society.
The contribution will top up the Australia-UNDP ‘Resilience Fund' – an existing flexible mechanism that provides targeted support to Cambodia's socio-economic response to Covid-19, the UNDP said.
UNDP resident representative Nick Beresford lauded Australia as a “stand-out leader in fast and effective development assistance”, proving itself through what he described as “smart adaptive programming [that is] flexible to specific circumstances”.
“Together we've managed to react quickly to this crisis, providing support to the rapid scale-up of social assistance to those who need it most, and protecting trade and livelihoods too,” he said.
Australian ambassador to Cambodia Pablo Kang noted that Covid-19 poses urgent challenges for Cambodia's economy and the livelihoods of its people.
As a long-term partner and friend, the island nation wants to do everything possible to blunt these impacts, particularly for the most vulnerable, he said.
“Through working with the UNDP, we are also boosting funding to support the work needed now to position Cambodia to make a rapid and inclusive economic recovery from the pandemic,” he said.
UNDP added that to date, the Resilience Fund has played an important role in rolling out Cambodia's emergency cash transfer programme, which has so far delivered $290 million into the pockets of the poorest 693,000 Cambodian households during the pandemic.
Australia and the UNDP has supported this critical government programme by procuring 1,700 computer tablets to identify hundreds of thousands of families impacted by Covid-19 who have become eligible for support, the UNDP said.
It added that the fund has also worked with the Ministry of Economy and Finance on modelling and analysis of impacts of Covid-19 to inform stimulus packages to support the most vulnerable.
The Resilience Fund has facilitated the continuation of safe cross-border trade through the provision of critical protective equipment and sanitation materials to the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia, according to the UNDP.
The fund has also helped small businesses connect with online e-commerce platforms to keep operating during lockdown and participate in the digital economy long-term, it said. - Phnom Penh Post/ANN