The vast majority of Cambodians continue to live in poverty and lack choices for their future despite their country's rapid economic growth, according to a government report released Thursday.
Widening inequalities in incomes, child malnourishment, children dropping out of school at an early age, high maternal mortality rates and rising land conflicts are among the hardships of the rural poor, according to the Cambodia Human Development Report 2007 released on Thursday.
At the same time, the Cambodian economy has been one of the fastest growing in Asia, expanding at 11.4 percent in each of the past three years.
But "further beneath the surface of double-digit growth rates, potentially serious imbalances and challenges to recent achievements are emerging," said the report, whose research and publication was financed by the United Nations development agency, UNDP.
Other grim pictures include the fact that each year some 30,000 Cambodian children die from preventable causes such as malaria, dengue fever and diarrhea, it said.
It warned that the problems could spell "major setbacks" for Cambodian economic growth, which has so far been concentrated in urban areas.
Some 35 percent of Cambodia's 14 million people live below the national poverty line of just 1,826 riel (US$0.45 (euro0.32) ) a day.
Cambodia's recent economic growth has been fueled largely by the garment industry. Last year's exports were worth US$2.6 billion (euro1.8 billion), accounting for nearly 80 percent of total exports.
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