Identification of poor households

Project description

Title: Identification of poor households
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Cambodia
Lead executing agency: Cambodian Ministry of Planning
Overall term: 2006 to 2019

Cambodia. A woman uses her Equity Card to receive free health services at a local hospital. © GIZ


The fight against poverty is one of the greatest challenges facing Cambodia. The national poverty reduction strategy can only take effect if development measures, services and social security programmes are targeted at the poor. In order to achieve this, procedures for identifying poor households are required.

Before the project began its work, there was no standardised, universally recognised and nationally applied procedure in Cambodia. This meant poor households could not be sure of access to basic social services. Although they were legally entitled to services such as free medical treatment, they were unable to assert their rights.


The Cambodian Government has officially adopted a standardised procedure for identifying poor households. The data collected serve as a central source of information for governmental and non-governmental organisations implementing measures to improve the situation of the poor.


During a national forum in 2006, after an intensive consultation and coordination process, it was decided that a nationally applicable, standardised procedure for collecting data on poor sections of the population would be developed. The procedure is based on transparency and participation. Village communities elect representatives from among the local population, who help to identify poor households. Following open discussions with village residents, a list of poor households is drawn up for each village in accordance with recognised poverty criteria. The elected representatives then check these lists, make a final decision on the households to be included, and publish the results.

The project is strengthening the capacity of staff at the Ministry of Planning to effectively coordinate and implement the identification process in cooperation with the regional authorities and to ensure it is being carried out properly. GIZ also supports the Ministry of Planning in the process of regularly updating the data and further developing the procedure. The next step will be to develop a procedure for identifying poor households in urban areas. So far, cooperation partners have included the European Commission, the Australian development organisation AusAID, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Results achieved so far

In 2011, the government confirmed that the procedure would continue to be used as the standard method of identifying poor sections of the population. The data are now collected in all provinces and updated every three years.

Cambodia. Interview of a poor household. © GIZ

Over 12,000 villages in rural areas (around 90% of all the villages in the country) have applied the procedure. Approximately 776,000 Equity Cards (identity cards) have been issued to poor households. These cards give poor people access to a number of social services such as free treatment in public health institutions. From 2015, the Ministry of Planning intends to carry out the procedure independently using exclusively state funds.