The city of Prey Veng is situated about two hours to the east of the capital city Phnom Penh. Around 1.1 million people live in the region. In rural areas, families live off agriculture and fishing. They mostly grow rice but other products such as tobacco, sugar and cassava are also grown.
The area was badly affected by the historical conflict and the resulting social and economic conditions continue to be felt. Many families have moved away from Prey Veng in search of work, either to other areas in Cambodia or abroad.
Since 2019, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Prey Veng.
Internal migrants comprise a large segment of the population in Cambodia. Estimates from 2017 showed that around 1.1 million people were migrating to and from Cambodia. A quarter of all internal migration is rural to urban, which has led to significant growth in cities. Men who migrate work as construction workers, drivers, business owners and white-collar professionals. Women tend to work in professions with lower pay such as garment or domestic workers. While some children move with their parents, others are left in the care of relatives. They are more likely to drop out of school to work themselves, or to help out with household chores.
Around 55% of children in Cambodia drop out of school by the time they are 17 years old. Prey Veng is a rural area where children often leave school to help their families with chores or in the fields.
Many children also suffer from malnutrition. If continuously underweight, a child may often be sick, and will likely struggle to learn well in school. In addition, children often get sick from preventable diseases. In spite of recent improvements, schools in rural areas tend to have poor sanitation facilities.