Cambodia has been at peace since 1998 but remains marked by the legacy of almost 40 years of war and is still largely dependent on international aid. Nevertheless, the country is changing rapidly.
Since 1998 there has been a period of relative political stability and the country has benefited, although to a limited extent, from the region's economic miracle. A veritable, if fragile, development dynamic has seen living conditions improve for an increasing number of inhabitants. The population now has almost permanent access to electricity in large towns and increasingly in rural areas as well. Private and public building work is increasing. The vast majority of children go to school, and maternal and child mortality rates have dropped significantly.
Nevertheless, there is still much poverty and inequality. There is continued corruption and impunity for the richest members of society and numerous problems remain unresolved. The still-fragile economy generates little public revenue, which explains the continued weaknesses in the health and education systems.
The causes of disability are numerous and include disease, mine accidents, and very commonly road accidents, as poor road safety is a major problem in Cambodia. People with disabilities, particularly children, constitute one of the most vulnerable groups in Cambodian society. Support for people with disabilities is not seen to be a priority by the Government, so international organisations remain the front line actors in the disability and rehabilitation sectors.
The problem of anti-personnel mines, laid down in massive numbers over a period of almost 15 years, hinders the development of a country in which 80% of the population live in rural areas. It is estimated that there are several million mines in the country. Cambodia is considered to be one of the most heavily mine-polluted countries in the world, but is also the victim of another curse: sub-munitions. During the Vietnam war (1955-1975), the United States released over 26 million of these weapons over the country.
These bombardments have left up to 5.8 million unexploded devices on the ground. In 2013, Cambodia estimated that at least 1,915 km2 of its territory was still polluted by mines and explosive remnants of war. Demining the country will take many more years.