Asian Outreach Cambodia

Restoring hope and dignity to Cambodians by breaking the
poverty cycle in rural communities

Many rural families in Cambodia are trapped in a cycle of poverty, struggling to make ends meet every day.

Their poverty is generational, magnified by past years of genocide and civil war. Cambodia's poor number about 4.8 million, and the majority live in rural areas. Most of them rely on agriculture for their livelihood, but at least 12% of poor people are landless. Asian Outreach Cambodia focuses on working together with rural families to loosen poverty’s grip.
the poverty cycle

90% of Cambodians live in rural areas and over 75% of those families depend on agriculture for their livelihood.

Small-scale farmers practice agriculture at the subsistence level using traditional methods. Productivity and output are low; two-thirds of rural households face seasonal food shortages each year. Many rural farmers remain uneducated and do not know how to improve their situation. Without the knowledge of how to maximise production, Cambodian families will continue to struggle to make ends meet.

80% of Cambodians die due to preventable disease through unclean water and inadequate sanitation practices.

80% of the rural population still do not use a latrine or water filtration system, and 50% do not have any access to clean water at all. A widespread absence of basic health knowledge is also a large contributor, leading to preventable diseases, such as typhoid, diarrhoea and TB. The simple addition of regular hand-washing and a clean source of water makes an immediate and lasting difference to rural families.
poor water and sanitation practices
poor child education

57% of children have not completed primary education, and less than 20% finish secondary school.

Due to poverty, 20% of children ages 5-9 are involved in child labour; the number rises to 47% for children ages 10-14. Families cannot afford to buy school uniforms, supplies or to pay fees, and children are unable to attend school without these. Many children are often too sick or malnourished to attend school regularly, and when they do, they find it difficult to engage and retain knowledge, leading to further school dropouts.

34% of Cambodians live on less than $1 per day. The average household makes $70 per month.

At least 12% of poor people are landless, with no way of making an income. Due to lack of income and food security, many adults migrate to other parts of the country, often near the borders, to find employment. The pressures of living on so little push aside the priorities of wealthier people, such as health care, education, clean water sources and maintaining a hygienic environment. For the very poor, daily survival is the only priority.
poor worker
loss of hope

Only 2% of the population are christian. In some rural provinces it can be less than 0.5%.

72% of villages in rural Cambodia do not have a church group. Many villages have not even heard the gospel. There was deep damage done to the older generations who lived through abject poverty, wars and Khmer Rouge brutality, and this pain and dysfunction often becomes the experienced reality for younger generations. Spiritual poverty remains one of the greatest hindrances to transformational change.

AOC is Equipping & empowering rural communities through training & resource development.


helping rural families
for over 25 years

Operating since 1993, Asian Outreach Cambodia is a Christian international non- government organisation (INGO). Our vision is restoring hope and dignity to Cambodians by breaking the poverty cycle in rural communities. Our mission is to equip and empower these rural communities through training and resource development. AOC is locally run and operated, and we believe in the power of local people for a local vision; people who understand the needs and context of their country best.

We are registered as an INGO with the Royal Cambodian Government (RCG) and we have a current Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Rural Development to operate in our target areas. AOC is also accredited by the GPP group of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia as a best practice organisation, something we take pride in, and work hard at maintaining.

History of AOC

AOC has evolved significantly over the past two decades. Birthed out of the need to provide medical and spiritual relief to those displaced after the civil war along the banks of the Mekong River, our early work was among the people of Lvea Em district, in Kandal province.

During the 1990s and early 2000s our focus was primarily medical relief. Basic health care was a primary need among the target community at the time. Some of our key activities involved building community health clinics, health awareness programs for children, a river ambulance (called the Boat of Hope) and hospital evacuation service, mobile health clinics, and medical support for those with TB and HIV/AIDS. During this period AOC partnered closely with the RCG Ministry of Health to build capacity with health workers and clinics.

In the mid 2000s, we handed the operation of medical clinics and other pioneering health programs over to local Ministry of Health employees. Concurrently, AOC began to refocus on providing health education and disease prevention, which required a more long-term, developmental approach. This lead to the development of projects such as water and sanitation, community support for those living with TB and HIV/AIDS, basic health education curriculum for schools, and community based health and hygiene education. AOC also undertook expansion in its target areas too, as projects moved into other districts within Kandal province.

A key moment in AOC’s history occurred in 2007, when organisational directorship was handed over to Thong Romanea, a Cambodian national. This transition, from expatriate to local leadership, has been instrumental in promoting AOC’s local credibility, and in the empowerment of other nationals to work together for their own greater good. Growing up during the Khmer Rouge era provided Romanea with a good understanding of the underlying needs of the nation. Romanea’s leadership propelled the organisation into taking a more holistic, community development approach to its work. He has also overseen significant expansion of AOC’s target areas, firstly into neighbouring Prey Veng province, then into northern Stung Treng.

Today, AOC works in 30 communities across the country, engaging with families, farmers, small business owners, commune and district leaders, schools, government ministries, and the local church, together to bring about the sustained restoration of human dignity and to provide hope for a better future.

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Office Address:
Stung Treng

+855 95 780 930 (English)
+855 12 798 135 (Khmer)
Postal Address:
P.O. Box 484 Phnom Penh, Cambodia