The Sustainable Development Goals is an urgent call for action by all countries. It is a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The Goals interconnect and in order to leave no one behind, it ís important that we achieve each Goal and target by 2030. Through our work empowering communities to reduce inequalities, we focus on the following Sustainable Development Goals:
1 No Poverty
The work of Human and Hope Association is primarily focussed on contributing to this global goal of ending poverty through the work that is done with the local Siem Reap community. This is evidenced in the impact on the individual lives of Cambodians engaged in HHA’s programs, their families and the wider community in which they live.
Cambodia remains the poorest ASEAN country with 35% still living in multidimensional poverty, despite recent economic growth (UNDP 2018). The unequal distribution of economic gains means that many Cambodians, particularly those in rural areas, still have poor health and low levels of education, skills and employment. These ongoing issues make it difficult for families to break the cycle of poverty. With poverty come other issues such as lack of hygiene, poor health, poor school attendance and high school dropout rates.
HHA Cambodia’s programs contribute to the eradication of poverty in Siem Reap on several levels. Between 2014 and 2018, HHA saw 19 families move out of poverty as a direct result of their programs.
2 Quality Education
The attainment of Quality Education for all is the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number four. This includes ensuring a high standard of education that is inclusive and promotes lifelong learning. The work of Human and Hope Association focuses on providing equitable supplementary education to children aged between 5 and 18 in Siem Reap, run by teams of trained Cambodian staff who are dedicated to equipping their community’s future leaders. HHA Cambodia’s education programs include art, English, Khmer, hygiene, living values, Pre-school, library classes and a staff development program.
HHA Cambodia’s Preschool program has prepared and successfully transitioned over 50 children into the Cambodian primary school system, with 98% of students still enrolled in education. By raising funds that go towards this early learning program, HHA Inc is contributing directly towards the attainment of the goal of quality education for all through early education programs, a means that the United Nations sees as “one of the strongest determinants of a child’s readiness for school, in both high-income and low-income countries” (United Nations, 2019, pg. 30).
3 Gender Equality
While there has been substantial progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of gender equality and empowerment of all girls and women, there is still a long list of barriers and harmful realities that stand between the attainment of true gender equality across the globe.
Human and Hope Association Cambodia plays an active role in assisting the community of Siem Reap to address the inequalities between men and women that exist in Cambodian society. Women in Cambodia face additional political, social and economic challenges, including gender-based violence, with 21% of Cambodian women reporting having experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence (UN Women, 2015). By holding regular Domestic Violence Community Workshops, HHA provides families with education regarding the impacts of intimate partner violence while empowering women in the community with knowledge about their rights and engaging perpetrators of violence in lessons aimed at challenging and changing their behaviour.
By continuing to support these vocational initiatives along with the domestic violence workshops, Human and Hope Association Incorporated is ensuring that its fundraising plays a genuine role in assisting the Siem Reap community to work towards achieving gender equality and empowerment for Cambodian girls and women.
4 Decent Work & Economic Growth
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Decent Work and Economic Growth is one that, if achieved, has wide-ranging positive implications for individuals, families and the community at large. HHA Cambodia recognises that by empowering local Cambodian’s to attain decent employment and financial stability, the organisation able to provide a truly sustainable and long-reaching form of local development.
Lay's story is one that highlights the life-changing impact of HHA’s vocational training programs. Lay successfully completed the 10-month sewing and life-skill courses. After he graduated, Lay was found employment at a local sewing shop His job was challenging for him at first, but after a few months, he excelled. Lay now earns around USD$200 per month and has the evenings free to relax with his family and friends, thanks to HHA he has both decent work and as achievable economic growth as a reward for his commitment to developing his abilities.
By providing funds that contribute towards programs such as the one that Lay engaged in, in which he took control of his vocational future and equipped himself with decent employment prospects, Human and Hope Association Incorporated is able to contribute directly towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal of decent work and economic growth in the Siem Reap community.
5 Reduced Inequalities
‘Empowering communities to reduce inequalities’ – that is the mission statement of Human and Hope Association Incorporated (HHA Inc). When discussing Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 10, ‘Reduce Inequalities’, the United Nations acknowledges that while there have been significant global strides towards attaining this goal, “inequality persists and large disparities remain regarding access to health and education services and other assets.” (United Nations). This continues to be the case in Cambodia, and HHA Inc is committed to empowering local Cambodian communities to work towards reducing inequalities.
The two words ‘empowering communities’ are just as integral to HHA Inc’s vision than the idea of reducing inequalities. HHA Inc believes that in order for inequalities to be reduced in a sustainable and ethical manner, the work needs to be locally led rather than the product of Western interference. For HHA Inc, this means taking a strong stance against the recent trend of voluntourism and ensuring that we support development work led and implemented by local community members.
6 Climate Action
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 13 is to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Cambodia currently ranks poorly on the 2018 Environmental Performance Index, sitting at 150 out of 180 countries. Illegal logging, a lack of waste systems and weak environmental governance has resulted in the depletion of natural resources, and villages are often clogged with garbage.
Human and Hope Association is taking action to contribute towards the goal of climate action through the Environmental Sustainability component of its Youth Leadership Program, during which students engage in activities aimed at expanding their understanding of the natural environment around them and the steps they can take to become ethical leaders in their communities.
Participants in the program learn about the urgent need to take climate action during field trips that explore the natural beauty of Cambodia, discussing how they can take better care of their local environments through reflection sessions led by program mentors. The program teaches how each participant can engage in individual action on climate change, focusing on reusing, recycling and reducing waste. Students participate in environment walks where they collect rubbish and promote the importance of waste management to their local community members and take direct climate action by coming together to plant trees in the Sambour Commune. The Environmental Sustainability component of the Youth Leadership Program is a hands-on approach to learning about the environment, aiming to inspire the further pursuit of climate action in the lives of participants.
By immersing students in educational excursions and encouraging them to solve issues in their local communities, the environmental literacy of HHA’s students grows, allowing them to develop into the environmentally ethical leaders their communities need. HHA is playing an important role in combating climate change at a local level, while investing in the environmental awareness of Cambodia’s future leaders.