Tag: Cambodia

Title: Child work and labour among orphaned and abandoned children in five low and middle income countries

Authors: Rachel Whetten, Lynne Messer, Jan Ostermann, Kathryn Whetten, Brian Pence, Megan Buckner, Nathan Thielman, Karen O’Donnell, and The Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO) Research Team

Date: Jan. 13, 2011



The care and protection of the estimated 143,000,000 orphaned and abandoned children (OAC) worldwide is of great importance to global policy makers and child service providers in low and middle income countries (LMICs), yet little is known about rates of child labour among OAC, what child and caregiver characteristics predict child engagement in work and labour, or when such work infers with schooling. This study examines rates and correlates of child labour among OAC and associations of child labour with schooling in a cohort of OAC in 5 LMICs.


The Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO) study employed a two-stage random sampling survey methodology to identify 1480 single and double orphans and children abandoned by both parents ages 6-12 living in family settings in five LMICs: Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, and Tanzania. Regression models examined child and caregiver associations with: any work versus no work; and with working <21, 21-27, and 28+ hours during the past week, and child labour (UNICEF definition).


The majority of OAC (60.7%) engaged in work during the past week, and of those who worked, 17.8% (10.5% of the total sample) worked 28 or more hours. More than one-fifth (21.9%; 13% of the total sample) met UNICEF’s child labour definition. Female OAC and those in good health had increased odds of working. OAC living in rural areas, lower household wealth and caregivers not earning an income were associated with increased child labour. Child labour, but not working fewer than 28 hours per week, was associated with decreased school attendance.


One in seven OAC in this study were reported to be engaged in child labour. Policy makers and social service providers need to pay close attention to the demands being placed on female OAC, particularly in rural areas and poor households with limited income sources. Programs to promote OAC school attendance may need to focus on the needs of families as well as the OAC.

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Study Title: Cambodia Orphan Project Evaluation

Context: Save the Children Australia has established support services for more than 9,500 children in Cambodia, providing food, health services, educational support, shelter, psychosocial counseling and livelihood training to orphans in need. A unique feature of this program, funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, is that services are delivered through monks living in pagodas. Our role is to evaluate the effectiveness of this program.

Study Aims: This study evaluates the monk-led intervention by comparing orphans receiving their services with orphans not receiving any care and orphans who participated in the Positive Outcomes for Orphans study (POFO – see pofostudy.org for more information).

Methods: Over a three year period researchers are collecting quantitative and qualitative data from 200 orphans and caregivers in Siem Reap and Prey Veng who are receiving services and a total of 100 orphans and caregivers not receiving services in Siem Reap and Prey Veng to account for regional differences in care.

Policy Implications:

  1. If the monk-led intervention is shown to be effective, it will provide a model of care for children who are orphaned or abandoned in the region.

M-Principal Investigators: Sarah LeGrand (Duke University), Vanroth Vann (Homeland, Cambodia), Kathryn Whetten (Duke University)

Investigator: Jan Ostermann (Duke University)

Contact: duke.ovcstudies@gmail.com

Study Title: Explaining the Expansion of Institutions in Battambang Province

Context: According to a 2009 UNICEF statistic, there are an estimated 630,000 orphans in Cambodia, 12,000 of whom currently reside in orphanages. Although some institutions provide services specific to the needs of certain populations of vulnerable children (victims of sexual trafficking, children living with HIV, street children, and children with disabilities), a 2011 UNICEF report revealed that a majority of the 12,000 children in Cambodia’s orphanages have one living parent; 28% of children in orphanages have lost both parents. Furthermore, the number of children in care has more than doubled in five years. In Cambodia’s northwest province of Battambang, the number of orphanages has more than quadrupled from 11 to 45 over the last decade.

Study Aims: This study aims to better understand the reasons for institutional expansion in Battambang Province. Through a series of qualitative interviews with orphanage directors and caregivers, the study will help us to understand the reasons underlying the expansion in the number of orphanages in the region.

Methods: A stratified random sample of 15 orphanages in Battambang was contacted for participation in this study.  Orphanages were stratified based on four criteria: size, length of presence in the province, foreign/locally-run institutions, and religious affiliation. A series of 45-minute interviews are being conducted with the directors of selected institutions to better understand the reasons that they opened the institution, why children are sent to live in orphanages as well as to learn more about the services provided by these institutions. A small sample of 7-10 parents/caregivers in the Ek Phnom District will also be interviewed to gain more direct information about the reasons why Battambang Province families send their children to institutions.  Questions regarding the socio-economic background of the family, the reasons for sending children to institutions and the perception of need in the local community will be asked of each participant.  The participating individuals will be the parents/caregivers of scholarship students at the Khmer Center for Development (an afternoon-English program in Ek Phnom District, Battambang Province) whose child/children is/are currently placed in institutional care.

Policy Implications:

  • The study will provide relevant information regarding why orphanages are being opened at such a quick pace in the Battambang region. This knowledge could lead to similar studies in other areas.

Principal Investigator: Leila Dal Santo (Duke University)

Investigators: Vanroth Vann (Homeland, Cambodia), Kathryn Whetten (Duke University)

Contact Information: duke.ovcstudies@gmail.com