With a growing economy, Cambodia has made good strides in improving maternal health, early child care, and primary education programs in rural areas. One of the most progressed sectors in Cambodia is the education sector. Enrolment figures have risen steadily in primary and secondary schools throughout Cambodia, with net primary school admission rates increasing from 81 percent in 2001 to 95.3 percent in 2014, according to the World Bank.
Australia's development assistance targets some of Cambodia's most pressing development needs in health, education, infrastructure, agriculture, law and justice, and volunteer assignments largely fall within these sectors.
Banlung is the provincial capital of Rantanakiri, a remote north eastern province of Cambodia which borders Laos to the north, Vietnam to the east, Stung Treng province to the west and Mondolkiri province to the south. It is one of the least developed areas of Cambodia, due to problems of accessibility. In this hilly, forested region, approximately 180,000 people live in small towns and villages scattered over 11,050 square kilometres. Simple dirt roads or paths lead from villages to district towns and from there to Ban Lung.
Ratanakiri Province is made up of several ethnic groups. The "Khmer Leu" live in small, remote villages composed of 150 to 400 people. They practice swidden agriculture or rotational shifting cultivation as well as hunting and gathering for subsistence. Occasional surpluses are sold in the local markets in exchange for consumer goods such as mats, pans, steel tools, tobacco, salt, fish paste or medicine. A visit to the local market usually means a day of walking for an individual. All of the indigenous groups have their own distinct languages which are often not mutually intelligible and the majority, especially women and the elderly, do not speak Khmer. Culturally, these groups are more related to other ethnic minorities in Laos and Vietnam than to the Khmer.
Battambang is the capital of Battambang Province in north western Cambodia and is the second-largest provincial capital in the country. It is located four hours' drive from Phnom Penh and three hours from Siem Reap, which are both easily accessible by bus or taxi.
Battambang is a regional hub, and acts as a link between Phnom Penh and Thailand. The relaxed town features well-preserved French colonial architecture against the backdrop of the tranquil Sangkae River. Battambang is home to around 250 000 people, and its attractions include ancient ruins and hilltop temples. There is a vibrant expatriate community and network in Battambang (including teachers and volunteers at NGOs), several markets, convenience stores and a variety of Khmer and Western restaurants. Battambang is authentic in Khmer culture and food with surrounding picturesque rice fields, ancient temples, traditional rural villages and French colonial buildings. The province's farming community produces a significant proportion of the country's rice crop.
The assignment will be based in Kratie, a small town in eastern Cambodia. Kratie is a small tourism town, with up to 150 tourists arriving each day primarily to see the dolphins. There are four bus companies that operate out of Kratie, making most destinations in Cambodia easy to reach from Kratie.
Kratie experiences lovely weather all year round, with the wet season occurring from May to November. The hottest months of the year are April and May. Kratie is a very safe town in which to live, with many fun outdoor activities for the adventurous. Kratie has internet and phone access, a small western supermarket, many Khmer shops for goods and supplies, and a newly established Khmer bank with an ATM that accepts VISA cards.
Cambodia's capital city, Phnom Penh, is the cultural, commercial and political hub of the country. It is located in the south-central region of Cambodia, at the confluence of the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers. Phnom Penh is a significant global and domestic tourist destination and is known for its combination of traditional Khmer origins and French colonial influences.
As a major city of over one million people, Phnom Penh is well equipped with services and facilities. Throughout the year, Phnom Penh offers a wide range of tourist activities as well as traditional festivals; the city celebrates Chinese New Year in January and Khmer New Year in April, in addition to the Water Festival in October, amongst many others. Although security can be a concern at times, most areas and many activities are considered safe. The city is very multicultural and a wide range of foods are available. There are also a range of transport options to other major centres in the region.
Siem Reap is Cambodia's fastest growing city and is a popular tourist destination. Siem Reap is the capital city of Siem Reap Province in northwestern Cambodia. It is characterised by colonial and Chinese style architecture in the town centre and around the Old Market. Angkor Wat, the famous Hindu temple complex, is situated a short distance from Siem Reap.
Due to the high level of tourism in the area, Siem Reap is well equipped with all modern conveniences. It is considered safe with little crime. Siem Reap has a tropical climate with warm temperatures throughout the year. Siem Reap houses a large expatriate community but, despite international influences, the city and its people have conserved much of the town's image, culture and traditions.