2020 INTERNATIONAL ALUMNI ESSAY CONTEST WINNERS’ ESSAYS
My Humble Effort to Fight Against COVID-19 in Cambodia
POCH, KONGCHHENG (2010 MPP/ED, Cambodia)
By June 2020, Cambodia has confirmed 141 COVID-19 cases, of which 131 have recovered and no death. The COVID-19 has already had devastating economic and social impacts on the country. Since the emergence of the pandemic in early 2020, I have humbly contributed to the United Nations Development System (UNDS)’s effort to help the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) fight against COVID-19 and mitigate the pandemic’s economic and social impacts. Being an Economist at the UN Resident Coordinator Office (UNRCO), which leads and coordinates the overall development work of the UNDS in Cambodia, I have contributed to the fight against COVID-19 in two ways as follows.
- Impact assessment and policy advice to the RGC
- Assessing the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. As the UNRCO Economist, I have coordinated the UN’s technical assistance to the RGC through the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) to assess the economic and social impacts of COVID-19 using partial and general equilibrium approaches. The impact assessment report was finished and shared with the MEF. The report provides empirical evidence for the RGC/MEF in designing policy responses to stimulate the economy and address economic and social impacts. This work has benefited substantially from the courses that I took at the KDI School (e.g., econometrics and international financial policy). These courses have equipped me with a solid framework and necessary tools for analyzing the impact of an external shock (i.e., COVID-19) on the Cambodian economy.
- Advising on social protection measures for protecting the poor and vulnerable. Since March 2020, as the COVID-19 was projected to take a serious toll on the economy and the people’s incomes and livelihoods, I have worked with the UN Economist Team to produce the UN Social Protection Policy Note that advises the RGC to adopt social protection measures (e.g., cash transfer) to protect the poor and vulnerable segments of the population and to stimulate the economy. The policy advice was well accepted by the RGC. Now, the RGC has rolled out the cash transfer program to help the existing poor households as well as the new poor households that have fallen into poverty due to the pandemic. In this regard, I have used my knowledge gained at the KDIS that emphasizes the importance of stimulating the economy during a crisis. I have also used the skills to mobilize support and engage with the RGC via the KDIS alumni who are in the RGC’s line ministries.
- Designing the UN Economic and Social Response Plan
- To help the UN prepare well for responding to COVID-19, I have created an online database for recording COVID-19 infection cases and the measures taken by the RGC, Development Partners, and other stakeholders for containing the COVID-19 spread. Additionally, I have also established another repository of the impact assessments or studies and the economic and social policy measures taken by the RGC. This data collection and management system have been proven to be useful for sharing with and updating the UN Management Team for taking action on immediate response and recovery programs.
- As the UNRCO Economist, I produced a paper on the Assessment of the Economic and Social Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic in Cambodia, which serves as the basis for formulating the UN Economic and Social Response Plan. The UNESRP is essential for adjusting and re-purposing the UNDS’s development programs in the country to help the RGC to provide immediate relief to the people affected by COVID-19 and to prepare the country well for inclusive, sustainable, and resilient recovery.
<Meeting with Deputy Governor of Battambang Province for Organizing UN Day 2019>
<An interview with CNC TV on “What’s SDGs?”>
1) Online database for recording and mapping the Cambodian government’s decisions to respond to COVID-19: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1WYa5mTC4lR_KPIPk3jy5wu63bDLkqwe39BP6KxhWaB4/edit#gid=0
2) Online database for mapping the UN support to the Cambodian government in responding to COVID-19: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1bLq1OrPice4DZ0z5QR_XjyutlrtaBlUqO8nfnVo-UIw/edit#gid=0
3) Assessment of the Economic and Social Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic in Cambodia. Analytical Draft, 30 June 2020. United Nations in Cambodia.
4) COVID-19 Economic Impact Assessment: Simulation Exercise. Preliminary Draft, 26 March 2020. UNDP Cambodia.
5) Does Bitcoin Hedge Commodity Uncertainty? Journal of Risk and Financial Management. Access to paper: https://www.mdpi.com/1911-8074/13/6/119/pdf
6) Empirical Analysis of the Capital Inflows and Real Exchange Rate Nexus in Developing Countries. International Conference on Economics 2019. Access to paper: https://seville2019.econworld.org/papers/Poch_Empirical.pdf
7) An Empirical Analysis of the Foreign Aid and Real Exchange Rate Nexus. Australasian Aid Conference 2019. Access the presentation: http://devpolicy.org/2019-Australasian-Aid-Conference/1DKongchengPoch.pdf.
8) An Assessment of the Role of Nongovernment Organizations in Combating Trafficking of Women and Children in Cambodia and Viet Nam. Journal of Greater Mekong Subregion Development Studies October 2014.
9) ASEAN Economic Bulletin (AEB) October 2014. Access the paper: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/370340/AEB_Oct14.pdf
10) Renewable Energy Development in Cambodia: Status, Prospects and Policies. ERIA Research Project Report 2013. Access the paper: http://www.eria.org/RPR_FY2012_No.26_chapter_7.pdf
11) ASEAN-India Trade Relation: Challenges and Prospects. The 2nd Roundtable on ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks. 2013. Access the paper: http://www.ris.org.in/images/RIS_images/pdf/2nd%20AINTT/Kongchheng%20POCH.pdf
12) Cambodia’s Electricity Sector in the Context of Regional Electricity Market Integration. ERIA Research Project Report 2012. Access the paper: https://goo.gl/iajs4z
13) Leveraging ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement: Challenges and Opportunities. The 1st Roundtable on ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks. 2012. Access the paper: http://www.ris.org.in/images/RIS_images/pdf/Session%201/Mr%20Poch.pdf
14) Transboundary production in agriculture: A case study of maize contract farming in Cambodia. Research Paper Series no. 1. 2010. Mekong Institute. Access to paper: https://www.mekonginstitute.org/uploads/tx_ffpublication/2010_1_transboundary.pdf
1. An interview with CNC TV on “What’s SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)?” Link to the interview on 21 October 2019: https://www.facebook.com/243322742507194/posts/1495834053922717/