Community Self-prevention Against Trafficking of Women and Children (CSPATWC)

Country Profile: Cambodia


14,805,000 (2009)

Official Language


Other officially recognised languages

Chinese, Vietnamese, Cham and Khmer Loe

Poverty (Population living on less than US$1 per day)


Total Expenditure on Education as % of GNP


Primary School Net Enrolment/Attendance (2000–2007)


Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)


Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 2000-2006)

Female: 67%
Male: 86%
Total: 76%


Programme Overview

Programme TitleCommunity Self-prevention Against Trafficking of Women and Children (CSPATWC)
Implementing OrganizationCambodian Women’s Development Agency (CWDA)
Language of InstructionKhmer
FundingPro-literacy International, private and corporate donors
Date of Inception1993 (ongoing)

Background and context

Cambodia has made impressive progress in reconstructing its educational system which was completely destroyed during the brutal years of Khmer Rouge rule, between 1975 and 1979. The Cambodian Constitution now guarantees universal right to basic education including free and compulsory education for the first nine years. The State has also ratified and adopted progressive policies such as the millennium development goals (MDGs) and the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDA) which guarantees access to education for all (EFA). Consequently, adult and youth literacy rates increased from 62% and 73.5% in 1990 to 76% and 99%, respectively, in 2006.

However, Cambodia’s education system continues to be beset by many challenges, including an acute shortage of qualified teachers, infrastructure and teaching materials. The situation is particularly dire in rural areas and particularly for females who are often denied access to education due to poverty and cultural practices which reinforce their domestic roles as mothers and caregivers. Research indicates that as of 2004, only 22.2% and 4.7% of rural girls were able to proceed to lower and upper secondary school, respectively. Accordingly, it is estimated that only about 50% of rural women are functionally illiterate.

High rates of illiteracy coupled with endemic poverty among rural women have long-term implications on their socioeconomic independence and well-being. It is worth noting that studies indicate that illiterate and poor Cambodian women are more susceptible to engaging in prostitution for their survival or to being violently trafficked as sex slaves. Estimates suggest that there are about 15,000 prostituted persons in Phnom Penh alone, of whom about 65% are victims of internal sex trafficking. In an effort to improve the socioeconomic conditions of women and therefore to reduce their vulnerability to being trafficked as sex slaves, the Cambodian Women’s Development Agency (CWDA) initiated the Community Self-prevention Against Trafficking on Women and Children (CSPATWC).

The CSPATWC programme

The CSPATWC is an intergenerational literacy and socioeconomic empowerment programme. It was initiated in 1993 and operates in and around the capital city, Phnom Penh which is the main centre of sex trafficking and prostitution. The programme targets socially marginalised and functionally illiterate women and out-of-school girls. It is primarily intended to empower women in both their productive and reproductive capacities and to reduce their vulnerability to being trafficked as sex slaves, through education, (including human rights awareness), training and economic empowerment. Against this backdrop, the CWDA provides a variety of targeted and ‘women-centred’ training programmes including:

Aims and objectives

The programme aims to:

Programme implementation: Approaches and Methodologies

To facilitate the effective implementation of programme activities, CWDA works in close cooperation with the local community, the Ministry of Education (through the Department of Education, Youth and Sport (DoEYS), the Department of Non-Formal Education (DNFE) and the Municipality of Phnom Penh (MPP). The MPP supports CWDA by providing buildings (infrastructure) that are used as community learning centres (CLCs) while the DoEYS and DNFE provide teaching-learning materials and train facilitators in adult education teaching methodologies. The DNFE also finances the facilitators’ monthly stipends and provides seed-funding for women’s loan and credit schemes. Community leaders assist CWDA with the selection of learners with potential to make a marked impact on their communities or who are at risk of engaging in prostitution such as out-of-school girls. The community leaders are also responsible in managing the CLCs.

In addition, CWDA also grouped women into small learning groups comprising of 20 members. Each group has a leader who is responsible for organising and convening monthly learning sessions which are conducted by a trained facilitator. The monthly classes are also used as occasions for discussing broader community problems including ways of preventing female trafficking and ways to identify potential traffickers. Furthermore, the learning groups are also used as a portal for community-based savings and credit clubs which enable members to raise capital for setting up income generation projects.

Monitoring and evaluation

The implementation of programme activities is monitored by senior CWDA, MPP, DoEYS and DNFE officials on an ongoing basis while internal evaluation is undertaken by the same officers biannually.


Since its inception in 1993, the CSPATWC programme has benefited many women in Cambodia who, in turn, have played a critical role in promoting development within their families and communities. To date, CWDA has established 20 CLCs in 20 villages with an overall intake of about 3,000 learners (women) per year. More specifically, the programme has:


The programme has thrived on working closely with various key stakeholders since its inception in 1993. Many of the CWDA’s key partners such as the MPP, DoEYS and DNFE are still very supportive of the programme. Furthermore, the communities are generally very supportive given that the programme has proved effective in reducing poverty and the socioeconomic vulnerability of women.

Lessons learned

In order for adult education programmes to be successful, the programme needs to be tailored to address the learners’ distinctive needs and must involve the participation of key stakeholders.


Contact details

Mrs. Hun Phanna
19, St. 242, Sangkat Boeung Prolit,
Khan 7 Makara, Phnom Penh,
P.O Box: 2334 Phnom Penh III- Cambodia

Tel: 855-23 210 449, 012 995 199
Fax: (855-23) 210 487

Email: cwda (at)