“At the end of the day, the best safety net is a job”. These are the words of Robert Zoelick outgoing president of the World Bank.
As part of the World Bank and IMF analysis on how to protect the world’s poorest communities from the world’s ongoing financial turmoil, just last week Zoelick and others concluded that the best protection from poverty is employment – the poor need to work. We agree.
Since 2007 the 2h Project has been working with local leaders and communities in a Cambodian commune outside Phnom Penh. At times it has been painfully slow going but our goal to establish a project that will provide jobs for some 600 families identified as ‘extreme poor’ is close to reality.
In August of last year 2h saw the completion of Stage One of an innovative community hub. A 1.2 hectare site in the heart of the commune provided an ideal location for a skills training base to be erected including a caretakers residence and community pagoda.
The hub will present women from the local area with an opportunity to receive vocational training while at the same time as earning an income. The hub will also provide vital life-skill training including the importance of savings programs which will allow for ongoing home-based employment and for school age children to attend
In spite of Cambodia’s worst floods in decades leaving our site one and a half metres underwater (just four weeks after the build was complete) progress has continued to be made.
In January this year the main building floor was concreted and in March a market was secured for the sale of the hub’s intended production of traditional ‘export quality’ mats – a critical step in ensuring the project will remain both sustainable and scaleable.