Explaining the Expansion of Institutions in Battambang Province

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.

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. 

A stratified random sample of 15 orphanages in Battambang are being 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 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: Kathryn Whetten (Duke University)