Cambodia is a small country with an area of 181,035 km 2 (three times smaller than France ). It has 13.1 million inhabitants. It became a constitutional monarchy after the Paris Peace Agreements and the 1993 elections. However, thirty years of civil war have greatly disrupted the society and economy, rendering Cambodia one of the least developed countries in the region. About 36% of the population lives under the poverty line.
According to 1998 UNPF statistics, only a small part of the essentially rural Cambodian population has access to basic medical care (52%), drinking water (35%) and sanitation (15%). 55% of children under five (especially in rural areas) have signs of malnutrition which can hinder their physical and intellectual growth and development.
The lack of information and education about health, nutrition, and hygiene lead to a high level of illness among children. These figures increased during epidemics or natural disasters such as the floods of September and October 2000 that destroyed crops and prevented children from going to school.