Located in Southeast Asia with land and water access to important markets in Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia has emerged in recent years from decades of civil strife and economic stagnation to become a developing ASEAN economy. The 2008 Population Census stated total population as 13.4 million with a growth rate of 1.54 per year (FAO). According to the Cambodia Socioeconomic Survey, the poverty rate decreased from 47 percent in 2003 to 30 percent in 2007; the Cambodian government’s Commune Database estimates the 2010 poverty rate at 25.8 percent (WFP and UNICEF). Although Cambodia’s recent strong economic growth was impacted by the global economic downturn in 2008-09, the economy recovered in 2010 and 2011 with 6 percent GDP growth. The GDP is expected to grow 6.5 percent annually in 2012 and 2013 (World Bank). Despite this progress, rural poverty remains a serious challenge, with approximately 80 percent of the country’s population living in rural areas (FAO).

Rice is the staple food for the majority of Cambodia's population. Important secondary food crops include maize, cassava, sweet potatoes, beans, vegetables, and fruit (FAO). An estimated 71 percent of the population depends primarily on agriculture and livestock for their livelihoods; while agricultural growth has been steadily improving, it is hampered by low productivity, vulnerability to weather events such as flooding and drought, poor storage and irrigation practices, and a lack of adequate infrastructure (FAO and WFP). Flooding in 2011 highlighted these challenges for poor households, causing widespread crop damage, abnormally high domestic food prices (particularly for rice), and household displacement. It is estimated that at least 60,000 households were made food insecure by the floods (WFP).

Malnutrition rates remain high, with almost 40 percent of children suffering from chronic malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. Maternal mortality is 461 per 100,000 live births, while life expectancy is 58 years for men and 64 years for women (FAO).