Cambodia's Victim Zero: Global and National Responses to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

STEPS Working Paper No. 16

104 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2009 Last revised: 10 May 2009

Date Written: April 16, 2009


Cambodia’s experience with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) since the disease was discovered on a farm outside Phnom Penh in January 2004 reveals important aspects of how a developing country with limited resources and capabilities has responded to a crisis that has global public health implications and, vice-versa, how this global response in turn affected Cambodia. Augmented by a survey sent to individuals deeply involved in HPAI work in Cambodia, this study uses a qualitative research methodology consisting of mostly one-on-one semi-structured interviews across government, the private sector, and the non-governmental sector. Measures have been taken to cope with HPAI such as public awareness campaign ‘Super Moan’ (Super Chicken) and Pandemic Preparedness; border control over the movement of poultry with neighboring countries, particularly Vietnam and Thailand; culling of poultry; and case-based secret compensation. The study provides a background to Cambodian political and modern history, sets the context of aid dependence and tourism, and presents the livestock sector and poultry sub-sector in particular. It then proceeds in three parts, from beginning, middle, to end to show how HPAI evolved, providing a narrative time line of the key policy moments/phases between the first outbreak and to date (December 2008). Three narratives are explored: (1) culling without compensation; (2) the shift to health; and (3) the role of poverty and livelihoods. The study then discusses three key themes that define the political economy of the policy process. These are: (a) Donors and NGOs; (b) Beyond Aid: Other Sources of Revenue and the Importance of Tourism; and (c) Media Spin. The overall analysis of the political economy of HPAI in Cambodia reveals key challenges, obstacles and opportunities for responding to HPAI - and potentially other global epidemics.

Keywords: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, Cambodia, Political Economy

JEL Classification: P26, P32, P33

Suggested Citation

Ear, Sophal, Cambodia's Victim Zero: Global and National Responses to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (April 16, 2009). STEPS Working Paper No. 16, Available at SSRN: or

Sophal Ear (Contact Author)

Occidental College ( email )

1600 Campus Road
Los Angeles, CA 90041
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics