Vocational cooking class
VSO/Sophea Chheun

Rural Employment for COVID-19 Economic Recovery (RECOVER)


January 2021 to December 2023

The Rural Employment for COVID-19 Economic Recovery (RECOVER) project was designed to respond to the specific needs of rural communities in Cambodia who face numerous challenges to maintain their livelihoods as the impact of the pandemic continues.

Students peel bananas to make banana chips
VSO/Sophea Chheun
Students and trainers peel bananas to make banana chips during agro-processing training.

What is RECOVER?

RECOVER intends to support vulnerable rural communities within three provinces in Cambodia (Kampong Thom, Kampong Chhnang, and Battambang) in their economic recovery after the pandemic, specifically to prevent them from experiencing extreme poverty, high levels of debt and food insecurity.

This is done through improving food security, income and employment opportunities for fishing and farming communities and returnee labour migrants. Our volunteers create a lasting impact by providing interventions to influence and inform systemic changes for producers in these communities, so they are less dependent on external emergency support.

Challenges to smallholder farmers and fishers include:

  • Reduced market access for agricultural produce and reduced local income
  • Declining consumption, sales and revenue due to restrictions of movements
  • Disrupted agriculture supply chains
  • Reduced access to food
  • Closure of workplaces and job losses
  • Reduced migration opportunities through border closures
  • Returnee migrant workers and their families struggle to find work on returning to their communities.

Key goals

VSO focuses on ensuring employability for technical vocational education and training (TVET) graduates who play an important role in the local labour market. Many returning migrant workers are unable to find jobs within their home communities. At the same time, current TVET institutions are experiencing difficulties in reaching trainees who are well trained for the current market needs. There is a clear need for improvement in the systems in which employment service providers and job seekers are involved.


70% of TVET graduates will be placed in jobs 


1,500 trainees will be trained in agro-processing and MSME business development skills.


34 volunteers will empower 1,525 TVET graduates and trainers.


Target households will have increased their income by an average of 60%.

Watch how the project has helped Vorn recover her livelihood

Agro-processing training
VSO/Sophea Chheun
A TVET trainer delivers a session on agro-processing.

Our volunteering for development approach

Using VSO’s volunteering for development methodology, we’re aiming to bring extensive educational support for laid-off workers, returned labour migrants and other vulnerable community members. Particularly, VSO intends to increase the ability to absorb labour for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), agri-businesses, producer groups and agricultural cooperatives, while increasing skills for job seekers so that they can adapt to different sectors.

These changes happen through skills development programs that focus on the in-demand skills of the market, particularly in the agriculture sector, looking at horticulture and poultry value chains.

Volunteers together with TVET trainers act as facilitators of the learning process for the local community, focusing particularly on TVET graduates. They gain experience and learn new skills in agro-processing, alongside training into how to successfully start-up a business. They also teach and assist in soft skills and in job-seeking to ensure graduates have ownership over their incomes.

Technical and vocational trainer teaches students to pickle vegetables
Sophea Chheun

TVET trainers and students make pickled cucumber at an agro-processing training session.

How we promote decent employment opportunities

By providing ongoing support with mentoring, apprenticeships, networking, grants and financial support, TVET graduates are able to become entrepreneurs owning their own businesses.

The dialogue that VSO volunteers provide between the private sector and training centres, enables better communication of the skills needed by the labour market to the tailoring of training curriculums. These continual improvements in taught curriculums ensure job-seekers have the right skills to connect with potential employers.

Text: Co-funded by the European Union

Securing resilient livelihoods through

  • Strengthening vocational training institutes through improving trainer capacity, curriculum, materials and equipment.
  • Promoting awareness of formal, safe migration channels and labour rights.
  • Facilitating labour market assessments, access to job information and product fairs, and multi-stakeholder dialogues
  • On-going training and mentoring in: agro-processing, soft skills, entrepreneurship, networking, apprenticeships and support for graduates to ensure access to employability and livelihood security.

RECOVER is led by DanChurchAid (DCA), co-funded by European Union, with consortium partners People In Need (PIN) and VSO. Local implementing partners are CIRD, FNN, KOC, DPA and CENTRAL.

Find out more

Young female farmers in Kenya
Paul Wambugu/ Obscuramedia

Resilient livelihoods

Ensuring people have the skills and opportunities needed to support themselves and their families.

200,000 people benefited from our work supporting livelihoods in 2022-23.

Chum Srey Nga (50) now uses her floating vegetable garden for income rather than fishing
VSO/Sophea Chheun


We've worked in Cambodia since 1991, strengthening inclusive education systems and supporting people to develop secure and resilient livelihoods.

Woman smiling with organic crops
Lisa Marie David

Our work

We fight poverty not by sending aid, but by working through volunteers and partners to create long-lasting change in some of the world’s poorest regions.

Mangrove planting

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