The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced the launch of a new three year programme for continuing food assistance for 1.8 million Cambodians at a Phnom Penh ceremony attended by the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Samdech Hun Sen.
I remember how hard it was for me as a young child to attend school. Not only was the school far away from my house, but often I arrived at school hungry and it was difficult to concentrate on what the teacher was explaining.
Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia
The approved programme, valued at USS$64 million, will provide meals to children in school and to other vulnerable people, including thousands of TB patients and people affected by HIV/AIDS in Cambodia from 2008 through 2010.
“I remember how hard it was for me as a young child to attend school. Not only was the school far away from my house, but often I arrived at school hungry and it was difficult to concentrate on what the teacher was explaining,” said the Prime Minister, while witnessing the signing of the formal agreement between the RGC and the WFP.
“I strongly support the WFP school feeding programme and I especially appreciate that WFP uses locally-purchased food in its projects.”
The three year programme was recently approved by the WFP's Executive Board consisting of representatives of 36 countries meeting in Rome, Italy, and will target food assistance and support to vulnerable Cambodians in the least developed and most food insecure regions of the nation.
WFP’s food assistance will be distributed through projects focused on education, health and disaster prevention and mitigation at the community level and will be implemented in collaboration with government entities and with national and international non-governmental organizations working in Cambodia.
HE HOR Namhong, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation representing the RGC at the agreement signing ceremony noted: “WFP programmes are fully in line with the Government's Rectangular Strategy, which gives priority to the rural areas of the country in the Government's quest to eradicate poverty and hunger in Cambodia. Despite its limited resources, it has committed to provide at least 2,000 metric tonnes of rice to WFP on yearly basis for the next three years. We encourage the donor community to support these valuable programmes.”
Thomas Keusters, WFP's Representative and Country Director, said: “WFP is grateful for the financial commitments and the increased ownership of the RGC for the successful implementation of the programmes in Cambodia. It requires funding from as many donors as possible. In addition, timing is crucial to avoid interruption in the supply and avoid a repeat of the funding crisis faced in early 2007.”
Keusters continued by saying: “Food assistance has an immediate impact on beneficiaries and it is often also the catalyst that will allow other programmes to be successful. What good is it to build more schools and train more teachers, if the children can not take advantage of the improved facilities because they come to school hungry? What is the benefit of HIV/AIDS/TB medical support if the people cannot afford to buy the food that is needed for the medicine to be effective?”
WFP Cambodia has been present in Cambodia since 1979. Originally, it was supporting refugees and returnees, mainly along the Cambodian/Thai border.
Since 2001, it is increasingly involved in programmes addressing the crises of education, HIV/AIDS, maternal and child mortality. In addition, local communities are empowered in the administration of food based projects and their capacity to cope with increasingly frequent and severe natural hazards is improving.