Action Against Hunger served vulnerable populations in Cambodia from 1988 to 2007 through programs in food security, disaster risk management, and water, sanitation and hygiene. When our teams left Cambodia, the country’s malnutrition rates were low and the humanitarian situation had stabilized. However, eight years later, Cambodia is still one of the poorest and least developed countries in Southeast Asia. Now, rates of malnutrition and waterborne diseases are on the rise, and rural populations face mounting agricultural challenges made worse by deforestation and natural disasters.
In 2011, a devastating natural disaster hit Cambodia and its neighboring countries. Heavy rainfall caused widespread flooding that inundated 70 percent of the country, destroying homes, crops, and livelihoods. Thousands of people were displaced, in desperate need of food, temporary shelter, clean drinking water, proper sanitation, and basic health services. This disastrous flooding left already vulnerable populations at even greater risk for waterborne diseases, food insecurity, and malnutrition.
Working closely with local government agencies
Despite these obstacles, Cambodia has shown great national interest in nutrition, and the Ministry of Health does have strategies to address malnutrition. So while the political will exists, their current success is limited by a lack of capacity, education, and resources. To make positive steps towards a healthier population, Cambodia must work to strengthen the capacity of government agencies and local communities alike to treat and prevent deadly hunger.
Committed to long- term success
We are committed to helping Cambodia reach its goals. After conducting assessments in December 2012, we decided to re-establish programs in Cambodia. Since that time, a dedicated team of Action Against Hunger experts has developed the strategic direction for our programs, which will promote a holistic approach to ending malnutrition. We will work closely with the national government, other non-profit partners, and communities to create positive change in Cambodia.
In December 2015, we officially launched Nutritional Resilience, a pilot program in Cambodia. The project takes an integrated, multi-dimensional approach to implementing sustainable solutions to undernutrition. The launch is an exciting element of our partnership with Google, who is generously funding the project. The project is launching in Preah Vihear, a province that is one of the most vulnerable areas in Cambodia. The primary goal is to improve nutrition, especially among women and children under age five, in the Choam Khsant district of Preah Vihear province. Initial project activities include in-depth assessments on local nutrition status and levels of resilience. The information collected will help our experts identify the most pressing nutritional needs among target groups in the district, and will also guide the design of community-level activities related to capacity building, nutrition, agro-ecology, and water, sanitation, and hygiene.