UN Food Agency Extends Its Program to Reach Rural Areas

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) has extended its operations in Cambodia by 30 months and increased its funding by $46 million to focus on achieving greater food security for children in rural areas, a foreign ministry official said Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong Wednesday met with Gianpietro Bordignon, the WFP representative to Cambodia, to discuss an extension to the organization’s projects in Cambodia beyond its previous July 2016 timeframe, said Chum Sounry, spokesman for the ministry.

Gianpietro Bordignon, World Food Program representative to Cambodia, left, meets with Foreign Minister Hor Namhong in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. (Khem Sovannara)
Gianpietro Bordignon, World Food Program representative to Cambodia, left, meets with Foreign Minister Hor Namhong in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. (Khem Sovannara)

“The new contract will expire in December 2018, with a further $46 million in funding,” Mr. Sounry said at a press conference following the meeting. “The first priority of the program is to provide food to poor children in rural areas.”

The U.N.’s food program began operations in Cambodia in mid-2011, and its initial $145 million program has so far funded the provision of staple foods, as well as technical and emergency assistance, according to the agency.

“Our programs will increasingly focus on far-off provinces including Preah Vihear and Stung Treng,” Mr. Bordignon said, adding that the organization would target 400,000 rural residents.

“Working with the Education Ministry, we aim to provide more hot meals and take-home rations for school children, which will also help boost school attendance,” he said.

According to the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative 2015 report, malnutrition, lack of cooking fuel and poor schooling are among the key factors contributing to  poverty in Cambodia’s rural provinces—home to more than 80 percent of the population.

While Cambodia achieved a significant reduction in poverty rates between 2004 and 2014, from 53.2 percent to 13.5 percent, according to the government, about 16 percent of the population is still undernourished, according to the World Bank.

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