Food Assessment Awaiting Hun Sen’s Approval

An assessment of emergency food needs in six of Cambodia’s provinces could begin next week if it gets the backing of Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen, Nhim Vanda, director of the National Committee for Dis­aster Management, said Monday.

Following reported food shortages in several provinces, the committee plans to join with the World Food Program in verifying whether shortages exist in Kompong Speu, Battambang, Prey Veng, Oddar Meanchey, Svay Rieng and Pursat provinces, according to WFP Act­ing Country Director Ramaraj Sar­a­van­a­muttu.

The decision to perform the survey was taken at a meeting be­tween the organizations earlier this month, according to Sara­va­na­mut­tu.

“We understand that there are certain districts in certain provinces where there may be localized food shortages,” he said.

“We’re hoping by early May to have a clearer picture,” he added. “We should bear in mind is that local food shortages are quite common and will occur even in years when food is quite plentiful.”

Nhim Vanda said a request to begin the study needed Hun Sen’s approval.

“I have not gotten approval from the prime minister yet so I hope after the New Year,” he said.

Kang Heang, Kompong Speu deputy governor, said late last month that 1,300 families in the province had run out of rice but were not in danger of starvation.

Oddar Meanchey province has appealed to the Red Cross in Thai­land’s Surin province and to the Cambodian Red Cross for help in feeding 800 families, Deputy Governor Yim Thin said recently.

“Statistically, Oddar Meanchey has a rice surplus of about 1,000 tons,” he said. “But the poor farmer remains poor. Rich farmers grow more rice for their stock but this cannot be distributed to the others.”

Cambodian Red Cross spokeswoman Men Neary Sopheak said Monday her organization had not received a request from Oddar Meanchey.

The National Committee for Disaster Management received a letter last week from its office in the province, according to which 7,590 people in five districts could be facing food shortages, Saravanamuttu said. The letter did not quantify the shortage or make any request for immediate assistance, he said.


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