The Asian Development Bank started its investigations Monday into complaints the bank received over the selection of beneficiaries of its emergency rice distributions to 68,000 families, a project official said.
The ADB’s rice distribution campaign in six provinces around the Tonle Sap lake and in Oddar Meanchey province sparked complaints and protests by hundreds of villagers, who accused local officials of corrupt and unfair selection of beneficiaries.
Provincial project authorities started their investigations Monday into the complaints lodged with the project complaints hotline, said Vong Sandap, deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Finance and the government’s director for the project.
The ADB had received a relatively limited number of complaints regarding the rice distribution, the bank said in a news release Friday.
So far, the ADB has received about 50 complaints, said ADB spokesman Kim Chantha, adding they encouraged human rights NGOs to forward additional complaints they had received about local rice distributions.
Households with legitimate complaints would be included in the project’s next stage, consisting of food-for-work programs and distribution of seeds and fertilizer at subsidized prices, he said, adding that reports from independent NGOs that monitored distributions had not yet been received.
Vong Sandap said the project had been implemented as planned and added that he was “very satisfied” with the results because the rice had reached poor families in a relatively short period of time.
“The assistance is making a very real difference in the lives of Cambodia’s most vulnerable,” ADB Country Representative Arjun Goswami said in a news release.
He said it was unfortunate the project “could not cover all of those families in need of food assistance,” adding “It is understandable that some of those who could not be reached feel let down.”
Banteay Meanchey province coordinator for Adhoc, Suom Chankea, said he did not understand why the ADB had received only a limited number of complaints adding there had been many village protests during handouts in his province alone, some of which had been violent.
“If there is a next distribution, I would like the ADB to survey [the selection of recipients] itself,” he said.
Kompong Chhnang provincial Adhoc coordinator Sam Chankea said the emergency distributions in his province had in many cases been biased and local authorities had made mistakes in the project’s implementation.