The World Food Program, which agreed Thursday to provide nearly $60 million in assistance over the next three years, is shifting its focus from simple food donations, the program’s officials said.
“Because Cambodia is continuously changing and developing, the role of food aid must also change and adapt itself to the progress the country makes,”v Monika Midel, the program’s country director, said.
“Before, food aid served to help people to survive and build up their livelihood after the hard times. Now, many of those people can stand on their own feet and can feed their family without help from us.”
In recent years, WFP has given about $20 million annually to Cambodia, primarily through its Food for Work program, in which villagers construct roads and do other improvements in exchange for food.
Midel said while the program will continue, the agency also will be targeting areas inside the country where people chronically fail to raise enough food or earn enough money to support themselves.
“We want to combine innovative activities for income and employment generation in rural infrastructure with social activities to improve access to health [and] education” for poor people, she said.
WFP also will work closely with the government to develop poor communes, so aid can be used efficiently and to help the government set up a safety net.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong said the government “highly appreciates” not only the WFP’s current aid, but its many years of support to Cambodia.
Between 2001 and 2003, WFP plans to distribute more than 100,000 tons of rice, 5,700 tons of canned fish, 5,500 tons of vegetable oil and 1,300 tons of iodized salt.
It is also providing $9.2 million in emergency flood aid and another $4.2 million in a supplementary nutrition program for young children and their mothers, as more than half of Cambodia’s young children are malnourished.