New Food Assistance Program To Help 68,000 Poor Families

phnom proek district, Battam­bang province – The Asian Dev­elopment Bank on Wednes­day launched its Emergency Food Assistance Pro­ject, which will distribute rice to 68,000 poor families in 200 communes across six pro­vinces around the Tonle Sap lake and in Oddar Meanchey.

The project aims to support the poorest 20 percent of farmers and vulnerable groups such as landless households, female-headed families, fishermen and the sick and handicapped, ADB Country Dir­ector Ar­jun Goswami said at the project launch in Pich Chen­da commune, close to the Thai border.

On Wednesday, rice distribution started in 25 communes in Ban­teay Meanchey province and 26 communes in Battambang pro­vince, ADB officials said. Com­mune councilors and village chiefs play a central role in selecting the neediest households, each of which will receive 35 kg of rice per family member.

Independent NGO monitors will also ensure effective targeting and the transparency of the distribution process, Goswami added.

Food-for-work programs and distribution of seed and fertilizer at subsidized prices will also be implemented in the targeted areas, which are considered among the poorest in the country.

Finance Minister Keat Chhon, who attended the launch of the $40 million project, said higher food and gasoline prices were making people “poorer and poorer” and that rich households were now turning into “medium-income households.

He said he feared rising prices would hinder the government’s efforts to reduce poverty.

Deputy Battambang Governor Sun Heng said Wednesday that so far there had been complaints from 20 to 30 families in Sampov Loun district’s Santepheap commune because they had been ex­cluded from rice distributions.

“We informed them that the distribution can not reach all families, the distribution is limited,” he added.

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