The Japanese government has agreed to provide three projects with over $760,000 in grants to support the improvement of early childhood and environmental education, as well as provincial healthcare in Cambodia.

A signing ceremony for the funding – provided under the “Grant Assistance for Grassroots Projects” programme (GGP) – was held on February 26, between Ichitomo Taninai, Chargés d'Affaires ad interim, Embassy of Japan in Cambodia, and the representative of the recipients.

In the first project, Nature Centre Risen (NCR) will undertake activities aimed at encouraging practical environmental education in several kindergartens in coastal Preah Sihanouk province.

The project aims to address the perceived worsening environment issues that accompany economic growth. Its goal is to foster coexistence with nature for children and their parents. NCR received $160,140 in grants.

In the second, the Shanti Volunteer Association (SVA) seeks to create a physical and human educational environment that supports young children and solves educational gaps between urban and rural areas. The SVA will target state preschools in remote Oddar Meanchey province, and received $414,756.

The third project saw $193,731 awarded to the Foundation for International Development/Relief (FIDR). They intend to improve cooperation among hospitals and health centres in northeastern Cambodia by extending the capabilities and leadership of the Kratie Provincial Referral Hospital, in order for it to serve as a regional hub for surgery. 

In addition, district hospitals and health centres will also receive training which allows them to make accurate diagnoses and refer patients to higher level hospitals.

During the ceremony, Taninai said the Japanese government has been providing Japanese NGOs with grant aid since 2002 for socio-economic development projects in many developing countries.

“I am pleased to observe Cambodia’s rapid development. However, I recognise that some challenges still need to be resolved in order to improve people’s quality of life. The Japanese government is proud to contribute to finding solutions to these problems,” he added. 

Iwama Miyoko, NCR representative, explained that under their project, an environmental commission would be established for preschools, and Japanese coaches will provide specialised training for teachers.

“We also aim to improve the environmental situation by installing garbage cans and planting trees and flowers on preschool campuses. We will also provide educational tools such as compost boxes,” she added.

SVA representative Ayano Kikuchi said they aim to improve access to quality education by improving the educational atmosphere. 

“We want to contribute to promoting high-quality and equal preschool access, as stipulated in the educational strategic plan 2019-23,” she added. 

Saeki Kazato, country representative of FIDR Cambodia, said the funding will support activities which will allow the staff at district referral hospital and health centres to increase their skills and knowledge.

“Our goal is to ensure that no matter where a patient lives, they will receive rapid, appropriate treatment,” he explained.

Since 2002, Japan has provided over $54 million for 156 projects in Cambodia, mainly in the fields of primary education, health, agriculture and mine clearance.