JAPAN is providing $310 million in development aid to Cambodia to help bolster the country’s economy. About $42.7 million will be delivered as aid, while the rest will be packaged into soft loans which Cambodia has to repay, but on very favourable terms.

A signing ceremony will take place with Prime Minister Hun Sen, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn, and Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami attending.

A Monday press release from the foreign affairs ministry outlined how some of the aid money will be spent – $31 million to expand the water supply system in Takhmao, Kandal province; $9 million for mine clearance and landmine victim assistance; and $2.7 million to fund an economic and social development programme.

The press release also said the soft loan projects will involve improvements to three sections of National Road 5 and cost a total of $267.5 million. They include stretches of road between Thlea Ma’am and Battambang, Sri Sophorn and Poipet, and Prek Kdam and Thlea Ma’am.

“This grant aid and loan assistance extended by the government of Japan will significantly contribute to promoting economic and social development in the Kingdom and further strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation between the two nations,” the press release said.

The massive aid project comes on the heels of the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (Kusanone Grant), another Japanese-funded venture which was announced in a March 20 press release.

The initiative is the latest of Japan’s Kusanone projects, which were first created in 1991 to further Cambodia’s development.

Issued by the Japanese embassy in Cambodia, it said Japan pledges to provide $312,417 to carry out four projects.

The first will be the construction of a maternity ward at the Kampong Lapov Health Centre in Battambang province, costing $85,799.

After the project is completed, more than 100 women are expected to have access to its maternity services.

The second project is the construction of a new health centre in Ratanakkiri province costing $90,518. Through this project, some 3,500 people will have access to quality medical services which the health centre will provide.

The third project will improve irrigation in Pre Veng province by repairing canals and building drainage structures. It will cost $88,370. More than 1,000 residents will benefit from increased rice crop production and improvements to a dam in the area will make it easier to transport crops for sale.

The last project will be the installation of “manufacturing assistive devices” at the Association for Aid and Relief, Wheel Chair for Development. With increased manufacturing potential, it is believed the $47,730 project will benefit more than 700 people with disabilities.

Mikami said the Japanese Embassy in Cambodia has completed 632 projects under Kusanone.

“Cambodia has been developing rapidly. However, I also acknowledge that some problems remain to be solved to raise people’s living standards.

“Japan will continue to contribute to the solution of those challenges through the framework of economic collaboration and other developments, including Kusanone,” he said.

On March 19, Japan granted around $400,000 to Cambodia for the construction of academic buildings in three provinces – Ratanakkiri, Kratie and Mondulkiri. A water supply system in Pursat province’s Raing Kvang village was also built as part of the project.