Malnutrition among children under five and women of reproductive age remains a major issue in the Kingdom, according to NGO Plan International, as they announced on Monday a five-year German-backed project to combat the affliction in remote areas of Stung Treng province.
The organisation said the problem is persisting in Cambodia due to a lack of nutrient-rich foods, poor knowledge of maternal and child health, a lack of child-friendly food in the first 1,000 days after birth, a lack of clean water and poor food hygiene.
Plan International also highlighted the particular problem of malnutrition among children under five in Stung Treng province, where it currently sits at 44 per cent, considerably higher than the national average of 32 per cent.
At 13.8 per cent, instances of underweight children in the province were also higher than the national average of 9.6 per cent, according to the government’s 2014 Demographic and Health Survey statistics.
To address the problem, Plan International this week launched its project entitled 1,000 Days: Food Security and Increasing Resilence to Improve Mother and Child Health in the province.
In a press release, it said the project began in November last year and will be implemented in Siem Bok, Thala Barivat and Sesan districts until November 2023.
The five-year project, run in cooperation with and partially funded by the German government’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, is set to cost $1.5 million.
It aims to reduce malnutrition of children and women of childbearing age through the guarantee of food security to families in the province.
It will also benefit 9,000 people through improving healthcare access for newborns, children under five and women of childbearing age.
Plan International will also promote information on nutrition, clean water consumption, sanitation and agricultural methods to increase the growth of nutritious produce at home.
The organisation – which began operating in Cambodia in 2002 – works in the areas of child protection, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, and primary school education and vocational training.
It operates in 17 of the Kingdom’s 25 provinces, as well as the capital, with Ratanakkiri, Tbong Khmum and Siem Reap provinces undergoing similar malnutrition projects in 2011, 2004 and 2002 respectively.
Yi Kimthan, Plan International Cambodia’s deputy country director of programmes, said the project will help children grow safely from birth until adulthood.
“The provision of adequate nutrition and proper sanitation practice to children in the first 1,000 days of their lives is the most important period in preventing them from experiencing malnutrition."
“This is the reason why the project focuses on women of reproductive age, pregnant women, breastfeeding women and children under five,” he said.