Plan International Cambodia (PIC) launched its “New Generation” project in Ratanakkiri province on Thursday which aims to strengthen the capacity of five NGOs over five years to promote the wellbeing of some 26,000 children, women and youths.

The project was made possible with help from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency which provided $2.9 million in funding.

PIC acting country director Yi Kimthan said: “Through the implementation of this project, we want children and young women to become strong partners in promoting gender equality in their families, schools and communities as a whole.”

PIC will implement the programme in partnership with five other NGOs, including Child Rights Coalition Cambodia (CRC-Cambodia), Health Action Coordinating Committee (HACC), Khmer Youth Association (KYA), Phnom Srey Organisation for Development (PSOD) and Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP).

Kimthan said the organisation intends to roll out the initiative to Stung Treng province in the future and it would eventually cover seven districts, 25 communes and 124 villages in whole.

“Among the objectives for the New Generation project is to strengthen the role of NGOs in local communities when promoting the rights of children and youths while encouraging them to participate in their health and wellbeing,” said Kimthan.

A 2011 baseline survey conducted by PIC found that and less than one-fifth of five to six-year-olds in Ratanakkiri province were not receiving early childhood education – far lower than the national average, according to its website.

In June, PIC successfully brought a 15-year involvement in Tbong Khmum province to an end. Over 15 years, the NGO was able to train 958 prenatal groups and 120 teachers in its teaching methodologies.

The NGO also brought 11,270 children into its nutrition programme.

Sopha, 17, who lives in the target area for the project’s implementation in Ratanakkiri province, expressed hope that it would allow youths like her to live under better living conditions without the threat of rights violation and violence.

“I want to see that children’s rights are respected and promoted and that the voices of children are taken into consideration and included in development activities at the sub-national and national level,” she said.

Phat Vy, 48, a committee member in charge of woman and children’s affairs in Ratanakkiri province’s Pakalanh commune in Veun Sai district said she believed the project would contribute significantly towards promoting the rights of children in her community.

“I want to see children actively participating in developing their communities into better and more inclusive places.

“When children know how to exercise their rights, it will contribute significantly to development so it not only benefits them and youths but the community as a whole,” Vy said.