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Poverty to be targeted by USAID program

Poverty to be targeted by USAID program

THE United States this week launched a US$21 million program aimed at helping to alleviate poverty by helping farmers and others in Cambodia's impoverished countryside increase their earnings, the US embassy said Thursday.

The economic growth initiative, which will unfold over four years, also aims to create a better investment climate between  entrepreneurs and local or national government offices, the embassy said in a statement.

"This program is built on the idea that if you provide the Cambodian people with the tools they need to succeed, they will do great things," US ambassador to Cambodia Carol Rodley said at a reception to kick off the new program.

The launch comes amid growing ties between the US and Cambodia, which has been the beneficiary of an increasing amount of aid - including military assistance -  from Washington.

Previous economic development programs, administered through USAID, have helped more than 1,600 small businesses increase their sales by as much as 500 percent, generating new revenues of $6.5 million on an initial investment of $1.5 million, the embassy statement said.

More than a third of Cambodians still remain mired in poverty, according to government statistics.

The effects of the global financial crisis are thought to have dramatically lowered the standard of living for hundreds of thousands more, international financial institutions like the Asian Development Bank have said.