PLAN International Cambodia (PIC) – along with its partners and the relevant ministries at the sub-national level inaugurated the ‘First 1,000 Days Project’ in Ratanakkiri province on January 29 to improve the health of children and pregnant women there.

The project will directly benefit more than 10,000 vulnerable children and pregnant women as well as women of reproductive age between 15-44 years and the children’s parents according to PIC’s press release.

The First 1,000 Days Project will assist families by reducing hunger and malnutrition in all forms among vulnerable girls and boys under the age of 5 and especially among those from indigenous groups in Ratanakkiri.

The project is funded by the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through Plan International Germany and Bandos Komar for 5 years from November 2020 to October 2025.

The project will be implemented in 54 villages in the Ta Veng and Veun Sai districts of Ratanakiri Province.

“The prevalence of malnutrition among girls and boys under five, especially among indigenous groups, remains high in Ratanakiri province comparing to the national level. Malnutrition among children under 5 contributes to child morbidity and mortality and affects childhood physical and cognitive development,” said Yi Kimthan, Deputy Country Director for Programmes of Plan International Cambodia.

He said to address malnutrition issues in this province the project will improve access to health services for severe and moderate acute malnutrition cases in children under the age of five.

Kimthan then said the project will increase dietary diversity for pregnant women and children and enhance household sanitation and hygiene behaviours and practices for infants and young children.

He further stated that it will also increase dietary diversity in homestead food production and assist with the formation of micro-enterprises for income generation.

Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport spokesman Ros Soveacha said improved nutrition raises the standard of living for the children and allows the children to focus on their studies and flourish in school.

“The Ministry of Education welcomes and thanks Plan International for their continued their cooperation and assistance in the area of childhood nutrition.

“I also want to note the Ministry of Education’s other efforts to assist parents and young children as we work towards the goal of eliminating malnutrition in the nation’s children.

“One way we accomplish this is through the interministerial Prakas authorising cash transfers to pregnant women and children under the age of 2 years old who have ID-POOR cards,” Ros Soveacha said.