An initiative aimed at boosting the level of child protection in five Cambodian provinces was launched in Phnom Penh yesterday.
The Partnership Program for the Protection of Children, which brings together the Cambodian government, UNICEF, Friends International and nine grassroots NGOs, is aimed at better coordinating care provided to vulnerable children.
The UN-funded scheme will run for three years.
As well as setting standards for child protection and developing sustainable capacity for the delivery of child protection services, the aim of the partnership is to coordinate a database for child protection issues and collate evidence from the field to inform and influence government policy making.
David Harding, deputy director of Friends International, believes the partnership shows fresh thinking.
“Many affiliations and partnerships exist already, but this is an excellent opportunity, with the collaboration of the Ministry, to formalise loose relationships and to put firm frameworks and objectives in place.”
Project manager Luke Gracie said a survey undertaken in 2011 found significant gaps in child protection services in Cambodia and it was these gaps the partnership would seek to fill.
This would mean “more information sharing, improving the quality of the different services everyone provides, making sure people have effective referral networks and also changing from an issues-based approach to a holistic-based approach”, he said.
Minister of Social Affairs Ith Sam Heng said the partnership was a “new step to strengthen services for vulnerable and at-risk children in Cambodia.”
Save the Children in Cambodia programme director for implementation Mot Sana also supported the project, but said it was important to keep longevity in mind.
“We want everyone to look beyond the three-year time-scale and consider how this project could be maintained beyond the 2014 deadline,” he said.
“We would like to see the government sustain the project beyond the scheduled end point,” he said.