Cambodia is one of the poorest and least developed countries in Southeast Asia. Rural populations face increasing agricultural challenges made worse by deforestation and natural disasters. While economic growth of the last decade has been impressive, it has little impact on the most vulnerable households, who face significant deterioration of their livelihoods due to climate change.
The nutrition situation in Cambodia is alarming, and has not improved over the last ten years: 32.4% of children under five are stunted, and 9.6% are wasted. To help villagers in rural remote areas overcome this spiral, Action Against Hunger scaled up out activities in the country over the past year.
Action Against Hunger’s program in Cambodia aims to improve the resilience of communities in Preah Vihear Province, one of the most vulnerable areas in Cambodia, to hunger. Our interventions aim to deliver sustainable solutions that put communities in the driver’s seat, equipping them with vital skills, partnerships, and tools to fight undernutrition, which causes stunted growth in as many as 44 percent of children in parts of Cambodia. Our approach involves analyzing both the immediate and the underlying factors causing undernutrition in areas where children are most affected, and building strong partnerships and holistic, multisectoral programs to drive long-term change.
Based on the findings of our 2016 analysis, we launched a multisectoral pilot project in one district of Preah Vihear region in 2017. By acting simultaneously on five different levels -- Nutrition, Capacity Building, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, Food Security, and Gender -- at a small scale, we aim to demonstrate a new model in the fight against undernutrition in Cambodia, with the ambition to eventually scale to regional or national levels. This project, alongside with others implemented throughout the year, allowed us to develop complementary approaches, such as social marketing strategies, adapted to fit Cambodia and its people.
Action Against Hunger staff works closely with the population to assist them in developing household and community assets, such as ponds or rice banks, while training them on nutrition, hygiene, and food security issues, to strengthen communities’ resilience and autonomy. Additionally, in partnership with Google, we have developed two interactive digital games, (mobile applications uploaded onto special tablets), which our teams and community partners use to prevent malnutrition by educating children, mothers, and other caregivers on healthy diets, nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene.