Cambodia gets $35 million in emergency food aid

October 8, 2008 at 10:26 am Leave a comment

October 8, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The Asian Development Bank announced Wednesday $35 million in emergency food aid to ease the burden of soaring food prices among some of Cambodia’s poorest people.

The assistance will provide free rice, seed and fertilizer to 500,000 Cambodians, the poorest of the poor among the country’s 14 million people, the bank said.

The recipients include slum residents in the capital, Phnom Penh, and farmers in seven provinces around the country’s Tonle Sap lake.

“When the food price inflation spike came, these communities were already in a fragile state. It drove them more sharply over the edge into food poverty,” said Arjun Goswami, the bank’s country director.

The program will run through September 2011.

Over the past year rice prices in Cambodia have doubled, the ADB said in a statement. It added that the price of meat and fish has risen 30 to 50 percent, and farmers have been hit hard by an almost tripling in fertilizer prices.

About one-in-three Cambodians live below the national poverty line of just 45 cents a day.

Mahfuz Ahmed, the bank official in charge of the food project, said that of Cambodia’s 14 million people, about 2.6 million sometimes go hungry and suffer from malnutrition.

The bank said half the aid will be in grant form and the other half is a loan carrying an interest rate of 1 percent per year.

The project will also provide free breakfasts and take-home rations for poor children in primary schools.

Cambodian economic growth could also drop to around 6.5 percent this year due to the impact of high food prices, Goswami said.

The government has projected a growth rate of 7.2 percent.

“It is clearly slowing for Cambodia,” Goswami said. “We will need to see how far the economy can diversify and be resilient to these pressures that are coming on it.”

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