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Rice distribution for vulnerable communities of Phnom Penh in the Covid-19 crisis

On April 7th, 8th and 9th, PE&D with its partner Sko, a cambodian NGO, participated in a rice distribution to 147 families of poor urban communities of Phnom Penh in Chbar Ampov 1 and Chbar Ampov 2 communes, that were particularly affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

“Today, I don’t know If I am happy or sad,” said Stephanie Selle, Cambodia country director of Planète enfant & développement. “ I am happy to meet you all. But I am also sad because the virus makes people’s lives, your lives, even more difficult than usual.”
Covid-19 crisis, indeed, has resulted in a major loss of income for the inhabitants of the urban poor communities living near the Tonle Sap river. Usually earning a living as tuk tuk drivers, fruit sellers to the restaurants, trash collectors, many of them have lost their job because of the pandemic that has led to the closure of restaurants, of the country to tourism, and so, to less use of transportation by tourists and locals.

Sokhanya*, mother of 3 children, works as a trash collector for a private company. Her husband does not have a job, and her income alone was not sufficient to provide her family’s needs. “Before covid, my children used to complete our revenues by selling fruits to the restaurants after school. The recent outbreak of Covid-19 crisis has made us lose this additional income and thus, I struggled a lot to find a solution to feed everyone.” Sokhanya explains.

The commune authorities were in charge to identify families like Sokhanya’s who would be supported. Pov Huot, commune chief of Chbar Ampov 1, first met the different village leaders to discuss the way they could help the vulnerable families, then the commune workers visited each of them to assess their situation and identify who needed to be supported the most. “We first reached the red cross through the district. Phnom Peng city Hall also mobilized their resources. Then, I contacted the network of partner ngo, and individual donors to complete the action and help the neediest families to face the situation. We also have been raising concern on the virus and distributing free masks everyday”, he tells. Sokhanya is relieved: ” I now have food for my family for 2 weeks with these 25 kilos of rice I received.

PE&D has supported Chbar Ampov 1&2, Deaum Chan, Deaum Chan 1 and Preak communes for 3 years now, with the Hali project that renovates houses and conducts micro-project to solve issues raised by the communities : sewage systems, bridges… The social component of the project also supports and accompanies the most vulnerable families in solving their psycho-social issues and addresses gender based violence in the communities. Sov* who received rice on thursday also benefited from a renovation of her house in the past months.

*names have been changed

Claire HELLUIN, Volunteer for PE&D Cambodia

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