The United States has begun making payments towards its $37 million aid for the protection of the Prey Lang protected area.
The Prey Lang protected area encompasses four different provinces, including Kampong Thom, Kratie, Stung Treng and Preah Vihear.
Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon yesterday said $21 million will go to the protection of forestry resources, while $16 million will go to the protection of fishery resources.
“The US government started providing the funds through USAID for protection over the next five years,” Mr Sakhon said, adding that the money will also help those living in the protected area, mainly the Prey Lang community. “We think that in the future, the community will be able to grow vegetables so they can live without foraging.”
Prime Minister Hun Sen in the past said the government is aiming for people in the protected area to receive an annual income of $3,800 – and $10,000 per year by 2050, without reliance on forestry and fishery resources.
Mr Sakhon said as of this moment, that target could not be reached without support.
“This budget will help with the government help to protect the natural resource,” said Mr Sakhon, adding that he met with USAID Food Security and Environment project director Sang Lee on Friday.
US embassy spokeswoman Emily Zeeberg could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Hoeun Sopheap, a Prey Lang Community Network representative, said Cambodia welcomes all payments from foreign countries, adding that the government will use the money to reduce poverty.
“I think that if the government uses the budget to solve the problems of people living in Prey Lang Area then it’s good because many of them do not have decent livelihoods,” Mr Sopheap said. “But if the government uses the money to only help government officials, then the forest will not be protected.”