Australia is continuing to invest in its flagship agricultural and health development programmes because the two sectors have become vitally important for Cambodia’s response during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview with Khmer Times Australia’s Ambassador to Cambodia Pablo Kang said Australia has initially responded to the pandemic and was now finalising an updated “Australia-Cambodia COVID-19 Development Response Plan” to be released in October.
“Through the Health Equity and Quality Improvement Project, Australia has already provided 50 ventilators and 46,000 biohazard waste bags, as well as the procurement of 80 ambulances with the first shipment of 10 ambulances from Japan now arrived,” Kang said.
Through Australia’s ACCESS Programme and at the request of the Cambodian government, we procured and handed over 52,500 masks for disabled people’s organisations and 45,000 masks for women’s groups working with survivors of gender-based violence.
“We are also pooling our funds with Germany, the Republic of Korea, the World Bank and the Cambodian government through the Health Equity and Quality Improvement Project (H-EQIP) to ensure more than 2.3 million of the poorest Cambodians have access to free healthcare through Cambodia’s Health Equity Fund,” Kang added.
In addition to health, Australia has also been working with Cambodia’s agricultural sector through its current flagship programme the Cambodia-Australia Agriculture Value Chain Programme (CAVAC) valued at $60 million from 2016-2021.
“In partnership with the Cambodian Government and private sector, the programme aims to support the modernisation of Cambodian agriculture – helping Cambodian farmers access reliable, year-round water, high quality seeds and input and equipment to improve their efficiency,” the ambassador said.
“We’re helping to identify and introduce new, higher-value crops for Cambodia and working with the Council for the Development of Cambodia on how to attract more investment in agro-processing and better links to international markets, as well as directly supporting SMEs [small and medium enterprises]on food product development,” he added.
Kang said he was pleased that Prime Minister Hun Sen recently endorsed CAVAC’s work on irrigation and mechanisation and was keen for those practices to be disseminated widely across the country. He added that the programmes were also very focused on setting clear, measurable targets and carefully tracking performance. “For example, we’ve set a goal for one of our programmes – Investing in Infrastructure (3i) – to provide 1 million more Cambodians with access to clean, piped water,” he said. “We carefully track construction milestones and connections across 81 partnerships with piped water network operators and monitor if we remain on track to meet that target to deadline,” Kang said.