Remote School Equipped to Change Lives

by Mom Chantara Soleil

With a new school building of six classrooms, many of 400 primary school goers at remote Lung Khung primary school in Bokeo district of the northeastern province will no longer have to sit in home-made plastic-tent classes at the house of the village leader for their lessons.


The new building was opened yesterday along with two-room library, protected well and latrine, made possible by the cooperation among Provincial Department of Education, Plan International and Ockenden Cambodia with the funding support from Educate a Child through Aid et Action.

“Students, parents and the local authorities, please maximize the use of these facilities. For our children here, study hard so that your parents and community are proud of you,” addressed Education, Youth and Sport Under Secretary of State H.E. Heang Sine who presided over the inauguration to some 200 participants.


According to the Director of Rattanakiri Provincial Department of Education Ms. Chan Kham Khoeu, the province has now a total of 367 school buildings with 1,204 classrooms – including the one being opened.

The performance in all levels of education, she added, is increasing noticeably. Almost 88% of the students (or 981 students, of them 466 are female) passed their lower secondary school final exam and 77% (or 642 students, of them 291 are female) successfully finished their higher secondary school final exam.


Mr. Pann Savath who is in charge of the project highlighted that it also intends to bring back the dropouts to school in order to build human resource in the community home mainly to Tumpoun ethnic minority group.

Net, a 13-year-old daughter of Tumpoun farmer parents with 8 kids, was among other children who attended the inauguration. She dropped out for 2016-2017, but said she will continue her grade 4 next academic year as she anticipates less crowded and less noisy class.


To encourage the local school goers, H.E. Heang Sine added that the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport is working on a policy to promote local teacher candidates, rather than mobilizing candidates from one area to another.


The complete set of school facilities opened will not only be able to accommodate over 600 students during next academic year

Plan International Cambodia’s Take to Leave None Behind

by Mom Chantara Soleil

The 2030 Agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals promises to leave no one behind – a foundation on which the country strategic plan 2016-2021 of child-focused NGO Plan International Cambodia, launched lately under the auspices of Minister of Education Youth and Sport H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, is built on.


“I am glad that the strategy of Plan International Cambodia for the next five years will actively engage in 11 out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which are also the commitments of the Royal Government of Cambodia,” addressed H.E. Hang Chuon Naron to almost 200 senior representatives of relevant government bodies, embassies, funding agencies, corporate sector, and like-minded organizations.


Happening on the International Day of the Girl (October 11), the five-year program kick-start also urged for collective effort to use systematic data to make girls and women more visible so that they are not left behind, especially in decision making role.


According to Plan International Cambodia’s Country Director Mr. Jan Jaap Kleinrensink, globally millions of girls and women will continue to be invisible and excluded in 2030 unless we have more gender-sensitive data to inform the decisions and investments that can transform their lives.


“Counting the Invisible – using data to transform the lives of girls and women by 2030 – is Plan International’s global call for 2016, striving for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls,” he added.


The Royal Government of Cambodia has made significant and strategic move by promoting women’s political representation.

Based on the latest figures available, the number of women as members of National Assembly is 20 percent and as ministers, secretaries of state, and under-secretaries of state is 11, 21 and 18 percent, respectively. The number of women elected as members of capital/provincial, city/district/Khan councils is 13.2 percent and of commune/Sangkat councils is 18 percent.


Increasing women’s political representation will consequently allow the issues of girls and women at all levels to be better heard and addressed.

H.E. Hang Chuon Naron highlighted that the supporting role of NGOs in the development of Cambodia, including the effort to promote gender equality is welcomed and it is indeed a priority of the government.


Plan International Cambodia started its operation in the kingdom in 2002. Centering on children’s best interest, our interventions in 17 provinces have directly benefited over 600,000 children and almost 80,000 families across Cambodia.


The work of the child focused community development organization is covering about two third of Cambodia. Looking into the lens of gender equality among children and youth, the intervention is running in close partnership with concerned government institutions and local NGOs, particularly in the area of early childhood care and development; basic education and vocational training; child protection; water, sanitation and hygiene; and nutrition.

First Indigenous Village with Open Defecation Free

by Mom Chantara Soleil

Standing out among its peers, one indigenous village, Nay in the northeastern Ratanak Kiri province lately declared open defecation free, officially recognized by joint technical teams of local authority and Plan International Cambodia.

Faster awareness of poor sanitation’s consequences, project ownership, good cooperation and adoption of low-cost facilities acceptable by all are keys behind the success.


Sanitation contributes remarkably to child nutrition as well as their physical growth and cognitive development.

According to the Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey 2014, in Cambodia more than 32% of children under five years old are stunted, 24% underweight, and 10% wasted.

Remote indigenous population especially in the northeast of Cambodia are more vulnerable and constitute significantly to the said health incidence figure.

Situated over 65 kilometers from provincial town Banlung, Nay – home to Ka Chok indigenous group, Nay was among more than 70 other targeted villages funded by Plan International offices in Sweden and United States of America, and UNICEF.


According to official in charge of the project Mr. Yin Samay, the first phase of promoting latrine use and personal hygiene among indigenous population in Ratanak Kiri will run until 2017 in three remote districts, namely Andong Meas, Veun Sai and O Chum.

Given less access to sanitation supplies, different norms and cultures, and its isolation – added the official – it takes as long as eight months to achieve complete open defection free in one village.


Inspiring Experience: Celebrity and Filming Visits to the Forgotten

by Mom Chantara Soleil

Actress and Executive Director of a Hong Kong’s leading theatre company The Nonsensemakers Ms. Jo Ngai Yee-shan was impressed with various service accesses enabled for rural girls and women so that they can meaning fully contribute to the development of Cambodia.


“Though more work needs to be done, I am glad that awareness and services on nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, education, hygiene and sanitation, and livelihood improvement are increasingly accessible by girls and women in remote areas of Cambodia,” said the actress.

She added that promotion of women’s role is an inevitable stepping stone not only to grease economic growth, but to advance peace and human rights.


The journalist-turned actress concluded her impression after a recent one-week visit by delegation of Plan International offices in Cambodia and Hong Kong, to far-off communities in Siem Reap and Ratanak Kiri province of Cambodia.

According to Chief Executive Officer Ms. Kanie Siu, Ms. Jo Ngai Yee-shan has volunteered to be Goodwill Ambassador of Plan International Hong Kong and worked hard to mobilised resources to promote situation of girls and women with unfortunate backgrounds.


“The main purpose of the Goodwill Ambassador’s visit is to witness progress contributed by Plan International to the lives of girls and women so that she can echo it to the organization’s donors, especially during the coming International Day for Girls on 11 October,” added Chief Executive Officer.


This was the second Hong Kong’s celebrity visit to project sites of Plan International Cambodia since 2012 trip of well-known actor and actress Ms. Louisa So Yuk Wa and Mr. Ekin Cheng, as told the host team representative Mr. Hor Kosal.

Improved Rural Sanitation: Success and Next Journey

by Mom Chantara Soleil

Promoting lasting access to latrine use and personal hygiene demands not only the hard work of the local authorities, but also convinced acceptance of its long-term gains by the locals, usually those stricken by poverty.


With this in mind, Plan International Cambodia and partners in collaboration with Ministry of Rural Development have been organizing series of disseminations and consultations with concerned parties at both national and sub-national levels in order to tap lessons learned from previous interventions.

The results from the gatherings will revitalize rural sanitation improvement interventions financed by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and the Global Sanitation Fund in five more provinces, namely Kampot, Prey Veng, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom, and Kratie with bad need for proper sanitation.


About two and a half decades ago, only 11% of rural Cambodians had access to improved sanitation, simply put the use of household latrine, handwashing and other personal hygiene.

To date, more than 50% of the rural population are benefiting from the adoption of affordable household latrine use as well as personal hygiene.

More work in particular that is built on past success, nevertheless, needs to be done as the Royal Government of Cambodia is ambitious to ensure 60% of rural Cambodians have access to improved sanitation by 2018 and 100% by 2025.


According to Rural Development Secretary of State H.E. Try Meng, the ministry this year has endorsed the Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene action plan to further grease the business up to its full speed.

With continuing momentum of good work and clear direction, Plan International Cambodia, partners and government counterparts are optimistic about the next journey.

Reflecting Progress of Rural Sanitation Improvement

by Mom Chantara Soleil

One fifth of Cambodia’s child mortality is caused by diarrheal infections mainly driven by poor sanitation and the practice of open defecation.


As a leading sanitation promoter, Plan International Cambodia in cooperation with the Ministry of Rural Development is bringing together around 50 government and NGO officials working directly in the field to reflect the progress of CRSHIP2.

CRSHIP2, or Cambodia Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Programme phase 2, is an intervention to join hands with the government and like-minded development agencies to reach the goal of ensuring 60% of Cambodians with access to improved sanitation across the country by 2018.


“The workshop will allow us to see the progress of our work as well as the challenges, so that we together can address and step ahead on the right track to further ensure improved sanitation in our target provinces,” said Rural Development Secretary of State H.E. Try Meng who chaired the opening of the workshop this morning at Himawari Hotel here in Phnom Penh.

Sanitation contributes positively to child nutrition as well as their physical growth and cognitive development. According to the Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey 2014, in Cambodia more than 32% of children under five years old are stunted, 24% underweight, and 10% wasted.

Executed by Plan International Cambodia and partners through the support from Ministry and Departments of Rural Development, both the first and second phase of CRSHIP’s have been financed by the Global Sanitation Fund and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council since 2011.

According to the Country Director of Plan International Cambodia Mr. Jan Jaap Kleinrensink, during the first phrase of CRSHIP implementation from 2011-2015, over 600,000 people (about 50% of them are children) especially those poverty stricken and live remote communities, have successfully adopted the use of latrines.


CRSHIP1 freed 734 villages in Takeo, Kandal, Kampong Speu, Kampong Cham and Svay Rieng from open defecation and villagers habituated better personal hygiene.

In its second phase, running until December 2018, the programme is on the threshold of phasing in five other provinces, namely Kampot, Prey Veng, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom, and Kratie, which are most deprived of sanitation access.

“In one of my recent field visits, I am so inspired by the smiles of community children and their impression. Several of them told me how happy they are to have latrine at home so that they don’t need to go to the bush to answer the call of nature, especially in the rains. Like some of you here, being a parent I cannot imagine risking my kids’ security with something as simple as answering the call of nature, let alone other implications of the absence of sanitation facilities,” added Mr. Jan Jaap Kleinrensink.

H.E. Try Meng expressed his appreciation with the result of the CRSHIP1 and repeated his support for the implementation of CRSHIP2.


Cambodia has made remarkable progress in promoting rural sanitation lately. As a result, nearly half of rural Cambodians are now having access to improved sanitation, compared to only 11% in 1990.


Safe Schools to Teach and to Learn in Vulnerable and Remote Areas

by Mom Chantara Soleil

Preventing the unnecessary loss of young lives and disrupted schooling as a result of both natural and man-made disasters is the focus of a new initiative launched yesterday in Stung Treng Province by Plan International Cambodia, Child Rights Foundation and life insurer Prudential (Cambodia) Life Assurance PLC.


Financed by life insurer Prudential (Cambodia) Life Assurance PLC, the so-called three year safe school project – from mid-2016 to mid-2019 – is implemented by child rights NGOs Plan International Cambodia and Child Rights Foundation.

“Quality education is a priority of the Royal Government of Cambodia as well as the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport. The quality cannot be fully realized if interruptions caused by poor school facilities, heavy rain, strong wind, flood, drought, so and so. School principal, teachers and children themselves know the issues best. So I encourage their lead in the work. Concerned authorities at all levels need to participate in and own the project to make it sustainable,” said H.E. Im Koch who presided over the launch.

Prudential (Cambodia) Life Assurance PLC contributed over US$300,000 of funds to get the project off the ground through Plan International Hong Kong.

Mr. Justin Chang, Prudence Foundation’s Regional Programme Manager, said, “An often-overlooked role of a life insurance company is to provide public information and activities to help keep people safe and alive, meaning this project was a natural fit for the firm.”


“Drowning is a terrible way to lose a child,” he added. “We don’t have good numbers on drowning in Cambodia but we know it’s far too common, especially for children in rural areas.

“And it’s not just floods we’re worried about. Storms, strong winds, lightning, and road accidents can also cause death and mitigating these will also be a part of the program. There is a lot that we can do as parents, schools and wider society to keep children safe and we’re thrilled to be backing this very important project.”

The Child Rights Foundation (CRF) will help implement activities related to the program. It was established by four Cambodians in 2000 and has a mandate to work for full implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, including the rights to health and health services and a quality education.

According to Plan International Cambodia’s Country Director, Mr. Jan Jaap Kleinrensink, the safe school project will initially be rolled out in 15 schools in four communes at high risk of flooding during the rainy season to help keep kids safe when disaster strikes and ensure they can return to school as soon as possible.

“Seasonal flooding is a part of life in some parts of Cambodia but flood waters come quickly and drain slowly meaning they are not only dangerous but can disrupt communities and schools for a long time,” he added.

“The problem is particularly acute for girls as the sanitary system is often the last thing to return to normal. Boys tend to cope pretty well, but girls can’t just go behind the nearest tree so tend to stay home longer. And once they’re out of school for a long time, many of them never return. This program will make sure schools are prepared to keep kids safe and return them to the classroom as soon as possible.”


Executive Director of Child Rights Foundation Mr. Vorn Koy said the Safe School Initiative will involve school directors, teachers, pupils and local School Support Committees (SSC’s) to ensure that there is community support for disaster risk reduction initiatives. SSCs are a national initiative where at least seven local villagers are elected to the committee to ensure communities have a say in decision making for their school’s development.

“There is limited understanding of disaster risk and disaster preparedness in Cambodia among teachers, parents and children,” he/she said. “In the rainy season floods can come quickly so it’s important that schools and their local communities are prepared to ensure there is no loss of life and as little disruption as possible to the school year.”

The project will transform the 15 participating SSCs into School Disaster Management Committees (SDMCs). These will be supported to conduct a hazard, vulnerability and capacity assessment (HVCA) and work with Children Councils to develop a Disaster Management Plan for each school to mitigate these risks and increase school safety.

These committees will closely co-operate with Commune Committees for Disaster Management (CCDM), which have been set up by the government to lead disaster management at the commune level.

The 15 schools selected for the project are from O Rei, O Svay, Thalaboriwat and Preah Rumel communes.

Stung Treng province has around 135,000 people in just over 29,000 families. It consists of Siem Bouk, Siem Phang, Sesan, Thalaboriwat and Stung Treng districts, with the provincial center – also called Stung Treng – located closely along the Mekong River.


Safe school project was driven by the commitment of the Royal Government of Cambodia’s commitment to implement the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015. It is well aligned with the 2007 Education Law and the Child Friendly School Policy adopted by the government.

To date, across Southeast Asia more than 11,500 students have learned skills including basic first aid, school evacuation procedures and how to identify potential hazards in their classrooms. We hope our safe school project will increase the number of resilient students and school especially in Cambodia so that they can fully develop to the fullest potential.


Cambodia is considered one of the most hazard-prone countries in Southeast Asia, with floods considered a particular risk, especially along the shores of the Tonle Sap Lake and along Mekong River Watersheds.


In the last quarters of 2011 and 2013, a combination of successive typhoons and torrential rains caused extensive flooding across the country. Climate change, soil erosion caused by deforestation, and inadequate irrigation systems and water conservation measures are set to make flooding more frequent and extreme.

For more please key: #SafeSchoolInitiativeInStungTreng