The Asian Development Bank and government announced success on Friday for emergency food assistance that was widely criticized by villagers
The ADB and government undertook a $40-million emergency
food distribution between Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, handing out nearly 120,000 tons
to 68,000 poor families in 200 communes around the Tonle Sap lake and in Phnom Penh.
“The assistance is making a very real difference in the
lives of Cambodia’s
most vulnerable, in particular its children,” Arjun Goswami, ADB country
director, said in a statement.
The aid was in response to rising food and fuel prices that
have squeezed Cambodia’s
poorest, but a number of villagers complained that the distribution was plagued
by corruption and favoritism by local leaders.
“Unfortunately, the project’s funding simply could not cover
all of those families in need of food assistance,” Goswami said. “It is
understandable that some of those who could not be reached with assistance feel
A statement from the Minister of Economy and Finance called
the emergency distribution “highly positive, except in one commune in Kampong
Chhnang province, where the distribution was suspended because of villagers’
The ADB and government said they would conduct further
investigations into distribution irregularities starting Nov. 17.
“The protests that were mentioned in the media, it’s not
sure they are true, but we have a mechanism to check,” said Vong Sandab, deputy
secretary-general of the Ministry of Finance, who was in charge of the
The ADB has so far received 51 phone complaints of
distribution irregularities, said Long Piseth, program officer at the ADB.