Japan Donates $3M for Canned-Fish School Breakfasts

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Japanese Ambassador Mikami Masahiro and UN World Food Programme country director Francesca Erdelmann shake hands at a ceremony at the Education Ministry in Phnom Penh on October 17, 2019. (Vann Vichar/VOD)

About 415 tons of Japanese canned fish will be bought for schoolchildren’s breakfasts in five provinces using a $3-million Japanese grant disbursed via the U.N. World Food Programme, the organization announced on Thursday.

At a signing ceremony with the Education Ministry, Japanese Ambassador Mikami Masahiro said he hoped the project would help Cambodian schoolchildren reach their potential.

“Cambodia’s economy is growing and the poverty rate in Cambodia has decreased significantly in recent years, but in rural areas, some Cambodians are suffering from malnutrition because they do not have enough food to eat,” Mikami said.

“I strongly hope that Japan’s aid will be used effectively to guarantee a good future for Cambodian children,” he added.

More than 219,000 primary school students in Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Kampong Chhnang, Pursat and Oddar Meanchey will receive 550-calorie breakfasts of rice, canned fish, salt, oil and vegetables every morning for the 2019-2020 school year, a World Food Programme press release said.

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said the aid was essential for Cambodian children, and would supplement other ministry projects to provide breakfast for schoolchildren in remote areas.

The provision of food makes children in remote rural areas want to go study. If there is no food, they don’t go to school. So this will attract children to go to school,” Chuon Naron said.

This school year, the government will provide 2,000 tons of rice for 50,000 primary school students in Siem Reap, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Preah Vihear, Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Thom, he said.

“The principals of the schools grow morning glory and cut that morning glory at the schools to fry with canned fish, and cook rice for children to eat,” he said. “The ministry will provide funds to buy fish and vegetables from the community. And that will let the community raise fish and grow vegetables to sell to schools.”

The World Food Programme says Japan has provided more than $17 million in child food assistance from 2011 to 2019.

Currently, more than 3 million children are studying at the primary school level, according to the Education Ministry.

Unicef has reported that last year 2.6 percent of Cambodian children were diagnosed with acute malnutrition, with another 8 percent facing moderate malnutrition.

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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