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HANDOVER OF HARDWARE FOR IMPROVING THE FOOD SECURITY AND DISASTER MANAGEMENT DATA BASE
HANDOVER OF HARDWARE FOR IMPROVING THE FOOD SECURITY
AND DISASTER MANAGEMENT DATA BASE AT THE SUB-NATIONAL LEVEL
31 MARCH 2015 AT PHNOM PENH HOTEL, PHNOM PENH

 

INTRODUCTION


The Central Project Management Unit (CPMU) had organized a half-day ceremony for a symbolic hand over of the hardware for Improving the Food Security and Disaster Management data base at the sub-national level for 33 target districts and 100 Communes on 31 March 2015 at the Phnom Penh Hotel. The ceremony was graced by His Excellency Aun Pornmoniroth, Minister, Ministry of Economy and Finance. A total of 212 participants including 18 females drawn from Ministries/Institutions, CPMU, PPMUs, Districts and Communes participated in the event.The main objective of the event was to handover hardware (solar electric system, Computers and Printers and Motorcycles) to the 100 project target communes and 33 districts of 11 Provinces for the Smooth flow of food security and nutrition (FSN) and disaster management (DM) information from communes to national level, and its linkage with the Cambodia Food Reserve System.


THENECESSITY OF THE HANDOVERED EQUIPMENTS


The EFAP-AF is implementing a comprehensive, well-integrated set of interventions that combine both hard and soft investments. The issues of food security and nutrition are covered and addressed directly or indirectly in the first 3 outputs of the EFAP-AF. The Project focused not only on investment but also on trainings. In the face of growing global climate change and rising food prices, the poor and food insecure households are expected to become more exposed to shocks and stresses, leading to depletion of their productive assets, increased indebtedness, and reduced investment in health and school. T

 

he Project is helping the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) to try to mainstream food security concept in the planning and implementation at the national and sub-national levels by: (i) improving Food Security and Nutrition M&E system, and (ii) improving institutional coordination at the national and sub-national levels supporting food security.  

 

Following up the original EFAP where it supported the CARD in capacity building and database development in the area of food security and nutrition with a view to sensitize policy makers to food security and nutritional concerns and train stakeholders at national and sub-national levels, and supported capacity building of NCDM in order to improve disaster preparedness and response, the successor to EFAP (namely EFAP-AF) has been using a strategic set of interventions that combines food security perspectives with a disaster orientation that was earlier absent and  utilizing the expertise available in both CARD and NCDM.

 

The Royal Government of Cambodia recognizes the excellent work being done by CARD in developing a web-based data base on food security, publication of Cambodia Food Security and Nutrition Quarterly Bulletin, and development of a trainer pool. CARD has also developed several food security and nutrition (FSN) training modules that are delivered by their trainer pool in national and regional workshops. However CARD has no data generation capacity and has to depend on various Government departments for data. NCDM does have access to some grassroots-level data on disaster indicators but the quality, availability and timeliness of this data is limited. Thus, all stakeholders would greatly benefit from the availability of good quality FSN & Disaster data from the village level.  Again, once the data is generated and properly tabulated it would need to be quickly shared with the relevant authorities. It is important to ensure that there is an effective, all-weather communication channel that can link up the village or commune to the province and then to ministries/institutions.

 

In other words, the challenge before EFAP-AF is to put in place both the software and the hardware needed to ensure that good quality data is (a) generated, and (b) quickly shared. The data should be easy to collect and will need to be reported as per a standardized format. In order to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the database system, EFAP-AF adopted a three pronged strategies.

 

1.    Provide FSN trainings to key policy makers, planners, ministries and institutions (i) on the concept of Food Security and Nutrition; (ii) build capacity on methodology for analyzing the situation of FSN; and (iii) identify intervention strategies and other activities to integrate of FSN into sector development plan;

2.    Provide Database Training to Province, District and communes authorities on  (i) Types of data need to be collected from the grass root level and its scope; (ii) Frequency and Timeliness of the data collection; and (iii) Quality of data (Reality and Reliability of the collected data); and

3.    Equip Communes and Districts with computers, printers and motorcycles. Given an erratic power supply, it also planned to provide solar electric system.

While the trainings were on-going, the handover event was organized on 31 March 2015 to symbolically handover the procured Solar Electric System (133 sets), Computers and Printers (133 sets) and Motorcycles (133 Units).

 

THE HANDOVER EVENT


The handover ceremony followed four consecutive steps as below.
1-    Welcome Remarks and Progress Report of EFAP-AF till date by H.E. Dr. Vong Sandap, Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Economy and Finance & Project Director, EFAP,
2-    Remarks by H.E. Eric Sidgwick, Country Director, CARM, ADB,
3-    Opening Remarks by H.E. Dr. Aun Pornmoniroth, Minister, Ministry of Economy and Finance &  Chairman, National Food Security Task Force, EFAP, and
4-    Handover Event (Symbolic Handover of Solar Electric System, Computer and Printer and Motorcycle to some selected Communes and District Officials by H.E. Dr. Aun Pornmoniroth).

The workshop participants were welcomed by His Excellency Vong Sandap, Project Director of EFAP. In his welcome remarks, H.E. Project Director recalled that the Emergency Food Assistance Project (EFAP) was started in October 2008 in response to the sharp food and fuel price rises in 2008 with a budget of $17.5 million grant, a $12 million loan and $1.5 million in technical assistance to support the Government’s initiatives (i) to provide short-term finance for the expansion of safety net programs and productivity enhancement programs, and (ii) to strengthen its institutional capacity to respond quickly and coherently to emergency situations. As the Project’s interventions were able to address structural constraints to improve food security and higher productivity, and the Project was being managed and implemented well, the Asian Development Bank has approved additional co-financing of 24.5 million in grant in 2012 from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) while the Royal Government of Cambodia has provided counterpart fund of $3.23 million to run the EFAP Phase II, the Emergency Food Assistance Project-Additional Financing (EFAP-AF). The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) remains the executing agency (EA), and oversees the implementation of the Project through the CPMU led by a Project Director. The established National Food Security Task Force (NFSTF), chaired by H.E Dr. Aun Pornmoniroth, Minister, Ministry of Economy and Finance, continues to provide policy guidance to the CPMU on project implementation.

The EFAP-AF area is focused on one hundred (100) communes from 33 Districts in eleven provinces.  Geographically, target areas comprise of 3 agro-ecological zones:
(i)    27 communes in Tonle Sap area (Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Thom, and Siem Reap);
(ii)    45 communes in Plains area (Kampong Cham, Tboung Khmum, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, and Takeo); and
(iii)    28 communes in Plateau areas (Kampong Speu, Preah Vihear, and Otdar Meanchey).

The Technical Support Units (TSUs) have been established within the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology (MOWRAM), Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), Council for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD), and National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM). The Provincial Technical Support Units of the above ministries have also been established in all the targeted provinces to assist the Project on relevant technical aspects.  

The Project is implemented by five (5) ministries and institutions along with eleven (11) provincial governor's office, 100 target commune councils, and one international NGO and its 8 local NGO partners.The intended impact of the EFAP-AF is reduced vulnerability of food-insecure households in the target provinces, while the intended outcome is improved access to sufficient and nutritious food by food insecure households.

The Project targets ID poor I and II from the 100 communes of the 11 provinces above, and in addition to the ID poor classification, the following specific criteria have been set for CFW and Subsidized Quality Seeds and Fertilizer Sales under the Project:

I.    CFW: ID poor, landless households (households with no land/or income sources), poor households having old-age dependents (65 years and above), poor households having children dependants (with family size of larger than 4 persons), female-headed households, widow-headed households, poor households having the handicapped (physical and chronic illnesses like TB and HIV/AIDS, daily casual laborers, small/marginal farmers; and

II.    Quality Input Support: ID poor card, poor households owning/having access to crop land less than 1 ha, having adequate labor capacity, net food buying farm households with family size of larger than 4 persons.

 

His Excellency Project Director then gave the detailed information on the project achievements till 31 March 2015 by the Project activities as below.
-    Subsidized Distribution of Quality Seeds Fertilizers,
-    Subsidized Distribution of Chicken, Piglet and Fingerling,
-    Cash for Work (CFW) and Small Scale Civil Works,
-    Utilization of USD 2.72 million collected from subsidized distribution of quality inputs to rehabilitate more rural roads through CFW and laterite CFW roads through Civil Work.
-    Nutrition, Basic Health, and Hygiene and Sanitation Activities,
-    Diversified Livelihood Activities,
-    Emergency Preparedness and Response in Agriculture,
-    Coordination with Concerned Institutions on Food Security,
-    Management of information and data for emergency response and Food Security and Nutrition, and
-    Capacity building for Project Management and Implementation.

 

H.E. Project Director informed that the overall progress of the project activities is estimated at about 87% and that an ADB team just visited the project and appreciated the RGC and MEF for implementing the project effectively and efficiently and for utilizing the grant and generating the revenue, and again reutilizing the revenue generated. The increase in rice yield (on average 27.5%) due to the access of quality seeds and fertilizer to the poor households was appreciated. The ADB team also appreciated the RGC for responding to the natural disasters in a coordinated and systematic manner first through the EFAP project and later on through the Cambodia Food Reserve System (CFRS).  Through the CFRS, the RGC have released 500 tons of rice seeds, 11.87 tons of vegetable seeds and 1401 tons of milled rice to around 60,000 households affected by 2013 and 2014 floods.


At the end of his welcome remarks, H.E. Project Director expressed his sincere thanks to the Team Leader and his colleagues in the CPMU, PPMUs teams, TSUs, and local authorities for good cooperation and participation during the implementation of the project, and also to CARM, ADB for their continued support for all the Project activities.


The floor was then opened for H.E Eric Sidgwick, Country Director, Cambodia Resident Mission, Asian Development Bank. H.E Eric Sidgwick, in his remark, raised that the EFAP (Phase I) was able to cover the needs of 244,000 direct and indirect food insecure beneficiary households. For EFAP-AF, it has reached over 50,000 direct food insecure beneficiary households, and there are some lessons learned from EFAP-AF to address food security issues to short, medium and long-term and to help ID Poor move out of poverty and prevent them from falling back. He also expressed that the ADB and the Royal Government is looking forward to new lessons to be learned to give additional insight to the effective measures for food security. The lessons learned generated by EFAP-AF are as below:
First: Combination of short and medium term measures such as Cash for Work, Nutritional activities and quality inputs distribution are demonstrating effective way to address food insecurity caused by emergency food price rises. This has helped to reduced risks of ID Poor farmers reverting back to adopting negative coping strategies such as selling assets, taking multiple loans that results in increased indebtedness and moving children out of schools.
Second: Improving the access to quality inputs and extension services also helped to increase productivities. EFAP provided subsidized quality seeds and successfully collected the subsidy to re-use the collected cash for investment purposes. The assessment reports showed increased trust and demands for quality seeds among the ID Poor farmers. Since the EFAP’s program started, availability of quality seeds have been increased. We look forward to finding of a special study to be conducted by the project to examine the effects of the target subsidy for quality seeds.


Third: Investment in improving or upgrading rural roads and expanding irrigation facilities through cash for work and civil work contracts have been helping the poor to access markets, social and commercial services, improving productivities among the farmers. The aim is to increase returns from their existing activities. Building the capacities of Farmer Organizations is also an important step to help poor farmers collectively market their products and buy the inputs to reduce costs and increase profits.


Fourth: Strengthening the government response system to external shocks such as natural disaster and indeed economic shocks, by the timely provision of food to the affected households and subsidized quality seeds to the most vulnerable affected households has helped reduced vulnerability. By the help of EFAP, Cambodia Food Reserve System (CFRS) has been established, a sub-decree has been issued and draft SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) has been prepared. The EFAP contributed to the physical reserve of seeds and to the cash reserve, through the cash collection from subsidized sales under taken under the EFAP. This CFRS is one of long-term mechanism to help manage food security risk within a context of effective multi stage cooperation, sustain agriculture and economic developments, and ongoing climate change. And
Fifth: Collecting data is a crucial part of the government system to build institutional capacity to monitor the progress against MDG, the National strategy for Food Security and Nutrition and the National Social Protection strategy and to identify the vulnerable households to provide necessary supports through investment projects and emergency responses.

H.E Eric Sidgwick further said that the handover of hardware is an important step for the concerned communes of 33 districts and 11 provinces as these hardware will enable them to apply the knowledge gained to systematically collect data and search important information for the government, development partners and other stakeholders to determine the affected target vulnerable beneficiaries for CFRS and disaster response supports, monitor and assess the overall food security and poverty trends for policy makers, and formulate appropriate interventions to reduce food security and quality. The project will continue its implementation until 31 December 2015.

Before leaving the floor to H.E. Dr. Aun Pornmoniroth, Minister, Ministry of Economy and Finance & Chairman of National Food Security Task Force, Emergency Food Assistance Project, H.E Eric Sidgwick said that the efforts to implement the Project without any delay and to achieve the objectives of the EFAP-AF are indeed commendable. The EFAP-AF is regarded as one of the best performing project among all GAFSP projects implemented in over 20 countries. He then offered his sincere and heartfelt congratulation to all the participants, especially the Project Director, H.E Dr. Vong Sandap and H.E Dr. Aun Pornmoniroth, Chairman of National Food Security Task Force for making both EFAP and EFAP-AF very successful ones.

 

H.E. Dr. Aun Pornmoniroth, in his opening speech, said that it was his pleasure to be there with all the participants for the handover of hardware. He said that EFAP was considered to be performing well and that is why it was chosen by the Government and ADB to implement EFAP-AF.

 

On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, he highly commended and valued all relevant ministries and institutions, both the national and international organizations including sub-national authorities (Province, District, Commune and Village levels) for the smooth cooperation, highly efficient and effective implementation of the Project, and particularly appreciated and recognized the ideal contributions of Excellency Vong Sandap, Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Project Director-EFAP, Ms. Nao Ikemoto, Senior Project Specialist, ADB, Mr. Biranchi Kumar Choudhury, Team Leader, and CPMU Team for reorienting the EFAP-AF and making it comprehensive and appropriate for the current situation and as per the actual needs of the people and Cambodia economy.

 

He said that the EFAP-AF arrangement is in line with the Royal Government of Cambodia’s long term vision of becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050, and especially the rectangular strategy phase III that enhances four strategic prioritized purposes, Growth, Employment, Equity, and Effectiveness in Public Services. He then highlighted some of the key achievements that the EFAP and EFAP-AF has made for the people and economy of Cambodia as below:

 

1st, While the Project initially focused on providing emergency response, during implementation, the Project is managed in such a way that it was successfully and effectively responded to the medium and long term objectives.  

 

2nd, The Project had initiated and successfully implemented some new activities notably the Cash-For-Work (CFW) Scheme and Quality Seed Production (both the rice seeds and complementary vegetable and other crop seeds), and distributed to farmers for cultivation in a big scale covering almost 300 communes in the whole country. The rice seeds and the complementary vegetable seeds also served as a main source of seed supply for the Royal Government to help the flood and drought affected farmers during 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

 

3rd, The Project generated revenues from the sale of seeds and fertilizers (at 50% subsidy) and are now utilizing the revenues for various purposes such as (a) a cash reserve under the Cambodia Food Reserve System (CFRS), (b) rehabilitation of rural roads and canals through the CFW/Civil Works, (c) lateriting of the old roads/canals that were rehabilitated through the CFW for a better quality, and (d) support the improvement of Self Help Groups (SHGs). And

 

4th, The Project was supposed to produce only the recommendations on how to address the food security issues during emergency/disaster situations, but it actually helped drafting the sub-decree for the establishment and implementation of the Cambodia Food Reserve System (CFRS). As an initial capital to start the implementation of the CFRS, the Project provided rice seeds and vegetable seeds as Physical reserve of seeds and a fund of USD 2 million as Cash reserve. These were used for helping farmers affected by flood in 2013 and 2014. The project also drafted SOP for implementation of the CFRS.

He said that establishment and implementation of the CFRS is one of the RGC’s proactive initiatives to protect the vulnerable households against uninsured risks of disaster and emergency.

 

He also mentioned that the Royal Government and donors do not just want to spend money on development projects, but also want to know efficiency and effectiveness of their investments. Therefore, in its first phase, EFAP had supported CARD in capacity building and database development in the area of food security and nutrition to sensitize policy makers to food security and nutritional concerns and train stakeholders at national and sub-national levels. EFAP also supported capacity building of NCDM for improved disaster preparedness and response. EFAP-AF has been using EFAP’s strategic set of interventions that combines food security perspectives with a disaster orientation that was earlier absent and utilizes the expertise available in both CARD and NCDM.

 

To complement some limitations in dissemination of Food Security, Nutrition and effects of disaster, and to attain more effective tackling of all issues related to these three topics, EFAP and EFAP-AF have supported CARD and NCDM to provide training of trainers on collection, management and utilization of Food security, Nutrition and Disaster management data. Beside from that, the Project decided to equip the Districts/Provincial Town and Communes/Sangkats with computers, printers, motorcycles, and solar electric systems so that they can develop their capacities in collection, management and sharing of information as well as preparation of urgent reports on time ensuring good quality, and help people in times of disasters effectively and on time, particularly carry out their duties under the CFRS.

To ensure longevity, he advised the district/provincial town governors and the chair of commune councils to maintain those equipment properly, register them in inventory list, keep as properties of the offices for efficient use for the benefits of people and society.

 

On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and himself, he expressedhis thanks to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), for continuously providing financial and technical support to implement many projects and programs of the Royal Government of Cambodia, including the Emergency Food Assistance Project, and also to the committee of GAFSP that provided additional financing to support theEFAP-AF. He also appreciated and recognized the contributions of concerned staff from all the ministries/institutions both national and international, and sub-national level including commune chiefs and commune working teams who have contributed much of their efforts, mental and physical, to help make EFAP and EFAP-AF implementation smooth with continued success resulting in benefits of the people and the country.
The symbolic handover was then started by H.E. Dr. Aun Pornmoniroth.