Cambodia is fortunate with few COVID-19 cases and no deaths to date. However, with borders closed and major industries halted (including garment manufacturing and tourism), economic and social impacts in this poor country have been severe. Quaker Service Australia (QSA) supports four local partners to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods in poor agricultural communities, providing training in permaculture techniques to improve nutrition and build livelihoods.
Cambodian partners acted quickly to deal with immediate demands caused by the epidemic, providing education and materials, particularly in isolated areas without access to information provided by authorities. Staff traveled by motorbike to isolated villages, using megaphones to spread hygiene messages. In small groups and open areas they demonstrated hand washing techniques, and distributed masks, soap, and hand sanitizer.
Families whose food security was already precarious were severely impacted by job losses, market and border closures, and returning economic migrants. Some partners distributed emergency food, but the focus was on helping people become more food self-sufficient with seeds, seedlings, and implements to help establish home food gardens. One partner produced videos on several topics, including hand washing, promoted via Facebook. Another video aims to motivate children to continue studying and maintain attachment during school closures. QSA is now working with partners to address ongoing social issues, including the risk of increased domestic violence, child abuse, and undocumented migration.