The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has bolstered its ties with the Mekong region by this week unveiling its new office in Cambodia and pledging up to $20 million through a new program.
The opening of the office signals the official launch of the first-ever Swiss cooperation program in Cambodia, said SDC in a statement on Thursday (March 21).
The agency, tasked with the overall coordination of Swiss international development and humanitarian activities, plans to allocate 10 million Swiss francs ($10.5 million) to 20 million Swiss francs annually for cooperation efforts in Cambodia that center on agriculture and food security, local government and citizens’ participation, job creation and professional training.
This is on top of the 4 million Swiss francs that SDC disburses to the Kantha Bopha hospitals every year. These hospitals offer free, high-quality health care to Cambodian children and training assistance to health care personnel.
The new program’s launch is rooted in Cambodia’s recent classification by Switzerland’s parliament as a priority country for Swiss development assistance.
Indeed, Cambodia is now included in SDC’s wider regional cooperation program spanning the Mekong area. This regional cooperation, which also includes Laos and Vietnam, will run from 2013 to 2017.
Before the launch of the new program, SDC only lent support to the Kantha Bopha hospitals and to Swiss nongovernmental organizations active in the country.
SDC now hopes to boost efforts to promote social peace and stability across the Mekong region.
The agency puts the percentage of Cambodians living below the poverty line at approximately 14.5 million, with food insecurity, caused by the dependence of most of the population on subsistence agriculture, a particularly pervasive problem.
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