2nd national food, nutrition strategy developed

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Youths participate in raising nutritional awareness in Koh Kong province on May 21. HELEN KELLER INTERNATIONAL CAMBODIA

The Council for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) is working closely with relevant ministries and partners to develop the second National Strategy for Food Security and Nutrition (NSFSN) as part of efforts to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Say Ung – director of the Department of Food Security, Nutrition and Health at the CARD General Secretariat – said the five-year NSFSN will go into effect after the 2019-2023 plan ends its run.

Ung was speaking at the Second Youth Nutrition Champion Camp in Areng of Koh Kong province, held from May 20-22 and organised by Helen Keller and GIZ MUSEFO in collaboration with CARD and the National Nutrition Programme.

“Improving the food security and nutrition of children and youths is an essential factor for developing the next generation of human resources because they are our successors who will inherit the nation and it requires that they put their focus on education, healthcare, morals and ethics, involvement in social work, environmental awareness and the nation’s development,” he said.

He said that in order to reach the 17 SDGs, especially the SDG 2 of “ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutritional status and promoting sustainable agriculture”, CARD is working closely with relevant institutions and partners to develop the second NSFSN.

“One of the new issues that needs to be addressed is promoting youth participation and giving young people a voice to determine their future. Recently, the National Dialogue on the Food System in Cambodia published a roadmap for a sustainable food system in Cambodia by 2030, which was submitted to the UN in September 2021,” Ung said.

According to Chea Mary – manager of the Ministry of Health’s National Nutrition Programme – the Second Youth Nutrition Champion Camp had four main goals: to increase youth awareness of nutrition and healthy cooking methods; teach youths healthy recipes in consultation with chefs; allow young people to share their insights, experiences and opinions on these topics; and to discuss peer educator campaigns and their challenges as well as next steps that can be taken in the area of nutrition.

Mary said that when children and young people suffer from malnutrition, they unknowingly pass on that legacy to the next generation.

“When children suffer from malnutrition, they miss out on a lot of opportunities and are unlikely to achieve their standard physical growth potential. They tend to have their growth stunted, so they are shorter and not as physically strong. If the malnutrition is serious enough, they may also develop serious brain and cognitive impairments,” she said.

She added that scientists have found that when children suffer from malnutrition such as emaciation and micronutrient shortages, they are less likely to learn in school, more often have to repeat classes and on average it reduces their earnings potential as adults by 22 per cent.

Mary said global studies show that children who are chronically-ill are more likely to be malnourished, and poor families often have to spend 20 per cent of their total income on medical care, further exacerbating their financial troubles and preventing them from saving money to improve their lives.