The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

Relationship is Key in Cambodia COVID-19 Response

Communities in Cambodia have been managing their response to COVID-19 since the end of January 2020. To date, over 120 confirmed cases of the disease have been reported across 12 of the 25 provinces in the country. The national government responded by enacting a state of emergency and putting social distancing measures into place, including the closure of schools and the banning of public gatherings with more than five people. As a result of the lockdowns throughout the country, much of Cambodia has been completely isolated.

Since 2005, we have been working with our local partners, Development and Partnership in Action (DPA), to support and empower farming cooperatives in 36 provincial villages in northeast Cambodia. Many indigenous peoples live in these villages, and they use their own languages and community networks to maintain their culture and livelihoods. Even before the COVID-19 lockdowns were put into place, drastically restricting travel around the country, it could be challenging to deliver resources and communications to these rural areas.

DPA has extensive networks and close relationships with local indigenous communities and the authorities charged to maintain health and law and order across their respective provinces. They are extremely well-placed to maintain contact with all 36 villages and approximately 20,000 people with whom we have been working. Mobilising their high-capacity staff in Phnom Penh and field staff operating across Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri provinces, DPA has created a well-rounded, achievable COVID-19 response plan made possible by their long-standing relationships with these communities.

As part of their COVID-19 response plan, DPA has been distributing products to promote health and well-being and share public health messaging. Working with local authorities, DPA has delivered soap, hand sanitiser, face masks, pre-recorded COVID-19 messaging cassette tapes in local languages, food and fuel to people in need throughout their community networks in Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri.

Loudspeakers were also set up to broadcast key messages on the prevention of COVID-19 in local languages. The messages included instructions and information on social distancing, COVID-19 symptoms, proper handwashing and disinfecting techniques and health centre contact information for people concerned they might be sick with the virus.

DPA is also supporting provincial authorities and police to conduct COVID-19 prevention awareness training in the villages. Making the best use of the freedom of movement retained by these government agencies, training sessions have been conducted in many villages to help educate the local people on how to recognise, prevent and respond to the pandemic.

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Tutu ana te puehu - Stirring up the dust