National Honours: Medals awarded to United Nations Staffs
22 February 2021
Two United Nation Officers - Mr. Kaushik Barua and Mr. Sakphouseth Meng - have been awarded medals under the Royal Order of Sahametrei and Sowathara of Cambodia
Mr. Barua and Mr. Meng are the Country Director and Country Programme Officer of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Both were recognised for their remarkable contributions to poverty reduction, rural development and smallholder agricultural development in Cambodia. Through the IFAD-financed and supervised Agriculture Services Programme for Innovation, Resilience and Extension (ASPIRE) program implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), over 61,000 farmers across 24 provinces in Cambodia have been supported to form farmers’ groups and business clusters. The program has supported rural farming households with appropriate climate-resilient technology, extension services and on-field support and market access. The IFAD team has also collaborated with the Ministry of Commerce to promote access to markets and the Ministry of Rural Development to provide climate-resilient infrastructure to rural communities. These interventions have resulted in marked increases in household assets and agricultural productivity across the supported communities.
The IFAD team has also promoted renewable energy technologies, with over 5,000 small farmers adopting sustainable and environmentally friendly renewable energy technologies on their farms. New digital technologies have been promoted, especially following the Covid pandemic that causes disruptions in physical access to markets. The Chamka App developed through support from IFAD and MAFF provides a virtual market platform and technical support, with over 11,000 farmers already registered. These initiatives contribute significantly to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and support the Royal Government of Cambodia 2030 Vision.
Mr. Barua and Mr. Meng were recognised for their exceptional commitment to the objectives of the projects, for their close collaboration with Ministries, provinces, and community partners and for introducing key innovations across the agricultural sector. The Government of Cambodia conferred the Royal Order for these contributions. Their work contributed to improved food security, increased household incomes and assets, primarily achieved from improvements in agricultural productivity and diversification and from investments in roads and irrigation implemented by the IFAD supported projects. In terms of human capital, many beneficiaries have obtained new skills, including improved agricultural practices or changes in (non-agricultural) practices and behaviour (e.g. leadership skills, bookkeeping, nutritional feeding of children). The IFAD projects support facilitating networking and the emergence of rural organisations. The projects have contributed to strengthening the capacity of national-level government, sub-national administrations and Provincial Departments of Agriculture and Provincial Departments of Commerce nationwide. The IFAD portfolio has also contributed to some aspects of policies and institutions along with substantial support by other development partners in relation to areas such as the promotion of participatory and demand-driven approaches and pluralistic agricultural extension services, with participation on of private service providers, and introduction of new “institutions” in the extension system.
Besides the focus on innovations and incomes, the IFAD country team has ensured that agricultural development activities address the needs and priorities of the most vulnerable and prepare rural Cambodia for the challenges posed by climate change. All projects have a clear focus on poor communities and smallholders. All training and production support activities are designed to be climate-resilient, nutrition-sensitive and to promote women’s empowerment. This is the core principle of the United Nations, “Leave No One Behind”, a transformative element of the Sustainable Development Goals.
IFAD has been active in Cambodia since 1996, with its support moving from recovery to building institutions to focusing on the market economy and supporting Cambodia to reach upper MIC status. As a United Nations agency and a member of the United Nations Country Team, IFAD objectives and approaches are developed under the overall vision of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).
The United Nations has a long history of promoting peace and advancing human development in Cambodia. The nature of UN operations has evolved over time in response to the changing needs of the country. From technical cooperation during the earliest days of Cambodia’s independence; to border relief operations, repatriation of refugees, peacekeeping and elections after the 30-year civil war; to post-conflict reconstruction and nation-building; right up to the present-day commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).