Thursday, November 06, 2008

$35 million in food aid misused in Cambodia

An emergency food aid project in Cambodia has been tainted by corruption. The Asian Development Bank says that 35 million dollars (US) in aid has been abused. Many poor Cambodians have complained that rice from the food aid program has not been given out fairly.

In this "breaking news" story found in The Straits Times from Malaysia, the people blame village chiefs for giving it out to better off friends.

The Straits Times November 6th

Up to three hundred Cambodians complained to the ADB that they had not received rice handouts while village chiefs have registered relatives and political supporters for the project, the bank said.

'I think that some people have been left out. Some of the village chiefs have not followed procedures properly,' the ADB's Piseth Long, implementation officer for the project, told AFP.

'Procedures need to be followed for the targeted people - the 20 per cent poorest should receive aid,' he said, adding that the bank was reviewing how many complaints were genuine and attempting to get aid to those who deserve it.

Cambodian human rights groups have said more than 1,000 poor families in several provinces have complained of corruption by village chiefs in the rice distribution project.

Mr Piseth Long, however, stopped short of saying that fraud had been found in the process and noted that 'to a certain extent the project has fulfilled its goal' of handing out rice to the poorest of the poor.

The project began last month to help hundreds of thousands of impoverished Cambodians in rural areas and slums over the next three years amid soaring inflation, food and fuel prices.

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