Child Survival in Cambodia
Funded by USAID’s Global Health bureau, IRD’s Child Survival and Health program uses an integrated community-based approach to achieve a sustainable decrease in child malnutrition in the Kampong Chnang Province, Cambodia. The mortality rate for children under five in the province is significantly higher than the rest of Cambodia, with 160 deaths per 1,000 live births. A front-line area throughout Cambodia's two decades of civil war, the province was only resettled in the last 10 years and remains particularly poor and underserved today.
The program uses what is called the Positive Deviance or PD/Hearth model of teaching nutrition. Staff members identify uncommon, beneficial practices by mothers or caretakers of well-nourished children from impoverished families, and then spread these practices and behaviors to others in the community with malnourished children. The “hearth” is the place where the nutrition education and rehabilitation part of the program is carried out. Caretakers and volunteers learn to prepare “positive deviant” foods based on those made by mothers of well-nourished children. IRD is working with mothers in 40 villages. Children in these villages are weighed and monitored frequently to assess their growth and given extra care if need be.
Community-wide dramas, puppet shows, and videos are performed throughout the Province to spread the messages of proper hygiene and nutrition further.
IRD is also training communities in the use of solar disinfection (SODIS) systems for water, which is a low-tech system using the power of the sun to create clean water. So far, trainings have been held in 50 villages, and participants have started using the system immediately.
The program will increase the ability of families and communities to help prevent food and water-borne infections and meet the nutritional needs of almost 6,000 children under the age of five.