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World Vision Reports 99% of Grandmothers in Cambodia Act as the Primary Caregiver to Children

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PHNOM PENH: PHNOM PENH: World Vision in Cambodia reports that 99% of grandmothers have the role of primary caregiver to young children in the family, because more than 57% of mothers between the ages of 20 to 34 have migrated to cities or elsewhere for work. This leaves the grandparents, and especially grandmothers, back at home taking care of their grandchildren.

In a learning report entitled "The Grandmother Inclusive Approach for Improved Child Nutrition" released on Thursday, 7 April, World Vision report that the increase in employment in the garment sector has caused many parents of children to migrate far from home for employment, in order to earn money to support the family. As a result, the burden of caring for young children often then falls on the grandmothers, but many lack a full understanding of how to care for young children. In response to this problem, World Vision has provided training to grandmothers, which focuses on feeding and proper nutrition for children.

World Vision’s Nutrition Technical Officer, Grana Pu Selvi, says that leaving children at home under the care of elderly can put children at risk of malnutrition, which can lead them to be underweight for their age and stunt children’s physical growth, as well as lead to psychological problems due to vitamin deficiencies.

She said, "That is why we are working on this project, to see what can be done to reduce child malnutrition, as we want to see Cambodian children be productive as they grow.”

Chea Mary, an official from the Ministry of Health's National Nutrition Program, said she recognized the need to improve the well-being of both grandmothers and children.

She said, “Through the training, grandmothers are also relieved from stress by facilitating community dialogue and building a social system to take care of the children at home when parents are not at home.”

The World Vision Nutrition Technical Officer added that the project underwent a trial period for 13 months, where many changes and improvements were made to the project indicators, however, it would take a long time to improve the training. In the future, she hopes the training will give more focus to raising the well-being of young children, especially children under the age of two.

She continued, "The reason why we planned the grandmother inclusive approach project is so that children will no longer be afflicted by illnesses and so that their mental state could also be improved. This project intends to train grandmothers and provide them with the knowledge and good practices of take care of children and providing good nutrition.”

The pilot project was conducted in Samrong Tong and Basit communes in Kampong Speu province, and lasted for 13 months with the involvement of 300 grandmothers who are the primary caregivers for children under the age of two. The project aims to build the knowledge and skills of grandmothers, to ensure the well-being of children and to reduce the stress felt by grandmothers, by facilitating community dialogue and building social support systems to address issues related to changing roles in child care.

According to the outcomes of the project, children aged six to 23 months who were able to receive a balanced diet with adequate nutrition increased by 12%, grandmothers' awareness of proper nutrition for pregnant women increased by 9%, the number of grandmothers using non-violent methods in children's education increased by 26%, and the number of grandmothers who said they felt high stress levels in their child care roles decreased by 12%.

A village health support group member, Sun Dy, said that the training of this project has made her more aware of how to take care of herself and the children in the community.

She said, "I want the training to continue because it is important for grandmothers to be able to take care of their grandchildren well, and this training will make them more knowledgeable.”

One mother, Ms. Sokpheap, said after her mother who is in charge of taking care of her children, attended the training, she became calmer and began speaking more kindly to her children, which made her very happy.

The 13-month pilot project by World Vision was conducted in two communes in Kampong Speu province, while the organization plans to extend the nutrition program to 17 other provinces and destinations in Cambodia.

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