CARE BLOG

Will Cambodia Follow Ethiopia”s Step?

7/17/08

SorothaChan from Cambodia is working for CARE Germany”s
Press Department in
Bonn
. For the next
2 months, the journalism student will write a diary about his country – the
daily problems the kingdom is facing and the challenges its people are dealing
with.



The 10th of July was the opening of photographer Phil Borges' "WomenEmpowered" exhibit at the Kunst Museum Bonn in Bonn.
Some of these pictures are about women and girls
in
Ethiopia
.
Twenty pictures were hung on the wall waiting for audiences, while those in
Africa are in need of help.
The pictures tell me about
the difficulty and the struggle for surviving. Some of the portrayed look so
sad, while some are smiling with positive expectation. For me, I know nothing
about
Ethiopia

except gender discrimination and the current food crisis.

In the press,
Ethiopia
was described as a serious
spotlight of food insecurity. Skyrocket inflation, drought and conflict are tearing

Ethiopia”s
economy and standard of living. For millions of people, there just isn”t food
available, but in many cases even where food is for sale on local markets, the
price is highly excessive for the poor. People are resorting to desperate
measures, including migrating to towns in the search of jobs, looking for aid, and
selling valuable assets. Some parents even pull their children out of school to
find food or to look after the other children while the parents are hunting for
jobs. People eat watery porridge with salt. Some families reduce the number of
meals per day. Even some of the government staff cannot feed their families
with their monthly wage. The whole month salary that a policeman gets can only pay
for a meal. At the same time, diseases such as acute watery diarrhoea,
meningitis and measles compound the situation.


Will Cambodia Follow Ethiopia”s Step? image 1

Abay, 29, of Awash Fontale, Ethiopia, ran away from her family at the age of 12, in order to avoid female circumcision. Eight years later, she returned to her village and began work as a station agent for CARE, supervising the opening of a primary school and a health clinic, and the construction of a well. After five years, she finally convinced one of the women to let her film a circumcision ceremony. She showed the film to the male leaders. They had never seen a female circumcision and were horrified. Two weeks later, the male leaders called a special meeting and voted fifteen to two to end female circumcision in their village. Photo credit: ©2004 Phil Borges=’http:>

This information alerts me about the future of
Cambodia
. In
Cambodia
, the
soaring price for food is attacking everyone. My family and other neighbouring
families now have to limit their expenditure. Our purchasing power parity is
becoming weaker. In the past five years, my mother could feed me and my other
four siblings with $2.5
U.S.

per meal. But now, we need to spend up to $5
U.S.
for the same number of people
while the salary is the same as before, or has just slightly increased. “Everything
is so expensive’ is whispered among women at the market all mornings. Over the
past year, inflation has spiked to 10.8 percent, which has driven up the cost
of food and other staple goods and has worsened the poverty.

Even though
Cambodia
is said to be an
agricultural country, where farmers account for 75 percent of the population,
we still import many goods. In markets, I can see imported vegetables and
fruits from Thailand and
Vietnam
, rather
than local products. Each Cambodian farmer has only a small basket of fruits or
vegetables to sell, each early morning. In addition,
Cambodia
has to import all agricultural
equipment. How can we afford these things any longer, if they become so
expensive?


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