Remarks by Mr. Marc Bonnenfant, Deputy Office Director, Office of Public Health & Education, USAID/Cambodia, FCF|REACT Learning Summit

Speeches Shim

Thursday, September 23, 2021

(as prepared for delivery)


●      His Excellency Nim Toth, Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation

●      UNICEF Cambodia

●      Camilla Lombard, Deputy Head of Cooperation, European Union

●      Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen


Thank you everyone for joining this online Learning Summit – throughout Cambodia and even from outside of the country – to exchange information on progress since the last Learning Summit.  I am speaking today on behalf of all donors to FCF|REACT, including the European Union and USAID.

Before I begin, I should introduce myself!  My name is Marc Bonnenfant, and I am the Deputy Director of the Office of Public Health and Education at USAID/Cambodia, replacing John Collins.  I’ve been with USAID for 12 years overseas and most recently worked in Congo Kinshasa.

We all realize that 2021 continues to present challenges for us in Cambodia, as it has around the world, but especially for the poorest and most at risk in society.  This includes the COVID-19 caseload and the resulting restrictions in place to protect the health of the population.  I would like to recognize everyone's hard work and commitment to ensure children live in safe, nurturing, family-based care during this time.

The Royal Government of Cambodia has had a commendable COVID-19 response including a successful vaccination campaign and the cash transfer to ID poor households.  But we know that many of the children and families we are supporting continue to face challenges. We are committed to supporting the government and the Cambodian people through this time.

I would like to our express our appreciation to the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation for their leadership and coordination of the FCF|REACT program at national and sub-national levels.  This includes the Secretariat and Advisory Board - two bodies I have already heard very much about in just four short weeks here.

Since the last Learning Summit MoSVY has made strong progress.  We would like to congratulate His Excellency Nim Toth and MoSVY colleagues on the Launch of the Child Protection Information Management System.  Similarly – our congratulations on the report on the implementation of the Action Plan for Improving Child Care, the Family Preservation Study, and the Prakas on Kinship Care and Foster Care.  We appreciate the Ministry engaging in the EU Results Oriented Monitoring which has been shared widely with Ministry and project partners to strengthen the implementation and approval of proposals under FCF | REACT for the next phase of implementation.  We look forward to working together on these important pieces of work. 

I would also like to thank implementing partners for the adaptations you have made to your programs to continue to support children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.  A particular thank you to partners is needed for your work on the concept notes and proposals throughout the co-design process, your implementation of the child-sensitive cash transfer and livelihood interventions, and your engagement in the EU Results Oriented Monitoring.  We appreciate your commitment to share knowledge across the network by your participation in events like this one.  We also appreciate your engagement and feedback in the partner survey and key informant interviews.  We were particularly happy to see that the vast majority of partners stated that you are receiving quality support from the Save the Children team, which is helping to strengthen your organizations.

Lastly, a thank you to the Save the Children team for their leadership on the design and development of several COVID-19 risk communication materials including games, masks, stories, and videos to raise awareness about staying safe during this time.  It has been great to see how these materials, as well as much needed personal protective equipment, have reached children, families, and the social service workforce throughout the country via network members.

As many of you know, last year USAID committed an additional $2 million to support the implementation of cash transfer and livelihood interventions to respond to the economic impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable households.  We have been impressed by the findings of the monitoring of the cash transfer program, which have shown that 100 percent of sampled households said that cash transfers are the best way they can be supported during this time.  This should not be surprising - we have decades of evidence that shows that poor families know what their needs are as well as anyone.  And I’m very happy to share this - the cash transfers are reported to be preventing the separation of children from their families.  I want to pause so we can all think about that.  (Repeat) We look forward to seeing the impacts of the new livelihoods work, the next phase of the child protection projects, and the results of the endline/indicator study, which will soon be underway.

In addition, we are looking forward to the endorsement of the Prakas on Procedures for Reintegration and Residential Care Institution Transformation and Closure​ and the finalization and roll out of training modules for the Social Service Workforce.  These will provide a clear way forward to strengthen the work in the child protection sector for government and civil society.

Once again, we appreciate your continued work and collaboration. We look forward to receiving some interesting updates today and hope that these prove useful in your work. Let me stop there.

Thank you.

Issuing Country 

Last updated: October 13, 2021

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