Thursday, December 12, 2013

Social service mapping helps identify and assist families in need

Luch Morn and her granddaughter Sok outside their tiny home.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2012/Reid
Slightly bent over in the stifling Cambodian heat tending to her corn in Teuk Laak village, Luch Morn, 64, is finally pleased to see the fruits of her labour. Having planted the corn seeds in February, Morn takes some comfort knowing that she will be able to create various meals for her family using the corn during the next few months, in addition to the food supplies she recently received through the Commune Council.

In April 2012, the aging grandmother of two, benefitted from the UNICEF- commune budget which is funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The commune budget, aims to provide assistance to the most vulnerable children and families in communities. Through this budget, Morn was deservingly provided with food supplies for her and the children, consisting of 50 kilos of rice, food seasoning, 12 cans of fish and a little over US$10 in cash.

“Last year I was struggling to put together one meal a day to feed myself and my granddaughters”, recalls Morn wiping her sweated brow.

In November 2011, Morn was left to care for the young children when her 18 year-old daughter, Chuob Pov, and her son-in-law packed their small bags and left the family home abandoning their two children two year-old Sok and three year-old Sokahan.

“I can make up to US$2.50 a day from collecting rubbish for others, clearing land for planting cassava and sometimes cleaning the local pagoda”, she says “But the money is not regular”, she adds wearily. On average she spends US$1.25 a day on basic items for the family.

Morn says she struggles to raise the young children with her small earnings.

Commune Council intervention

Morn and her two grandchildren were identified through the Commune Council social service mapping as a vulnerable family in need of support because they are ID Poor – a government system that identifies poor households and their level of poverty so that families can access free or reduced services and can be directly targeted by development assistance.  The mapping tool – a UNICEF pilot designed to help local communities gather data on the poorest households in a participatory manner - detects gaps in social services and identifies vulnerable children and families that are most in need of additional assistance. To date, Commune Focal Point for Women and Children, Meas Sokha has identified 10 ID Poor families in the village, and all will obtain financial/material support through the UNICEF supported fund.

Recently, Morn was involved in a motorbike accident where she sustained multiple injures leaving her with chronic back pain and partially deaf in one ear.

“Assistance from the Commune Council couldn’t have come at a better time for me,” explains Morn, “I haven’t been able to work as much following the accident and I’m earning less than I did before.” In addition to the accident, the frail grandmother has just recovered from a bout of serious diarrhoea.
When asked when she last saw her daughter, Morn replied, “I’ve seen my daughter only once since she left home. She came back six months ago and gave no assurances she’d be coming back again,” she says sadly. “She didn’t bring anything for the children and I don’t know where she lives.”

Although, Morn may be left to care for the young children for now, the Village Chief has reassured her that through the UNICEF supported commune fund, they plan to renovate her existing home by providing a more comfortable living environment for Morn and her granddaughters.

The thought of a new home brings with it the promise of a brighter future for Morn and her grandchildren, but for now, as her gaze falls on the children playing in the yard, she deeply worries about her own daughters whereabouts.

By Angelique Reid

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