Care for Children
Developing a national family placement system in Cambodia in order to improve children’s life quality through family-based care as a positive alternative to institutional care
2021 - 2024

Between 2005-2015, Cambodia saw a substantial rise in the number of Residential Child Welfare Institutions (RCWIs), also known as orphanages, being run and the number of children living within them. Decades of research around the world show that RCWIs cannot provide the individualised care, love and attention a child needs to develop and thrive. When orphans and vulnerable children cannot be reunited with family members, family care/placement (foster care or adoption) that is well monitored and supported is an extremely effective alternative, ensuring they can grow up and thrive in a safe, stable, and nurturing family environment. Although there are examples of NGOs operating their own family care programmes in Cambodia, these are often unregulated and unaccountable, as well as being ultimately unsustainable in the long-term. Furthermore, there is currently no government run family care system in Cambodia. This is where Care for Children comes in.

Care for Children works in partnership with governments, including a matched funding scheme, helping them to reform their child welfare systems. The purpose of this project is to equip the Cambodian government with the knowledge, skills and encouragement to develop their own family care system. By developing five RCWIs into best-practice models of family care, these will serve as inspiration to the government and a blueprint for all other RCWIs across Cambodia to follow once this pilot stage is complete and the project enters stage two of four, ‘National roll-out’.

The project sponsored by the Light Foundation enables five government run RCWIs to set-up and run their own family care programmes, whereby children are moved out of the institution and into local, loving foster families, where they can be nurtured to reach their full potential. In the long-term, these five RCWIs, which will become best-practice models of family care. They will serve as inspiration to the government and a blueprint for all other RCWIs across Cambodia to follow once this pilot stage is complete and the project enters ‘National roll-out’, reforming and strengthening the system nationwide through national family care guidelines and legislation change.

2021 - 2023

APOPO – a global non-profit organization that has developed an innovative method using African giant pouched rats, nicknamed “HeroRATs”, to detect landmines and tuberculosis (TB) using their extraordinary sense of smell – is able to significantly speed up the detection process by using a combination of rats as well as manual deminers and machines. As rats only sniff out the explosives and ignore any scrap metal, they can clear an area the size of a tennis court in 30 minutes, whereas a metal detector would take up to 4 days. At the same time, the deployment of rats makes the demining process safer for the involved professionals and it is safe for the rats themselves. APOPO further deploys rats for tuberculosis (TB) screening as they increase partner clinic detection rates by 40%. Traditionally patients arrive in health clinics for TB screening and if the clinic is unable to diagnose them they return back home, continuing to spread the disease. Thanks to the amazing sense of smell of the HeroRATs they can screen 100 human sputum samples in 20 minutes. This would take a lab technician in a partner clinic up to 4 days.

The Light Foundation’s grant enabled APOPO to scale up its HeroRAT’s efforts for two key sites where their deployment generates tremendous impact: Tanzania and Cambodia.

  • In Tanzania, APOPO is increasing TB detection. Pre-Covid, the disease killed more people worldwide than any other infectious disease every year, with pediatric TB especially being a major cause of illness and death in children. Tanzania is classified as a high TB burden country, and the Dar es Salaam region is disproportionately affected. There is a big case detection gap, which hampers the efforts to eliminate TB. APOPO’s objective is to increase TB detection by 40%, and in particular, ramp up TB detection and care for children in Dar es Salaam, increase youth screening by 15%, and encourage their treatment initiation through improved “Find & Treat“ services for TB and capacity building among local partners.
  • In Cambodia, APOPO is accelerating mine clearance through the use of cost-efficient land release and animal detection methods. Cambodia remains one of the most heavily contaminated countries in the world, with the highest number of landmine victims per capita. APOPO’s objective is to release 15,138,000 m2 of contaminated areas in Preah Vihear, Siem Reap and Battambang provinces over three years, thereby increasing civilian security and protecting children lives. APOPO is also actively piloting the use of the HeroRATs with partners, thereby envisioning their long-term systemic change on cost efficiency across the Mine Action industry.

Funding from the Light Foundation will allow APOPO to clear 15,375,00 m2 of mine-free land to be used afterward by local small-holder farmers. An estimated 2,000 landmines are expected to be safely disposed of. Further, the program assists 350 child victims with transport to rehabilitation centers and back and is working with its partner MAG (Mine Advisory Group) to integrate HeroRATs within their assets. Approximately 10,000 children and 75,000 adults will be screened for TB which will increase early treatment of TB infected children.