Ambassador von Marschall visits 4 Cambodian provinces 12-13 March 2014

Ambassador Viisit in Kampot Enlarge image German Ambassador talks to nurses during visit of Kampot hospital (© Deutsche Botschaft Phnom Penh)

Less than 6 months after the new German Ambassador presented his credentials to HRH King Norodom Sihamoni, Baron von Marschall has begun a planned series of courtesy visits on provincial governors with a 2 day road trip which took him and his wife, Catrione Garrett, to the provinces of Takeo, Kep, Kampot and Kampong Speu.

Ambassador von Marschall’s first call was on H.E. Srey Ben, Governor of Takeo province. He was joined in the Governor’s office by local and HQ representatives of GIZ, the German Development Agency, who are supporting officials from Takeo province in the development of a spatial planning process which involves the use of geographic information systems (GIS). Governor Srey Ben briefed the Ambassador on the importance of history for the hard working people of Takeo and the challenges of growing, processing and bringing to market the province’s main product, rice. He thanked the Ambassador for the German government’s financial and technical support for his province over the years.

Next Ambassador von Marschall visited the planning unit of the provincial Ministry for land management, urban planning and construction for a presentation by the Cambodian/German planning team on the spatial planning process including the use of remote sensing for mapping purposes.

Following lunch with members of the delegation in Takeo overlooking the provincial capital’s historic water course which has provided irrigation for the region since the 6th Century, the Ambassador travelled on to Kep city where he was received by the Governor, H.E. Mr. Ken Satha and his team. The Ambassador pointed out that he and his wife had already had the opportunity to enjoy the special atmosphere of Kep before. The Governor said that this was the first official visit by a German delegation since Kep received the status of a province in 1992. Governor Ken Satha outlined the impact of tourism on his small province, the challenges of dealing with large numbers of absent landlords and continuing problems for a small number of remote areas in accessing water during the dry season. The local representative of KfW, the German development Bank, Gerhard Läzer, accompanying the Ambassador, informed the Governor of plans to extend a KfW financed health voucher system providing free access for underprivileged women to pregnancy and family planning services to Kep province in the very near future.

The next day started with a courtesy call by the Ambassador on H.E. Mr. Koy Khun Hour, the Governor of Kampot province. The Governor thanked the Ambassador for Germany’s’ support. The Ambassador complimented the Governor on his efforts to preserve the built heritage of Kampot city, which is contributing, along with Bokor resort, to the area’s increasingly high profile as a tourist destination. The Governor explained that the key to his province’s success in reducing the percentage (16%) of its population living below the poverty line lay with the diversification of its industrial base, its good transport infrastructure and a well integrated ethnic mix in the population. Mr. Koy Khun Hour gave the Ambassador a detailed insight into the complexities of the land title issue for his province and demonstrated his determination to find a fair solution for the 38,000 families affected.

The Ambassador then took the opportunity of his visit to Kampot to visit the maternity and pediatric wards and the nursing department of the Kampot Referral Hospital where he met doctors, midwives, nurses – including trainees – and patients. The hospital had received support in the form of equipment from KfW and continues to receive technical support from GIZ whose representatives the Ambassador also met on site. The Ambassador’s visit to Kampot finished with a tour of the private clinic RHAC, a programme partner of KfW for its health voucher programme.

Ambassador von Marschall’s final call was on H.E. Mr. Ou Samourn, Governor of Kampong Speu province. The subject of land management was again raised as a very current issue, which the Governor was confident that, despite its complicated nature could be solved, especially if boundaries between public and private land were clearly marked and respected by everyone. The Ambassador explained the situation and difficulties regarding land distribution management following the reunification of Germany in 1990. Mr. Ou Samourn also detailed the main sources of employment and income for his province (cassava, mango, palm sugar and the garment industry) and the Ambassador stressed the importance of respect for human rights in the use of economic land concessions when it comes to exportation of produce to member states of the European Union.