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Saturday, 26 July 2014

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Barrow Hairy Biker Dave Myers visits Cambodia

BARROW celebrity chef Dave Myers has just returned from Cambodia where he has helped to launch a new Oxfam report highlighting the challenges faced by people around the world in getting the food they need to survive.

EM Hairy Dave in Cambodia 1
The children of Russey Keo commune have shown Dave Myers how to wash his hands properly at an Oxfam hand washing station.

On his first trip with the charity, the Hairy Biker visited a rural village where Oxfam has been training local farmers to use a new method of rice cultivation, one of the projects being backed by the charity to help boost food security.

This method of rice cultivation uses less seed and labour but produces more rice. Oxfam has been working closely with womens' associations in Cambodia to provide new skills and opportunities to inspire business start-ups.

Dave Myers visited one particular project where the charity has given women leaders mobile phones to access and share free information on market prices and weather conditions so they know when to plant and harvest their crops. He spoke to a woman who has used this method to initiate her own mushroom business with other women in the local community.

Mr Myers said: “During this trip I was able to see for myself how the simplest of solutions can have a positive ripple effect to individuals, their communities and beyond. I spoke to a farmer, using traditional methods all his life, now so convinced by the positive results of these new ways that he is spreading the word to others.

"I spoke to inspirational women, who with the help they have received have been able to grow their own businesses. They are now ambitious to expand and feel empowered in their local communities. All of the people I spoke to told me how far-reaching this support has been, with this extra income enabling them to send their children to school, opening up their future life choices.”

One in three people in Cambodia drink dirty water, with an average family spending up to half of their income on medicines. On the last day of his trip, Mr Myers visited one of Oxfam’s water and sanitation projects in Kratie province. Here the charity has been supporting women entrepreneurs to produce affordable clean water and improve hygiene practices, which has helped raise the status of women, reduce poverty and the spread of water born diseases.

He continued: “I’ve been really inspired by what I have seen on this trip. It is amazing to be able to witness firsthand how far my donation goes with Oxfam, providing people with the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty and change their lives for good.”

The Cambodia trip was organised as part of the Good Enough to Eat index, which launches today (Weds). It is the first of its kind, comparing data from 125 countries to create a global snapshot of the different challenges people face in getting the food they need to eat. The index comes at a time when one in eight people in the world go hungry despite there being enough to feed everyone, and highlights how distribution and prices are important factors. It brings together data on whether people have enough to eat, can afford to eat, the quality of food and the health outcomes of people’s diet.

Overall The Netherlands, followed by France and Switzerland in joint second are the best places for people to eat in the index, while Chad is the worst followed by Angola then Ethiopia. The UK is among the worst performers in Western Europe on whether citizens can afford to eat, sharing 21st position with Cyprus and with only Austrians and Icelanders fairing worse.

In Cambodia, ranked 89th lowest overall on the index, Mr Myers saw how Oxfam is working worldwide to provide long-term solutions that will help people grow enough food to eat and make a living.

This trip and the Good Enough to Eat index follows the launch of Oxfam’s new fundraising campaign Lift Lives for Good, which aims to show how simple solutions on the ground can bring lasting change to individuals and in turn their communities and beyond. The campaign is also calling for action on two major challenges that can exacerbate food poverty – inequality and climate change.

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