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New RTI and USAID Partnership Aims to Help Young Children Thrive in Cambodia

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — RTI International (RTI), an independent nonprofit research and international development institute, is embarking on a new five-year project to support the Royal Government of Cambodia’s efforts to improve child development for children under five years of age. With support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Cambodia Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) Activity will work to advance the physical, cognitive and social development of young children, improve their nutrition, and help ensure that children with developmental delays and disabilities receive appropriate care.

“We know that early interventions that improve a child’s physical, emotional and cognitive wellbeing – from good nutrition to nurturing, responsive interactions – support brain development and have a significantly higher return on investment than interventions undertaken later in life,” noted Veena Reddy, USAID/Cambodia Mission Director. “This activity is at the forefront of integrated early childhood development efforts, bringing together critical aspects of nurturing care, nutrition and child protection to positively impact children’s developmental outcomes. We’re excited to partner with RTI to support Cambodian children – including those with disabilities – to thrive and reach their potential.”

Despite rising incomes and other advances in Cambodia, persistent challenges inhibit the healthy growth of the country’s youngest children. More than 30 percent of Cambodian children between the ages of 3 to 5 years old are behind in reaching their developmental milestones, and about 32 percent of children under five years old are stunted, or short for their age due to malnutrition and other deficiencies. Cambodian children in vulnerable households suffer from poor nutrition and food insecurity, particularly in rural areas. An estimated 3 million Cambodians lack access to safe drinking water and 6.5 million lack access to adequate sanitation. As a result, many young children have trouble reaching their full potential.

A key partner to RTI on the USAID IECD Activity is Helen Keller International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating preventable vision loss, malnutrition and diseases of poverty. The IECD Activity complements another project implemented by RTI in Cambodia, the ongoing USAID All Children Reading Cambodia Activity, which works to improve the early grade reading skills of children in grades 1 and 2, including children with disabilities.


USAID was founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy and serves as the lead agency of the U.S. Government for foreign assistance. Since 1992, USAID has invested over $1 billion toward Cambodia’s development.

About RTI International

RTI International is an independent, nonprofit research and international development institute dedicated to improving the human condition. Clients rely on us to answer questions that demand an objective and multidisciplinary approach — one that integrates expertise across the social and laboratory sciences, engineering and international development. We believe in the promise of science, and we are inspired every day to deliver on that promise for the good of people, communities and businesses around the world. For more information, visit www.rti.org.