Thursday, April 03, 2008

ADAF – Supporting New Zealand organizations to make a difference in Asia

ADAF is a contestable fund that gives New Zealand companies the opportunity to use their technical expertise to help developing countries. It’s an initiative that sows the seed for a better future.

Compared with roads in New Zealand, the roads in Cambodia are chaotic – cars, motobikes, trucks, tuk-tuks, cyclists and pedestrians weave all over the road as people get from A to B. Road safety is a major issue. The number of accidents and fatalities from road accidents is on the rise in and can have dire consequences as it is often it the main bread winner who is the victim of road accidents which can in turn leave families without income. Every day three people die and many more are injured – a startling number and one that has increased by 50 percent over the last five years.

Things are about to change and the Cambodian government is making some big changes. Soon all drivers will be required to have a license and helmets will become mandatory. Improving road safety statistics is a big job – and one New Zealand organization is working to raise awareness from the ground up.

Funded through NZAID’s ADAF scheme, Educating New Zealand has been promoting road safety in four provinces in Cambodia. Working with Handicap International, Educating New Zealand has developed an innovative school curriculum that teaches awareness and the road code to Cambodian children. The learning modules are interactive and encourage participation to create an engaging learning experience – a change from the rote learning model often taught in schools. The police and the ministry of education are on board and teachers are taught new methods to introduce the concepts to their students. The project is starting to see some real results and through the support of the EU will soon be rolled out throughout the entire country.

Another innovative project funded by ADAF is an experimental rural road development in the north of the Cambodia. The roads here are bumpy and under-developed. New roads are expensive and time-consuming to build. More importantly, new roads only have a limited lifespan - often lasting no longer than three years before pot holes become the norm. It’s the dry season at the moment but in the wet season, these roads become muddy clay ponds that are often impassable.

Fraser Thomas has built 10 kilometres of road using stabilization technology that is the norm in New Zealand, Australia and other countries. This new technique is a cost effective sustainable solution that will see the roads last much longer than the existing roads.

Roads are critical to development. They allow farmers to get to market, children to get to school, and sick people to get to hospital. Community leaders from the villages near the demonstration road tell me that they are happy with their new roads – children can get to school with ease and it’s much easier to get to the market. The contractors who have learnt new skills through ongoing training workshops and hands-on training are equally positive. They are now able to create stabilized roads and are looking forward to starting work on new contracts to build more roads that link communities. The Asian Development Bank and the Cambodian National Roading Board are about to start building a further 50 kilometres of road using this technology and there is another 30 kilometres in the pipeline - proof that good ideas and new technology from New Zealand can make a positive difference.

For more information on NZAID’s ADAF fund, go to
You can also read more about Educating New Zealand here


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