Project name “Protection of Natural Resources and Strengthening of Adaptation Capacities of Peasants to Climate Change”
In Svay Rieng province, 8,2% of households are categorized as ID Poor I and 12,8% as ID Poor II . The project area is characterized by exploitation of natural resources, in particular the deforestation of forests is severe – often because the government gives land concessions to private companies and since subsistence farmers who live close to or in the forests are not aware of the importance to save resources. The clearing of forests fosters erosion and draining as well as deteriorates water absorption and therefore the fertility of soils which leads to the farmers’ low agricultural productivity.
The province of Svay Rieng experience changes in climate with long-lasting droughts and extreme rainfall and floods . This has consequences for the condition of the (original) forest lands and biodiversity and, as a result, also for the survival of the forest dwellers who already live at poverty level. 30% of the country are forested, thereof 1,8% primary forests. Cambodia is rich in natural resources and biological diversity, however with a declining trend. Rain and dry forest areas decrease alarmingly every year. Of high importance for the farmers is rice cultivation and export. In this regard, Cambodia is self-sufficient since 1999; the conditions in the central lowlands make three harvests per year possible. Low quality seeds, complicated access to credits with often high interest rates, poor soil quality due to chemical fertilization and non-organic cultivation methods as well as lack of irrigation structures deteriorate the livelihood of families, especially for poor households. Government statistics show that 10% of families in Chantrea, 11% in Kampong Ro, 12% in Svay Chrum and 0,4% in Svay Teap have access to irrigation systems for their land. In order to fight against the reduction of natural resources and biodiversity as well as to ensure the survival of future generations, the Cambodian government has declared sustainable forest management a priority in 1998 and adopted a forest management system that will be of benefit for the poor people living in rural areas.
36% of households in the 77 villages do not have access to sanitation facilities, 75% use unsafe drinking water . The schools have in average 2-3 latrines for 200-400 children. The financial means for an expansion through the school management committee are insufficient. There is no joint effort in order to create the conditions to establish an open defecation free village as there is poor self-organization and a lack of leadership by the community leaders and committees. Furthermore, residents are not aware of proper health and hygiene practices.
Food insecurity and migration are other problems. 2.735 families in the project region suffer from hunger respectively food shortages for 4 to 6 months annually due to low crop yields. This situation is further aggravated by the fact that solely rice is cultivated as livelihood. The lack of diversity makes harvests very vulnerable to devastation through pest infestation or climate change effects (droughts, unseasonable floods). Moreover, rice cultivation in the target communities depend fully on rain periods as there are barely any irrigation systems.
The low self-organization of communities and families is another development obstacle. On the one hand there is no systematic and structural approach to protect biodiversity and natural resources. The committees and community leaders are not aware of their rights and duties. On the other hand, individual farmers can only access credits from private lenders (with an interest rate of 12%). Government institutions offer micro credits with 3% interest, these have however high bureaucratic obstacles so that they cannot be accessed by farmers. Local self-help structures in forms of saving groups and revolving funds, as known in other villages communities and usually lent with an interest rate of 2%, have been established in a former project and the project-executing agency has made good experiences with self-organized saving funds in neighboring regions. Being organized in cooperatives strengthens also the joint management of farmers as a group. The project-executing agency implements measures in the following proven areas:
(1) Sustainable resource management for the protection of natural resources
(2) Strengthening adaptability and self-organization of farmers
(3) Access to safe drinking water, sanitation facilities and application of hygiene practices
(4) Biodiversity and environmental children’s rights
The project “Protection of Natural Resources and Strengthening of Adaptation Capacities of Peasants to Climate Change” has developed with 4 objectives as following; (1). Sustainable resource management for the protection of natural resources is strengthened through the establishment of natural protection areas (community forests) and administration structures in the target communes, (2) Farmer‘s adaptation capacities and self-organization is strengthened through crop diversification and introduction of innovative cultivation methods, (3).Access to safe drinking water is improved and application of hygiene practices is increased and (4). Environmental children’s rights and resource protection measures are integrated in community committees, schools and local administration. The project duration is 3years and start from 1st January 2016–31st December 2018 under funded by Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and Terre Des Hommes Germany. The project locations are 73 villages in 12 communes in four districts (Svay Chrum, Svay Teap, Chantrea, Kampng Ro) in Svay Rieng province. The project beneficiaries is working with direct beneficiaries among 2,735 poor households (there of ID Poor I: 975 and ID Poor II: 1760); the farmer families will be trained in new agricultural cultivation techniques, form self-help groups and cooperatives independently and organize themselves in farmer associations. 4,000 children and youth work in schools and ecological children’s rights (ECR) groups; 146 children/youth and 12 monks (2 per village, respectively 1 per commune) will be trained to be environmental multipliers/TOT who themselves in turn organize activities and 16.000 households in 12 communes (68.000 persons), 40.000 children & youth are indirect of project beneficiary.
At the end of the project, the five community forests and renewable energies: through raising the local authorities’ and resident’s awareness for the advantages of sustainable forest resources and biodiversity not only the participation at community forests is increased. In addition, the general concept of community forests is established which is based on national guidelines and official recognized by Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). Social entrepreneurship ensures that the commune generates income through rendering services. This is due to the fact that general incomes are administered by executing committees and can be used for activities aiming to protect and preserve community forests. Renewable energies are promoted through the use of wood-saving stoves and biogas plants. This ensures a reduction in forest destruction in the project location increases the forest lands and creates a habitat to preserve biodiversity.
Sustainable improvement of livelihoods: Farmers that implemented the desired agricultural production very well have promoted as trainers who can disseminate techniques and approaches and share their knowledge with other residents. All farmers that have received support and training through the measures were organized in local self-help organizations (saving groups) and agricultural cooperatives. These were acknowledged as community-based organizations by the local authorities and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. This status was enabling the members of the newly-formed organizations to receive credits in order to start activities that can support to sustainably generate income and improve rice production. It is expected that the foreseen interest incomes, arising through the credits, are more than sufficient to cover these cost items. Furthermore, it can be expected that the project beneficiaries are enabled to cover the total costs after the end of the project. The sustainability of achieved objectives depends mainly on the reinforcement of technical and financial capacities of farmer households and if they are able to react to changes in the environment with the application of the improved practices.
Water, sanitation and hygiene: Village health support groups (VHSGs) are formed and trained as well as linked with the official health care system such as communal medical health care centers and hospitals in the target area. These have the task to raise awareness and distribute contact information to the population. With regards to water wells and filters, the project has disseminated the guidelines and regulations which were taken over by the local authorities. Solidarity groups will contribute to the repair and maintenance of these facilities. In order to improve the behavior with regards to hygiene, members of commune administration, self-help groups (saving groups) and CBOs are selected and trained in order to sensitize the population on sanitation and hygiene according to CLTS guidelines.
Environmental children’s rights: Primary school teachers have the task to embed environmental children’s rights topics in the school curriculum. The aspect clean environment “has promoted in the target locations with the participation of school children. Mainly Buddhist monks – who function as trainers in campaigns for environmental children’s rights and are responsible for the sensitization of the population – disseminate their gained knowledge to other monks, elders and lay persons who stay in the pagodas during Buddhist holidays. In addition, school teachers disseminate the knowledge to other teachers during meetings that are conducted every Monday in order to ensure that these topics are adequately considered in the school lesson plans. The project staff of Santi Sena is supported by the local authorities with embedding environmental children’s rights, climate change and disaster risk reduction in the community development plans.
Integration of project activities in the community investment programs (CIP): The project management works closely and in constant coordination with the community authorities of the target locations in order to achieve the integration of the project in the annual community investment programs. During the district integrated workshops (DIW) it is important to present the activities supported through the project and how these ensure the involvement of local authorities and relevant government bodies from beginning until end as they are the actors who are responsible for the support of the activities after the end of the project.