CAFOD, Community Development in Cambodia

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With depleting natural resources due to land encroachment by timber harvesting companies and illegal logging, many indigenous communities in Cambodia are struggling to support themselves. The change in climate is bringing extreme weather conditions that are damaging the local environment and adding pressure to the available water sources.

 

With the support from CPL Aromas, the communities are being taught about their rights to their land and how to sustainably use natural resources to improve their conditions. The support is enabling local organisation- 'Development and Partnership in Action' to improve the lives of over 5,260 indigenous people living in 18 villages across Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri Provinces.

 

Thanks to the help provided, the community have gained a better understanding of land law and their own rights. They have learnt how to protect them and use them more effectively to improve their lives. Meetings for Natural Resource Networks were held with the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Cambodian Rural Development Team and local authorities. Negotiations were made with the economic land concession company in Pou Kong to stop the clearing of Indigenous peoples’ reserve land and an agreement was made to dig a canal to demarcate the boundary.

 

Training has been given to members from surrounding villages which has aided in the communities having more reliable food sources and increased incomes. The training courses discussed a range of topics including economic watering, organic fertilisers and harvesting techniques/marketing. 121 farmers have gained improved agricultural skills and the average household income has increased.

 

In Cambodia, women and men are seen very differently and women continue to experience a disproportionate impact of poverty and insufficient food. CAFOD along with partners have been helping to promote women’s rights and have introduced courses addressing issues that are related to this. Two of the ladies from CGFPs (Community Gender Focal Points) have been selected to become village chiefs, one as a deputy and the other as a commune councillor which is great progress. There are further developments that are being piloted such as Gender Road Maps that are hoping to effectively improve the quality of lives of those involved.

 

Community Forestry
662 households have protected and benefited from 2,653 hectares of community forests in seven villages. 399 households harvested products including rattan, bamboo, vegetables, honey and firewood. Each earned around 550,000 to 630,000 Riel (about USD 137-157). 46 people attended two one-day courses on honey marketing and making use of resources. This increased their knowledge and skills, helping them to produce honey to sell in local markets. The training covered topics like cooperation, quality assurance and saving. To date 27 members have a savings fund of USD 1,425 which the most vulnerable members can borrow from to support their families. They faced the challenge of a declining number of wild bees, so they plan to consider the possibility of also rearing them in beehives.
600 seedlings were supplied to the communities of Malik and Teun, including mango, lychee and plum varieties. These have been planted and maintained by CF members and patrol teams. 47 members took part in CF patrols, which resulted in a significant reduction in illegal logging and land grabbing in the area. 
CAOD has also delivered training on accountability and complaint mechanisms to 40 people in Teun and Malik.

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Resilient Agricultural Techniques

  • 121 farmers gained improved agricultural skills
  • 41 agricultural group members have used mulching, drip irrigation systems and pumps to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change and can now produce vegetables even in the dry season
  • 91 have used organic fertiliser from animal dung and agricultural techniques to destroy pests
  • 54 have applied resilient crop techniques by adapting when they plant crops such as cassava and using new varieties which have improved yield and value
  • 65 farmers and co-operative leaders received training in crop production techniques, managing funds, bookkeeping, business management, conflict resolution, accountability and the value chain
  • Average household income among 226 farmers interviewed had increased by USD118
  • The community of Thmey has constructed ten open wells for water consumption and home gardens

Gender
Many women in Cambodia continue to experience emotional and physical abuse and the disproportionate impact of poverty and insufficient food. They take on most household chores and often also earn an income to support their families. Their potential is often restricted by gender norms. CAFOD partner organised nine one-day village meetings with 86 people to select 18 community gender focal points (CGFPs) to promote women’s rights and their participation in decisions, leadership and development and address gendered issues such as domestic violence. 

The women selected received a training course on women in leadership and development which covered women’s rights, gender, domestic and family law, government strategies to promote women and women’s issues related to land concession and natural resource management, domestic violence, alcohol abuse and education. They are mobilising their communities to discuss issues and needs in relation to health care and water and sanitation services for women and girls, electricity and road conditions. They have linked in with local authorities and the Provincial Department of Women’s Affairs to increase women’s participation in economic and political spaces. They are taking part in provincial and national networks to increase cooperation,confidence, communication and learn good practice. Two CGFPs were selected to become village chiefs, one as a deputy and two as commune councillors. 


CAFOD partner is piloting Gender Road Maps with three couples which aim to address unequal power relations at household level and promote healthy and equal relationships among couples. This helps to improve their family circumstances and prevent emotional and physical abuse. CAFOD partner conducts a baseline survey, training, monthly meetings, accompaniment and coaching. Three one-day education sessions increased the couples’ understanding by from 34 to 66 percent. This was followed by another session to identify and plan to address their challenges. Six packs of vegetable seeds, 18 chickens, one pig, hoes and accompanying training on cultivation and care including vaccination were provided. The couple who received vegetable seeds have earned USD500 from the sale of various crops and those which received small livestock continue to rear them. All families are working together effectively to improve their quality of life.

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