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Cambodia

Protection against floods and droughts

Cambodia is particularly hard hit by the effects of climate change. Floods have increased in intensity, periods of drought are longer. Caritas supports rural communities in adapting better to the changed conditions. This involves important aspects such as establishing a good water infrastructure and disseminating knowledge about ecologically responsible action and good hygiene practice.

 

Country / Region
Banteay Meanchey Province, Cambodia


Target group
10,000 families / 40,000 people in 50 villages
8 primary schools with 3,250 pupils and teachers


Funding requirement
1,551,554 Schweizer Franken


Project duration
01.04.2018 to 31.03.2021


Project number
P180041


Project objectives
Communities which are alternately affected by devastating floods and droughts are better equipped to withstand disasters thanks to comprehensive risk management. The water supply is regulated, so that the risk of flooding is reduced and access to water for agriculture and household use is ensured throughout the year. In addition, 8 primary schools apply the ‘Blue Schools’ concept. The children learn about ecologically responsible action and good hygiene practice through play.


Project coordinator
Ethel Grabher, Tel: 041 419 23 52, egrabherto make life hard for spam bots@to make life hard for spam botscaritasto make life hard for spam bots.ch


Department
Asia / Europe

 
 

Background information

During the devastating years of the terror regime of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge in the 1970s and the civil war which lasted until 1993, the entire infrastructure of Cambodia was destroyed. Although the country is experiencing rapid economic growth, this is not benefitting the rural population, which makes up 80 per cent of the 15 million inhabitants. Consequently, Cambodia is still amongst the poorest and least developed countries in the world. 30-40 per cent of households live below the national poverty threshold. Cambodia is also among the countries that are most vulnerable to natural hazards and climate risks.

Banteay Meanchey Province is situated in the north-west of the country. The great majority of the popu-lation depends on agriculture for its livelihood. This is the sector most affected by the impact of cli-mate change. Most households only cultivate rice. Outmoded cultivation methods reduce the harvest. So far, the small family farms have only limited access to improved irrigation systems. During the long drought period, the fields lie fallow and the households suffer from lack of water, which impairs wellbe-ing and hygiene – despite the fact that Cambodia has in fact large potential water resources. It has lakes, rivers and seasonal rainfalls. However, during the rainy season, these are so intense that the land is flooded. Because of climate change, the rainy season has tended to become shorter, but even more intensive. In recent years, the floods have become more severe and have led to large-scale destruction. The poorest villages and families are particularly affected by these new realities. They do not have the resources to cope with disasters. They lack the knowledge of how water can be used for the expansion and diversification of agricultural production through small-scale irrigation agriculture. They lack the know-how to increase agricultural production through climate-resistant and diversified cultivation methods. 

Climate change is a dynamic, complex process. Therefore, viable adaptation measures have to be flexible and resilient. Instead of reacting to natural disasters in the aftermath and repairing the worst damage with emergency relief, this project aims to work in a preventative and damage-limiting manner. By using a holistic approach, the resilience of the communities, public authorities and the disaster preparedness network is strengthened.

 

What are we doing?

Between 2014 and 2017, Caritas Switzerland cooperated with two local partner organisations with the aim of informing the population in 35 communities about natural hazards, and to jointly develop measures allowing them to be better prepared for disasters and diversify their livelihoods. The project has achieved successes: With dams, ponds and canals, the water masses are regulated during the rainy season and stored for the dry season. Thanks to better irrigation, the yields have increased, income and food supplies have improved. The water situation during the dry season has also improved at the household level thanks to communal water tanks, with positive consequences for hygiene and health. Disaster preparedness training courses and the establishment of protective zones and emergency supplies (food, water, seeds) prevent the loss of lives and livelihoods. Thanks to the tremendous commitment of women in particular, the entire infrastructure was largely funded locally. At the political level, cooperation between the different public authorities and the population has improved. Moreover, the project supports a DRR network at the provincial level with likeminded NGOs and is involved in lobbying work at the national level.

The second project phase builds on the experiences and successes of the first phase. 50 communities are newly included in the project. Compared to the first phase, some innovations have been made. Thus, eight primary schools are newly involved, in which improved hygiene practices such as more frequent hand-washing, clean drinking water and environmental protection are being included in the curriculum (Blue School concept). Each school also benefits from improved water and sanitary installations. In the school garden, the pupils learn about the close link between the production of foodstuffs and an efficient and sustainable use of natural resources. A total of 3,150 children and 100 teachers are reached.

The government implemented two large-scale water infrastructure projects with dams and canals in the project area, which are designed to prevent floods and droughts in the region. The local partner organisations are involved in irrigation management and support the government agencies and the communities in developing sustainable solutions so that all benefit equally from the irrigation and avoid harmful effects on the natural, economic and social environment.

Climate-sensitive, ecologically sustainable agriculture becomes even more important. Farmers learn how to apply modern agricultural techniques in order to increase the yields and their quality on the one hand, and on the other hand to grow nutritionally valuable vegetables, grains and pulses alongside rice. They can then sell their produce on the local market, generate a higher income, and also improve their own nutrition.

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