Guideline for integration of climate change and disaster risk reduction in local planning

Climate change and disaster risk reduction is key priority in today development priority. Guideline for integration of climate change and disaster risk reduction into local planning is available here:

Guideline for integration of Climate change and disaster risk reduction into local planning 

First Project Coordination Committee Meeting of the Life and Nature project

As a national agronomist for the project “Strengthening the adaptive capacity and resilience of rural communities using micro-watershed approaches to climate change and variability to attain sustainable food security in Cambodia (Life and Nature: GCP/CMB/036/LDF)”, I participated in the first project coordination meeting organized at Himawari Hotel, on 17 August 2015.

It is to notice that FAO partners with MOE is implementing the project mentioned above to build adaptive capacity of rural communities and reduce their vulnerability to Climate Change  through micro-watershed management and climate resilient agriculture practices to ensure food security of thousands farmers in 4 micro-watersheds in Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, and Ratanakiri provinces.

The Project Coordination Committee (PCC) serves as a platform that relevant project stakeholders at the national level can be used for the purpose of discussion, problem solving, learning and reflection. The specific focus of the PCC is on technical components of the project, in particular, in relation to policy guidance, implementation and the coordination of activities. PCC created with composition of representatives from different government line ministries/departments.

Project Coordination Committee Meeting at Himawari Hotel, Phnom Penh.

Project Coordination Committee Meeting at Himawari Hotel, Phnom Penh.

The first meeting of the PCC was organized with 13 PCC members to understand nature of the Life and Nature project, to discuss and finalize roles/responsibilities of the PCC as well as to gather comment from PCC members on the proposed annual work plan of the Life and Nature project.

The PCC members are representatives from Ministry of Environment, Cambodian Agriculture Research and Development Institute, Forestry Administration, Royal University of Agriculture, Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology, Ministry of Interior, General Directorate of Agriculture, and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN).

During the meeting, PCC members discussed frequency of the PCC meeting, how the life and nature project work at the sub national level, procurement process, composition of the PCC members, roles and repsonibilties of the PCC, and some other issues.

The meeting finished with fruitful results. Some actions to take are:

  • Investigate FAO and GEF regulations how the project provides fund to commune councils
  • Prepare and submit revised declaration to minister for signing (other 2 MOE officials to be added in the PCC)
  • Roles and responsibility of the PCC Chairs to be highlighted in the revised Declaration
  • Revise PCC TOR
  • Create Dropbox for storage and sharing of relevant document / information

Project Launching Workshop

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Ministry of Environment jointly launched the Global Environmental Facility funded project “Strengthening the adaptive capacity and resilience of rural communities using micro-watershed approaches to climate change and variability to attain sustainable food security in Cambodia (Life and Nature). 

17 August 2015, Phnom Penh –  Climate change in Cambodia is being given increased attention as smallholder farmers face challenges of prolonged drought, extreme flooding and unpredictable rainfall which have had serious impacts on the rural poor, particularly women and indigenous people.  Such impacts include reduced agricultural production, food insecurity, and unstable livelihood options.  Furthermore, limited capacity in integrated watershed management is adding to the vulnerabilities of farmers from climate change and depletion of natural resources.

សិក្ខាសាលាផ្សព្វផ្សាយគម្រោង ជីវិត និងធម្មជាតិ

សិក្ខាសាលាផ្សព្វផ្សាយគម្រោង ជីវិត និងធម្មជាតិ

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Environment of the Royal Government of Cambodia (MOE) jointly organized a full day national inception workshop at Himawari Hotel, on 17th August 2015 to raise awareness of the project entitled “Strengthening the adaptive capacity and resilience of rural communities using micro-watershed approaches to climate change and variability to attain sustainable food security in Cambodia” (Life and Nature). The project will be implemented by FAO and MOE in four selected micro-watersheds in Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear and Ratanakiri provinces.

The event was presided over by H.E. Say Sam Al, Minister of Environment and Ms. Nina Brandstrup, FAO Representative in Cambodia, and included presentations by the project team on the main outcomes and strategies for implementation. The commune councilors gave an excellent overview of the climate change impacts they are facing and potential solutions with project assistance to the reverse these impacts. The afternoon session focused on the project organizational and management structure, annual work plan, etc.

Under an agreement signed on 3 Jun 2014, all project partners shall strengthen their collaboration to better address continuing food insecurity, climate change challenges, and natural resources management” said H.E. Say Sam Al, Minister of Environment.

In her welcome speech, Ms. Nina Brandstrup, FAO Representative stated that Cambodia is one of the countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change in the medium- to longer term and is highly vulnerable to climate variability in the short term.  Over time, agricultural productivity will be reduced and will negatively impact on livelihoods of the rural populations if we ignore climate change. The rural poor and the “near poor” will be the most affected as their capacity to adapt to the new environmental constraints is low. This will exacerbate the existing food security challenges and economic hardships and we must act now.

Speaking in the workshop, Dr. Stacy Crevello, Chief Technical Adviser and project leader stated that “the Life and Nature project aims to build adaptive capacity of rural communities and reduce their vulnerability to Climate Change through micro-watershed management and climate resilient agriculture practices to ensure food security”. She added that “this will be done by  integrating Climate Change Adaptation into agricultural and food security policies and planning; participatory watershed management to reduce climate impacts on natural resources and agriculture; demonstrating and promoting climate resilient agricultural practices through farmer field schools, and support alternative livelihood options for women”.

Ms. Leam Sangim, a female commune Councillor from Kulen Chheung commune in Preah Vihear province expressed that “through the implementation of this project, vulnerable women in my commune will have improved their agricultural and business skills to adapt to climate change”.

សិក្ខាសាលាផ្សព្វផ្សាយគម្រោងជីវិត និងធម្មជាតិ

សិក្ខាសាលាផ្សព្វផ្សាយគម្រោងជីវិត និងធម្មជាតិ

One recommendation of this workshop ensure close collaboration with local authorities, relevant government departments, NGOs, and other stakeholders at the community level to provide greater benefits for community members.

The workshop were well attended by representatives from government ministries/departments, including officials from the Ministry of Environment, the General Directorate of Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology,  the Ministry of Rural Development also from the provincial level. The workshop was also well attended by non-governmental organizations, commune councilors, and community members.

Follow up meeting on the preparation of the project inception workshop

Life and Nature project team followed up progress of the organization of the project inception workshop that will be organized on 17 August 2017 at Himawari Hotel, in Phnom Penh.

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Life and Nature project meeting

In general, everything was on track.

It is to note that the Life and Nature project is implementing by FAO Cambodia through close cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and coordination with other government line ministries/departments such as General Directorate of Agriculture of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, etc. The project is funded by Global Environment Facility with a total budget of approxi. 5 millions for implementing in 4 selected watersheds in Preah Vihear, Kampong Thom, Siem Reap and Ratanakiri in the duration of 5 years from 2015 to 2019.

The project inception workshop will be chaired by H.E. Say Sam Al, minister of the Ministry of Environment and Ms. Nina Brandstrup, FAO representatives with participation of approximately 80 participants from the four pilot watersheds. Government officials from relevant government ministries & department at national and sub-national level will also attend the workshop.

Facilitation training for commune Councillors and local stakeholders

Under the Life and Nature project, FAO in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment (MOE) organized a 3-day training from 21 to 23 July 2015, in PDE office in Preah Vihear town, for 28 local authorities and stakeholders (3 women), the participants consisted of commune councilors, PDE officials, community rangers from four pilot sites (Ratanakiri, Preah Vihear, Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces).

Co-Trainer: Ms. Long Sophary

Co-Trainer: Ms. Long Sophary

The objectives of the training was to enable the community representatives to prepare and present related issues of their communities for the project inception workshop that expected to be organized on 17 August 2015 in Phnom Penh. The first day of the training mainly focused on the general concept of the project, climate change, watershed management, and gender. The second day discussed facilitation and presentation skills needed for the participants to prepare their presentations for the project inception workshop, and finally exercises on the presentation, reflection on the training and planning were conducted in the third day of the training. It is important to notice that adult learning methodologies (such as small group discussion, plenary presentation, question and answer forum…) were used during the training.

Training participants

Training participants

As a result, the participants have gained understanding and skills that will enable them to prepare for the project inception workshop. The trainers have identified some potential participants in each project sites to be invited to attend and make presentation of their communities in the project inception workshop. At the same time, this training has built a good cooperation and communication between FAO and the MOE to smoothly implement the Life and Nature project.

Participatory Enterprise Development Training

A Participatory Enterprise Development Training was the last training session organized by EU-MALIS project before its completion by end of June 2015. The objective of the training was to investigate farmers’ behaviors and to find out how the farmers can increase their income from rice (rice production and selling). This training also informed the farmers, local authorities and stakeholders about a new FAO’s project, called “Life and Nature project”.

self introduction

self introduction

Mr. Terry Davis was the main trainer (he is an Australian volunteer with FAO-EU MALIS project). First, the training was organized for 12 FAO staffs to enable them to facilitate the same training process for 17 farmers and commune councilors (7 women) in the second stage. Additionally, two government officials from Agriculture Department and District Agriculture Office also participated as the observers and speaker during the training. Participatory Learning approach / Adult Learning methodologies were used during the training. Terry said “the main tool for adult learners is question”, this means that the learners are encouraged to raise questions and to make decision by themselves. Main topics of the training focused on target setting, calculation of gross margin from rice, price trend analysis, sharing of weakness and strength from existing rice cultivation practices, sharing of experience from average farmers on rice production practices, discussion on post-harvest and selling, sharing of experience and recommendation from the best farmers and technical experts (from FAO and PDA), and finally the participants jointly prepared their action plans what they should do to double income from rice.

Presenting the group discussion result

Presenting the group discussion result

As a result from the training, the farmers have gained ideas how they can improve their income from rice, the action plans were raised by the farmers, and those action plans are useful the Life and Nature project to design FFS training curriculum and interventions for Kulen Chheung commune, Preah Vihear province.  The farmers, commune councilors and other local stakeholders have gained more detail about the Life and Nature project.  The farmers, commune councilors and government officials from Agriculture Department/Office would continue good cooperation with the Life and Nature project. General Observations:

  • Calculation of the margin from the small group discussion is much different. This is because of some farmers included the fixed cost, and some other farmers did not include the fixed cost.
  • Speaking skill / presentation skills of the best farmers need to be further improved
  • A woman commune Councillor responsible for women and children is active to participate with the project – she can be a potential commune Councillor to work with
  • When the best farmers shared their experience, mostly focused on the solution but not much about the prevention
  • The training seemed more focus on the technical rice production, but not much about enterprise development. Perhaps, the farmers came out with just technical aspect at the first session of the training, and they will put more focus on the enterprise development in the next sessions.
  • Action plan should be prepared by the farmers, not the project staff. The project staff should not dominate the discussion – next time, farmers themselves should be the facilitators, the project staff can be the observers and help to motivate the discussion

Raised bed gardening used for vegetable planting in the peak raining season

According to vegetable farmers in Svay Rieng province, Cambodia, the peak raining season is normally from August to October 2015. Most of the vegetable farmers stop vegetable planting during this period of time due to too much rain, it created water-logging and the vegetables cannot grow well under this condition. This means that the farmers lost their food and income during these three months (Aug-Oct).

On 12 May 2015, the SNV Climate Smart Agriculture Project in cooperation with the Provincial Department of Agriculture of Svay Rieng province and Cambodian Farmer Associations Federation of Agricultural Producers (CFAP) organised a training for 28 farmer leaders from 6 communes in Svay Chrum district on the raised bed gardening. This technique can be considered as a climate smart agricultural technique because it enables the farmers to grow vegetables in the peak raining season. Farmers who experienced in applying this technique said that it is also a good water saving technique, therefore it can be also applied in the duration of water shortage.  It is easy for water and soil management.

Photo of the raised bed garden is shown below

Photo from Kuy Vutha (facebook)

Raised bed gardening applied by a vegetable farmer in Kampong Chhnang province Photo from Kuy Vutha (facebook)

Actually, the raised bed gardening is not a new technique. Some farmers have already applied this technique, but adoption of this technique is still low. There are some observation on this technique, some people said that this technique is more appropriate for commercial farmers who produce vegetables for market supply rather the subsistence farmers who produce for family consumption. Perhaps, high investment is needed for applying this technique. For instance, construction cost of the raised bed garden could be a constraint for some (small) farmers. To address this challenge, the project will work with relevant local stakeholders to make it economically cost-effective.

Photo from Kuy Vutha (Facebook)

Photo from Kuy Vutha (Facebook)

The climate smart agriculture project will work with several farmers to test this innovation during this raining season. If it is successfully applied with fruitful result, it is expected that other farmers will adopt this technique to make more income from vegetable growing in the peak raining season.

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