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.
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 Councilor 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”.
One recommendation of this workshop was to 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.