The project aims to contribute to reducing poverty and increasing incomes and environmentally sustainable livelihoods in disadvantaged communities in Cambodia. This is achieved by strengthening Self-help Groups in ten villages and supports two Self-help Group Federations in Trapeang Rung commune (Kaoh Kong province) and Phat Sanday commune (Kampong Thom province), Cambodia. The project is implemented in partnership with Assis Aid.
Phat Sanday, commune is a floating community on the Tonle Sap Lake. The Tonle Sap ecosystem is under serious threat from deforestation and poor water quality due to faeces and waste directly disposed into the lake. Trapeang Rung, located in the Southern Cardamoms Mountains, is one of the last remaining wildlife corridors in Asia. Threats to the biodiversity of the region include habitat loss due to illegal logging, wildlife poaching, and fire from slash-and-burn agriculture. Low education levels, poverty and lack of employment options are resulting in degradation of the natural environment. Communities require opportunities to generate environmentally sustainable incomes to improve their standard of living.
The project has six strategies:
- Strengthening Community-based Self-help Groups and Saving Clubs/Federations and supporting women in leadership roles.
- Supporting two newly established Federations to manage cooperative businesses.
- Livelihood training and micro-enterprise development with a focus on woman's
- economic empowerment.
- Holistic community education through inclusive children’s clubs.
- WASH education.
Women who work in rural Cambodia are paid low wages and put up with poor working conditions. Approximately 63% of rural women are dependent on work such as grocery selling, rice farming, livestock, cash crop production and vegetable farming. A lack of better education due to poverty, limited access to schools, facilities and resources has also contributed to unskilled workforce. Girls in poverty-stricken families forgo school to help family to take care of siblings while parents work, and complete household chores. This community empowerment project addresses the basic needs of villages and is designed to encourage locals, in particular women, to voice their needs and address the issues, which largely contribute to a male-oriented nationwide workforce.
The Sustainable Livelihoods project provides technical skills training and has allowed women in rural Cambodia to up skill in on-farm and off-farm activities based on their needs. It has allowed diversification in their economic activities, increased household income and opened up new opportunities (for example - chicken-raising and bookkeeping) in agriculture. Women have also been encouraged to take on leadership roles within established community-based organisations and savings groups.
The project works with 10 existing Community Based Organizations. By providing these organisations with skills and support they are able to form partnerships with local authorities and to influence commune priorities, including how commune funds are spent.
Further, these organisations identify opportunities and priorities in their own communities. They are then supported to develop project proposals and apply to Live & Learn for grants that fit within four thematic areas:
- Set-up sustainable businesses for income generation
- Works to improve water management, e.g. irrigation, or canal
- Natural resource management, e.g. Lake conservation to improve fish stocks
- Innovative agriculture or demonstrations, g. Piloting of short-term rice varieties
The project also addresses a lack of education support for children. Through tuition classes it provides a range of education support from literacy, to life skills and environmental education. After-school tuition classes are held five days per week for children identified as falling behind in formal education. This extra-curricular education builds knowledge on: the environment, WASH, life-skills, child rights, and gender as well improve reading, writing and numeracy.