The Tonle Sap Lake is of great cultural and environmental importance to the Cambodian people. It is home to over 200 species of fish and is essential for providing 60% of the population’s protein intake. However, the lake is under threat due to illegal fishing, environmental mismanagement and climate change.
Tonle Sap Lake supports the livelihoods of at least two million people, including many local fishers. In the floating village of Kampong Phluk, 65% of people rely solely on fishing for their income but can earn as little as $3.75 a day.
Ms. Pok Sambath, first deputy of the commune council in the Kampong Phluk floating village, said, ‘This is not enough but there is no choice. Fishing is the main income source, but the fish are decreasing because of climate change and illegal fishing.’
Communities like Kampong Phluk are changing their situation by learning how to advocate for their needs to improve their income and protect the lake. With support from Live & Learn Cambodia’s Our Tonle Sap project, over 90 community fishery members have been involved in workshops and received technical support from project staff.
The workshops have included lessons on how to create a community action plan, budgeting, planning community activities, awareness raising, applying for local funding, communications training, and more. One of the key outcomes for project participants has been the opportunity to learn from each other and build connections with other community fishery members.
Mr. Sok Yon, deputy leader of the community-based organisation committee and project beneficiary, commented, ‘We appreciate the project approach to engage the community to design their own action plan. We can discuss among other community members what we want to do and do it ourselves. All the ideas in the action plan come from the community and local authority.’
‘These are good opportunities and lessons for us to use to communicate with each other. We need the people to join the action to protect the fishery protected area – where the fish can live and grow in number. This is good for us because it helps us increase our income generation.’
The Our Tonle Sap project is supported by funding from the European Union and will benefit 42 communities in Siem Reap Province.