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Transforming communities in Cambodia

38-year-old Ry Nean lives in a forestland village in Cambodia, with his wife and four children. His village has a population of only 565 people, most of whom are farmers. With challenges in growing enough food to eat and to earn a living, the population of the village has decreased in recent years, as devastating poverty has forced people move to the city to find work.

Yet, things are beginning to change for the villagers, thanks to a project run by SCIAF’s local partner DPA. The project is working to help 19,000 indigenous and vulnerable people in rural north eastern Cambodia to grow food that is resistant to the impacts of climate change, and to improve their income. Because of you, and with support from the UK Government’s Aid Match Programme, Ry Nean has received training on topics like farming, hygiene and sanitation, and gender equality, and has begun to see his own life, and the life of his community, transformed.

In addition to learning new farming techniques and growing more food, perhaps the biggest change for Ry Nean has been his approach to gender equality. DPA have conducted training sessions on topics like gender and sex, gender stereotypes, roles and responsibilities, and equality. The sessions also look at conflict management skills, and identify key community members to collect data on domestic violence and families requiring support and intervention. This year an event was held for the district to celebrate International Women’s Day, and focused on the importance of girl’s education and peaceful communities.

Ry Nean’s wife explained the impact the training has had on her husband,

 “Since coming back from joining the International Women’s Day event, he has changed his behaviour. Besides farming work, he now helps to do housework chores, helps me to cook, breaks up the firewood and washes dishes and clothes. My husband is now a good man.

“Further, he has actively participated in managing, preparing and directing work in the family. In the past, he was not interested in livelihood work to gain more income for family. But now he has acquired much knowledge, experience and skills to increase our income through farming.”

Additionally, Ry Nean is now a community leader, as head of the village Environment and Sanitation Committee. In his role, he provides training to other villagers on climate change, women’s rights, hygiene and sanitation, and sustainable methods of growing food within his community. He wants to use what he’s learned to help change the attitudes and behaviour of others in the village,

“In the past, I didn’t like to participate in acitivities in the village. But now I now teach other villagers about the importance of gender equality and crop cultivation. It has really improved our livelihoods. I’ve not only seen benefits for me personally, but also for others in the community. I want to make sure the impact is felt not only by the community today, but also for the next generation.

“I am so thankful to DPA, to the UK government and the Scottish people who have donated funds to support us."

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