Almost a fifth of Cambodia’s population live below the poverty line, with the majority of whom are ethnic minorities and those living in rural areas. Extreme weather has made flooding and drought regular events, impacting livelihoods like agriculture, forestry and fishing. Democracy and human rights are also an issue, as are illegal fishing and logging which have depleted natural resources. Farmers struggle in the face of land-grabbing and deforestation by businesses. Cambodia was hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting the country’s economic growth and reversing some of the progress made in recent years.
We’ve been working in Cambodia for over three decades, helping vulnerable communities to stand up for their rights, protect their rivers, forests and land, and adapt the way they farm and fish to better cope with climate change. We’re helping to promote the role and voice of women and indigenous groups in society, and support our partners to advocate for the rights of the poorest in society.
Focus of our work
- Natural resource management: Supporting Indigenous communities to manage and protect their land
- Food security: Ensuring people have access to nutritious food all year round
- Livelihoods: Ensuring families can increase and diversify their income, providing for immediate needs and allowing them to save for the future
- Equality: The role and voice of marginalised groups, including indigenous groups, women and young people, is strengthened and promoted within the community
- Local advocacy: Local partners are supported to campaign and press the government on vital issues like land rights, managing natural resources and climate adaptation
- Disaster risk reduction: Helping communities to prepare for and cope with disasters, minimising the risk to lives and livelihoods.
A snapshot of our work in Cambodia
In the early years our work focused on supporting rural communities through access to water and healthcare, including helping the country deal with the millions of landmines laid in the 1980s during a brutal period of conflict.
By 2007 SCIAF was supporting six national organisations, focusing on food security projects with smallholder farmers, youth skills development, and national advocacy focused on land rights.
With funding from the Big Lottery, we began a three-year project to reduce poverty in indigenous communities, providing tools and training to help over 8,500 people to protect their land, grow more food and improve their access to water.
Our UK Aid Match Lent campaign focused on poverty and land rights in Cambodia, raising more than £3.1m, including £1.5m of match funding from the UK government.
With our partner DPA our three-year UKAM project began, transforming lives in some of the poorest parts of rural Cambodia. Working directly with over 8,500 people, over the lifetime of the project, the lives of almost 47,000 people were transformed.
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit Cambodia, we provided PPE and handwashing equipment, conducted awareness raising sessions and delivered emergency food supplies for the poorest and most vulnerable families, benefitting over 10,800 people.
Our programmes with our partners DPA and Caritas Cambodia are continuing to focus on protecting natural resources, improving income, and increasing food security and access to water.
Lorn & Sat's story
Before 2018, the impact of increased flooding, and then droughts, had destroyed Lorn and Sat’s livelihood – 90% of their rice crop was gone. The family didn’t have enough to eat and often went hungry. Their family’s health suffered and they got sick, but they couldn’t afford to buy medicines. Life was extremely difficult.
Today, thanks to specialist training on how to grow crops in extreme weather, Lorn and Sat harvest more rice and vegetables, and even some fruit. They have enough to eat, and sell the rest. They also raise chickens, pigs and cows to sell and earn a profit.
“Before, our family did not have enough to eat. But, after receiving training from SCIAF and DPA, we are not only able to feed ourselves, but can sell the rest and make a profit.”