Along the Mekong: What One Village Is Doing About Climate Change
It came as a surprise to me when I learned that Cambodia is consistently ranked among the top ten countries that are vulnerable to climate change.
Only moments before learning this fact, I had also learned that natural patterns in the weather – a dry season followed by a wet season – were starting to become less “natural”. The dry season has become more extreme or suddenly interrupted by rain. It seemed like the different people I met, heads nodded in unison agreeing that climate was changing and not for the better.
With all of this in mind, I was fascinated to learn what was being implemented in communities to address and take action to adapt to climate change.
The local coordinator from Community Rural Development Team (CRDT) and I took a car then a boat, arriving at our destination two hours after our leaving the town. When we arrived on the sandy shores of what appeared to be a small island.
Sun, Water, Home
On the small island of 36 households (these villages are counted by the number of homes (and the families dwelling inside the house rather than counting each individual), I immediately noticed a floating device with a long bright blue pipe coming out of the side. I also heard a small hum of a generator.
When I asked what this was about, I learned that it was a device that uses solar to pump water to a tank reserve, which then pumps water to individual households.
After seeing the pump and water storage tank, it felt like a full circle to see the pipe and tap in someone’s home. I asked the owner of the home how she felt that now that she has running water in her house. She said to me, “I am grateful. I do not need to go to the river and carry water. It makes it easier when I cook.”
Self Help Group
I visited a small meeting, of mostly women, who were part of a Self Helf Group that mainly focused on saving money collectively and then giving loans to the members of the group.
In a small island of 36 households, the people come together to pool a “bank” of money. This money is given to those who request a loan to improve agriculture, buy new tools, or personal reasons. From the short dialogues I had during this meeting, I felt that the community had a high sense of responsibility.
Proper paperwork was completed and although exchanges of money happened publicly and openly in the meeting, I think that also reinsures the trust the people have for each other.
When I asked why there were mostly women at the meeting, they told me that the men are working or fishing, or sometimes just at home. The women are busy too, often with their tasks to maintain the household, but despite their already busy lives, the women still believe it’s worthwhile to gather and discuss these challenges together.
The Model Farm is a place where many farmers can gather together and share their knowledge. It is their hope that in the future they can learn from the challenges and one day provide training for others who want to be a part of the Model Farm or take their new skills back to their own farm.
When I spoke to him he said this, “Can you take a picture of me and my vegetables? This year we were unlucky because small bugs ate all our vegetables. We don’t use any chemicals because we want healthy vegetables. Sometimes the buyers are not happy because our produce is not nice looking. I like the community farm, I hope I can sell more healthy vegetables at the market.”
Now to address the bugs, nets have been used to shield any unwanted critters. Small solutions are being brought to light as challenges arise.
Climate change doesn’t have one solution! What I saw was many small examples of how a small village is coping with the changes realities in the climate. I was grateful to understand and learn more about rural development and improved livelihood is a way that was mindful of energy, people, and the environment.
What are small or big solutions that address climate change in your communities?