Koh Kong Province, Cambodia - A 2,160-metre long, 4-metre wide and 1.5-metre deep channel is being dredged in Koh Kapik village. This process started in October 2013 and is expected to finish in December 2014, with financial support from the European Union through the IUCN-implemented project "Building Resilience to Climate Change Impacts in Coastal Southeast Asia" and also with a small contribution from the local community. Before this intervention, the local people faced numerous difficulties. These arose because the channel is very shallow (around 30 cm deep) especially in the rainy season due to excessive accumulation of sediment deposition, as a result of which boats cannot move easily at night during the dry season.
The channel dredging intervention will bring two main benefits to the people of Koh Kapik. Firstly, it will result in socio-economic benefits. It will enable the local community members to gain better access to health care, education and a fresh water supply. In addition, it will also improve livelihoods of local people, as they can go fishing every day without the struggle of boat navigation and they will spend less amounts of time and money on fuel. Besides this, it will improve the exchange of goods and services, such as bringing in rice and other basic commodities and getting goods out from the capture fisheries. Twenty-four hour access to this channel will help local people reduce their vulnerabilities to natural hazards such as storms, as they can use the channel to escape. Secondly, it will bring environmental benefits to community dwellers. The dredging will improve biodiversity resources by facilitating movements of some aquatic species and by improving the water quality. It will also help increase aquatic resources living in the mangrove forests.
During a group discussion held on 14 March 2012, community members of Koh Kapik agreed that they are highly affected by the channel which is becoming shallower and shallower. Access through the channel to schools, health care, goods and commodity exchange, and evasion from natural hazards such as storms is very difficult in its present state. This is why lives are at great risk. In response to these issues, the channel dredging is considered to be the highest priority intervention to improve local people's livelihoods and reduce their vulnerabilities to climate change.
Mrs Prak Hieng, Chief of the Koh Kapik Community Protected Area said, “I am much happier than I was before the dredging operation started. Having this channel dredged will provide the people in my village with a better living condition, as we are all suffering from the lack of freshwater. During the dry season, some poor families cry when the water level in the channel gets shallow, as the boats containing freshwater do not reach our village.”
Even though the channel dredging intervention offers large benefits to local people and the environment, it also impacts the biodiversity resources, especially the mangroves forests flanking the banks of the channel. Mr Kimsreng Kong, Senior Programme Officer at IUCN Cambodia stated, “Before starting the dredging operation, IUCN together with their stakeholders conducted a number of assessments. These included participatory zoning, a beach erosion study, and a cost-benefit analysis, as well as scoping accessible options for the fresh water supply in Koh Kapik village. It is estimated that less than one hectare of mangroves are affected by the dredging operation. However, the dredging activity will overall improve ecosystem services for climate change resilience or adaptation”. In addition, local people are committed to replanting the mangrove forest in affected sections so as to improve the normal functioning of biodiversity in that area. The benefits do outweigh the costs, and this will also create a social safety net for local people living in this area by improving their livelihoods.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Kimsreng Kong, Senior Programme Officer
Mr. Kong Sun, Field Coordinator
Ms. Chenda Say, Communication Officer