November 2013, Kampong Thom, Cambodia - IUCN Cambodia, through its Mekong Water Dialogues project, conducted a Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment in order to understand the climate and non-climate change factors affecting livelihoods in local communities, natural resources, ecosystems, land use and infrastructure at the Boeung Chhmar Ramsar Site, Kampong Thom Province.
The assessment was firstly conducted at Daun Sdeung village of Peam Bang commune and engaged more than twenty people. It was co-facilitated by IUCN Cambodia team, local rangers, community council and community fisheries.
Natural resources are known as critically important for local community’s livelihood in Boeung Chhmar Ramsar Site, with over 97% of people's livelihoods dependent upon fisheries. According to a recent assessment, climate change factors are likely leading to natural resources and ecosystems degradation. The five main climate factors appearing to be of community concern are severe storms, higher temperatures in the dry season, irregular rainy seasons, poor water quality and changes in water quantity. The group discussion reported that they had experiencedlonger dry seasons from year to year, temperature rises and changing water levels caused by both less water and hotter temperatures. This phenomenon tends place natural resources and ecosystem under threat and impacts on communities long-term livelihoods. In addition, natural disaster such as storms happened quite often. In 2012, a historical record was broken when more than 30 tons of fish died, including two Mekong Giant Barbs, critically endangered species on the IUCN Red List.
There are also non-climate factors that put pressure on natural resources and local livelihoods. The issues include more people fishing, forest fires, illegal fishing with high technology fishing gear and a lack of fish markets. Consequently, the community has experienced great declines of fisheries resources.
Once the natural resources renewal rate is lower than its extraction rate, as the number of dependents on the fisheries productivity increases, community livelihoods will be severely affected.
The Mekong Water Dialogues Strategy for 2014 will strengthen community's capacity to manage their natural resource sustainably, raise their conservation awareness and support rangers to conduct biodiversity monitoring. In addition, the strategy will empower women to participate in livelihood improvement activities and natural resources conservation, particularly towards updating the management plan of the Boueng Chhmar Ramsar Site through integration of biodiversity conservation, livelihoods development and other cross-cutting issues such as climate change adaptation, gender and human rights in the use of natural resources.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Kimsreng Kong, Senior Programmes Officer
Mr. Pheakdey Sorn , Water and Wetlands Coordinator
Ms. Chenda Say, Communication Officer