People protecting their ecosystem in the Lower Mekong

Page 1

1


Passionate about protecting the Mekong and its natural resources, Srey Pheak took on the opportunity to volunteer with Oxfam’s partner Northeastern Rural Development (NRD). NRD trained Pheak in core leadership skills including communication, teamwork and community management. Empowered by the skills he learned, Pheak was elected as a Community Fishery Leader.

SREY PHEAK Community Fishery Leader

His strong leadership and transparency with fellow villagers

KRATIE, CAMBODIA

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

led to illegal fishing being eliminated within his village — something he notes as his proudest achievement to date. Inspired by his model, three other villages in the commune have now established community fisheries aimed at empowering communities to safeguard their fish stocks. Going forward, Srey wants to motivate the community to talk more freely about the challenges the fishery faces and how they can rally further support from NGOs.

2


KRATIE, CAMBODIA

CFi patrol teams, provided with technical and financial support by Oxfam and partner NRD, protect 14 deep pool habitats which are an important nursery habitat for a plethora of fish species that sustain local communities both locally and downstream.

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

At 48km in length, Rongeav island in Kratie Province is the largest island on the Cambodian Mekong. It supports a population of more than 10,000 people and four Community Fisheries (CFis), supported by Oxfam’s partner Northeastern Rural Development (NRD). Active

3


A woman sells fish caught in the Mekong river at a fish market in Samboh district in Kratie province, one of the target areas of the PEM III project.

KRATIE, CAMBODIA

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

4


KRATIE, CAMBODIA

A Community Fisheries patrol team from Rogeav Island out on patrol.

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

5


Chin Sokunthor, 66, always had the desire to get involved in work which would benefit the community, but there was neither the capacity or opportunity in Achen — her small village on the banks of the Mekong. The PEM project provided the platform for Chin to do the work she really wanted to do. Now a Leader of a Savings for Change group, she is passionate about providing members of the community with the opportunity to receive a loan and set up their own businesses. Through a loan she took out herself she runs two businesses: one selling equipment to clean motorbikes that brings in around $120 a month and the other operating a machine to pump herbicide. Through lending the herbicide pump at no cost to around 30 neighbouring families, Chin wants to use her loan to provide members of the community with opportunities that at one stage she also didn’t have.

We’ve got to serve the communities, not rely on the communities. We’ve got to protect the natural resources not only for the current generation, but also for the next generation.

KRATIE, CAMBODIA

Leader of a Savings for Change group

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

CHIN SOKUNTHOR

6


KRATIE, CAMBODIA

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

Early morning fishing on the Mekong. An estimated 60 million people across the region rely on the river to sustain their livelihood.

7


Chan Sar, 36, comes from Samphen, a small village on the Mekong river in Kratie Province. From a poor family and without a father from age 2, training from Oxfam’s partner Northeast Rural Development (NRD) gave him the platform to learn System of Rice Intensification (SRI) techniques, leadership skills and the importance of protecting the villages’ fisheries. Despite his young age, the skills and confidence Sar gained from the PEM project led him to be elected for the first commune council.

CHAN SAR 1st Commune Council

Leveraging support from the council and passionate about protecting the natural resources of the Mekong, Sar influences members of the community to get involved with fish conservation. He is a well-known role model amongst the youth in his community and through the training he has received from NRD, he also trains other youth in the village on SRI techniques.

PEM III

KRATIE, CAMBODIA

Photo credit: Andy Ball

As now the youngest member of the commune council, the elders motivate me and inspire me to keep working in conservation.

8


Sow Soundary recalls the moment when illegal fishers threatened her life for attempting to deter them from fishing on a protected lake in her community. Despite the traumatic experience, it still hasn’t deterred her from continuing her work. Sow was never involved in any community work until an opportunity arose with Oxfam’s partner Northeastern Rural Development (NRD) to join the Community Fisheries committee where she learned new skills in leadership. After being inspired by other women she saw working at the commune level, she successfully ran for a position on the 1st commune council.

KRATIE, CAMBODIA

1st Commune Council

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

SOW SOUNDARY

As a member of the council, she has worked to improve gender equality, including addressing domestic violence within the community. Recently, she has been fighting a battle to protect “Boeng Preksen”, a lake that supports 110 families in her commune. Despite threats from illegal fishermen, she ensure Community Fisheries patrols uphold the laws and regulations in their quest to protect the lake. As a result of her work, and that of others in the community, illegal fishing is now seldom seen.

9


KRATIE, CAMBODIA

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

An aerial view of the lake that Sow Soundary has worked so hard to protect. In the wet season, the lake directly connects to the Mekong, supplying it with fish larvae and nutrients which support the surrounding communities.

10


Jobless and looking for a means to support his family, Meas Ye once relied on the illegal electric fishing gear for his daily catch. A public forum conducted by Oxfam partner Northeastern Rural Development (NRD) provided villagers the opportunity to report illegal fishermen in the community with the promise of full confidentiality. In cooperation with local authorities. Meas and 13 other report illegal fishermen were given an ultimatum: continue fishing and risk legal action, or attend an educational workshop on the impacts of illegal fishing.

KRATIE, CAMBODIA

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

Ashamed of his past actions and wanting to give back to the community, Meas attended the workshop and signed an agreement to stop illegally fishing. As a notorious boss amongst the illegal fishing community, many other illegal fishermen in the community agreed to follow Meas’ lead. Now a Community Fisheries member and farmer, Meas is proud to be a part of conservation efforts to protect his local fishing grounds and, with training from NRD, is now receiving training on System of Rice Intensification (SRI) techniques to supplement his income.

11


KRATIE, CAMBODIA

Illegal electrical fishing gear confiscated by a Community Fisheries patrol team.

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

12


KRATIE, CAMBODIA

Kel Dom, Houn Sieb and Srey Pheak out on patrol. The team relies on a network of local fishermen as a source of information of illegal fishing activity in the area.

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

13


KEL DOM

HOUN SIEB

Community Fishery Patrol Team

Community Fishery

Kel Dom (left) and Houn Sieb (right), both members of the Samphen village Community Fisheries patrol team in Kratie Province, stand for a portrait with confiscated illegal electrical fishing gear. Oxfam’s partner NRD has supported the patrol team by supplying a boat and other equipment, as well as given them access to technical support and opportunities to visit Community Fisheries in other provinces.

KRATIE, CAMBODIA

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

As a result, illegal fishing nets haven’t been sighted in the community since 2017. Recently, the community has started to develop close working relationships with nearby Community Fisheries as part of efforts to collectively strengthen their law enforcement efforts against illegal fishing. When called on by other communities, Dom and Sieb will travel as far as 40km upstream with the rest of Samphen village’s patrol team to help crackdown on illegal fishing activity.

14


The Srekpok river, one of the major tributaries in the 3S river basin that feeds the iconic Mekong. Oxfam’s partner Save Cambodia’s Wildlife (SCW) is working with 14 Community Fisheries (CFis) along the Srepok and Sesan Rivers, many of which identify as KhmerLao ethnicity, in Ratanakiri Province, northeastern Cambodia. Ratanakiri was once home to the headquarters of the Khmer Rouge and suffered from heavy bombardment and violent conflict during the 20th century. Vivid memories of the war are still recalled by elders of some of the villages. The Srepok’s Khmer-Lao communities rely almost entirely on its fisheries to support their livelihoods. The CFis work to protect a plethora of different habitats, including deep pools and flooded forests that are nursery and refuge habitats for numerous fish species, as well as dense forests that line the river’s banks and islands.

RATANAKIRI, CAMBODIA

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

15


A combined 30 individuals took part in cracking down on the boat, resulting in the confiscation of 5 illegal nets and 1 illegal fishing gear. The two communities now work hand in hand to protect their common natural resources, and recently erected demarcation posts together to ensure communities know the boundaries of the protected zone. Oxfam’s partner SCW provides the common platform for different CFi’s like Pann and Bunthev’s communities to work together, uniting them to protect their natural resources.

Sem Pann (left) identifies as Khmer and Na Bunthev (right) as Khmer-Lao but they are united by a common goal: to protect the fisheries both of their communities rely on. Both leaders of CFis that neighbour one another, the two separate communes just 10km apart both protect a combined 6 deep pool habitats. After an illegal fishing boat too large for Bunhev’s CFi patrol to tackle was seen in their patrol area, he called on Pann’s patrol team and local authorities to help.

PEM III

RATANAKIRI, CAMBODIA

SEM PANN Leader of a Community Fishery

NA BUNTHEV Leader of a Community Fishery

We must protect our fisheries to protect the breeding fish.

Photo credit: Andy Ball

My leadership centres around organising and planning the patrol, building relationships with stakeholders, reviewing stakeholder reports, and assessing the fish stocks.

16


RATANAKIRI, CAMBODIA

once provided a refuge during a disease outbreak across the Srepok’s villages over a century ago. To escape the sickness, those that were healthy quarantined on the island to separate themselves. SCW provides technical and financial support to the Serey Monkul CFi that patrols the deep pool and flooded forests nearby the island against illegal fishing. Realising the importance of guaranteeing the protection of the island and its forests, the community now has plans to develop ecotourism on the island.

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

Sampov Island on the Srepok river is home to some of the area’s last pristine forests, surrounded on all sides by forests devastated by Economic Land Concessions (ELCs) that allow the development of industrial-scale agriculture. The local communities have ensured the protection of the island because of its cultural significance to the Khmer-Lao ethnic communities that Oxfam’s partner SCW works with. As told by an elder, the people believe that the forest has a soul, and that anyone who destroys it risks sickness or even death. The island also

17


THANN KOURNY 2nd Commune Council

Forums organised by commune councils, such as by Thann Kourny of Serey Monkul commune provide villages with a platform to raise issues related to various sectors, such as agriculture and land registration. In Thann’s commune, fisheries conservation has long been a priority. However, without a strong knowledge of fisheries conservation, raising it in forums was always a challenge. Oxfam’s partner SCW provides technical support to commune councils, including Serey Monkul, that enrich the discussion and allow members of the village to understand fisheries conservation more clearly.

RATANAKIRI, CAMBODIA

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

Without the participation of SCW, the Community Council only share information. We don’t have in-depth knowledge of the sector.”

18


Facilitated by SCW, the forums have brought the commune councils and CFis closer. The CFi at Serey Monkul regularly reports to the commune council when they don’t have budget to patrol., The commune council provides additional finance to ensure that they can continue patrolling their area. Recently, the commune council provided $500 to build an outpost to guard against illegal fishing in the deep pool area.

RATANAKIRI, CAMBODIA

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

19


RATANAKIRI, CAMBODIA

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

Villagers, along with local authorities, the CFi, and NGOs release fish into Chress lake, one of the four protected lakes in Serey Mongkul, at a ceremony. Previously under the protection of two local villagers, the ceremony also marked the start of the CFi’s involvement in aiding them to enforce against illegal fishing at the lake. Oxfam’s partner SCW works with CFis to bring together multiple stakeholders who can work together under a common goal for the benefit of protecting fisheries.

20


RATANAKIRI, CAMBODIA

Chress lake where the fish were released as part of enriching fish stocks in natural habitats.

Photo credit: Andy Ball

PEM III

21


Like many, Thi Van Anh’s livelihood was destroyed by the development of the Srepok 3 hydropower dam. The creation of the reservoir as part of the dam’s development flooded communities upstream, displacing many in Ea Nuol commune, including Van Anh. With little choice, she turned to coffee and pepper farming for her income but, like many in her commune, she lacked knowledge on farming techniques and the capacity to access the marketplace. Oxfam’s partner Centre for Social Research and Development (CSRD) established the Clean Pepper and Coffee group, bringing together 17 households growing pepper and coffee in the commune. Now working together, they have a greater capacity to access the market and they have also received training courses in sustainable farming techniques. Members of the group, many who are female, now even meet monthly to see each others gardens and exchange advice.

Nong Thi Van Anh Vice Chairperson of Tan Phat Group of Clean Agricultural Products.

DAK LAK,VIETNAM

Photo credit: CSRD

PEM III

“The position and role of women in the family and production activities has been enhanced...I feel that I have a lot of knowledge and confidently speak out my own thoughts and voices.”

22


The reservoir from the construction of the Srepok 3 hydropower dam, that displaced many of the surrounding communities, is now being used by an ambitious group to their advantage. Through additional financial support from Oxfam’s partner CRSD, the 15-strong predominantly female Tan Phu fisheries group was formed. The group made an agreement with the hydro dam company to use 360 square metres of the reservoir to set up a fish farm. CRSD has provided the group with training in aquaculture techniques, disease treatment and cage sanitation. The group are reaping the economic benefits of the farm and are now working to scale it up, alongside building a communitybased ecotourism project.

Doan Van Phuc Member of Tan Phu Fisheries Group

DAK LAK,VIETNAM

Photo credit: CSRD

PEM III

“I and our group members are still actively looking for investment sources from the Government and businesses to be able to exploit the local potential. In addition, we always encourage the participation of other households to reduce the illegal and destructive fishing gears on the Serepok River”

23


Tran Van Toan Director of Phu Nong Cooperative

Communities displaced by the development of the Srepok 3 hydropower dam were compensated by being relocated to a new area. However, the conditions of the new resettlement area significantly impacted their livelihoods: nearby streams and rivers were polluted; cultivation was difficult; and drinking water was less accessible. Tran Van Toan, 39, was one of many who were affected by the Srepok 3 hydropower dam. By bringing together pre-existing groups working in agriculture, fish farming and eco-tourism he created the Phu Nong - Buon Don Agriculture and Tourism Cooperative. The co-operative has now grown to 40 members and is recognised by the Government, giving them enhanced market access and more power to control the price of their products.

“When participating in the CSRD project, I’ve learned a lot of knowledge that is very valuable. The enthusiastic support and motivation from CSRD are always the driving force for me and other members to try harder on the path of sustainable agricultural development and tourism to try to use resources efficiently and protect the environment”.

DAK LAK,VIETNAM

Photo credit: CSRD

PEM III

24


THANK YOU Funding for the People Protecting their Ecosystem in the Lower Mekong III project was provided by Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.

Photo credit: Andy Ball

25