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> …WHILE DECREASING PRESSURE ON THE NATURAL RESOURCES.

A hundred poor families have benefited from tailor-made interventions to improve their livelihoods.

Thanks to income from Ecotourism Project, OSMOSE was able to implement a Local Development Project that fosters human empowerment and respect of the environment. After a socio-economic survey, OSMOSE has selected a hundred priority families (former poachers, poor families, single women head of households) heavily dependent upon natural resources for their daily subsistence. Each intervention has been preliminary assessed in terms of socio-economic benefits and ecological impact.
CHUL Vicheth
Local Development Manager
They directly or indirectly contribute to the reduction of the threats to the environment of the Tonle Sap, and at the same time the poverty of the families in the most difficult situations. The social aspects that compliment and strengthen these initiatives (medical and schooling support) reduce vulnerability and drive families out of a situation of poverty. The emergency material assistance (house, boat) and/or specific intervention aiming to generate supplementary income: employment as a local guide to the bird sanctuary (local ranger), floating gardens, paddle boat service, cooking, homestay or water hyacinth handicraft. For further information, please visit the Saray Tonle / CBET Page.

Floating gardens
In 2002, during the family surveys in the floating village, the observation of a local practice to build floating gardens on bamboo rafts inspired our first development intervention. Thus 14 volunteer women received the initial material (bamboo, bags, and wood) to build their own gardens and the starter seeds. Two more phases followed with support from the Fondation Yves Rocher (2003) and the Cooperation Technique Belge (2004).

Presently, 54 families have benefited from this project. The gardens can house up to 30 varieties of plants, from aromatic herbs to vegetables, and even certain fruit trees (like papaya and banana). They improve the food variety and make the family less dependent on the forest resources, sometimes even generating a little revenue from sales in the neighborhood.

Medical support
Medical costs for illnesses and accidents being the prime cause of poverty in Cambodia, OSMOSE found a way to offer medical assistance to the poorest villagers through partnership with other medical organizations. Since 2004, medical teams from the Angkor Hospital for Children, HAMAP and Mission Enfant 2000 come to the villages, offering many hundreds of consultations per year.

OSMOSE covers the cost of the medical transfer to a provincial hospital if needed, as well as support at home. The free access to a diagnosis and quality treatment reduces the chronic debt and vulnerability of poor families, sewing a social security net to avoid falling into deeper poverty.

Schooling
Without financial resources or materials (usually a boat for transport), poor families cannot send their children to school. A partnership with the association Sourire d’Angkor supports schooling of children in the villages. Ten children from Prek Toal benefited in 2003 and in 2006-2009, 25 more children, from three surrounding villages also joined. The support includes all the school costs:

uniforms, supplies, teachers’ fees, 20 kg of rice per month and the boat transportation to school.

Water Filters

Illnesses linked to bad drinking water (such as dysentery, diarrhea, and fevers) are common on the lake, especially in the dry season. To address this problem, OSMOSE distributed ceramic water filters to 35 families in 2004, along with training for their usage and maintenance. Access to drinkable water significantly reduces the dependence on firewood as the villagers no longer need to boil their own drinking water.
This aid illustrates OSMOSE’s double approach linking human development with environmental improvement. This simple action reduces a threat to the natural resources while improving the quality of life of the beneficiaries. Follow up on the initial families show good results. 46 more filters were distributed in a second phase in 2008.

Material assistance
In 2004, OSMOSE decided to use some of the profit from ecotourism to build decent houses for four families in critical situations. This material assistance – with a high cost for a small number of beneficiaries – is restricted to urgent cases, only for families surviving in conditions too precarious to benefit from more sustainable developmental interventions.

From 2007 to 2009, aid from Terre des Hommes (Belgium), Femmes d’ Europe and Le Bazar International (Luxembourg), built 27 more houses with participation from the beneficiaries.