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Osmose

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HOW TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT WHILE REDUCING POVERTY?

An Osmose-led demonstration is ongoing at Prek Toal

title= Floating gardens
In 2002, during the family surveys in the floating village, the observation of a local practice to build gardens on bamboo rafts inspired our first development intervention using the profits from the ecotourism visits. Thus 14 volunteer women received the initial material (bamboo, bags, 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, 48 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.

title= 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 or Sante 5 Continents 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.

title= 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 Angkor supports schooling of children in the villages. Ten children from Prek Toal benefit since 2003 and 25 other children in three surrounding villages between 2006 and 2009. The support includes all the school costs: uniforms, supplies, teachers’ fees, 20 kg of rice per month and the boat transportation to school.

title= Water Filters
Illnesses linked to bad drinking water (such as dysentery, diarrhea, fevers) are common on the lake, especially in the dry season. To address this problem, in 2004 Osmose distributed ceramic water filters to 35 families, 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 it. This aid illustrates Osmose’s double approach linking human development with environmental betterment: 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 showing good results, 46 more filters were distributed in a second phase in 2008. In the end of 2009, the association HAMAP Santé made another 300 water filters available for sale at reduced price, creating a micro-credit fund for the villagers.

title= 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 with aide from Terre des Hommes (Belgium), Femmes d’Europe and Le Bazar International (Luxembourg), 27 more houses were built with participation from the beneficiaries in the three villages covered by the project.

title= Community tourism
In 2004, the Belgian Technical Cooperation financed 20 simple canoe boats for Prek Toal families wishing to offer a boating service. They chose the local style wooden boat with adaptations for comfort and stability for visitors. The boatmen (mostly former poachers) can thus complement their fishing revenue by bringing visitors into the reserve, and around the village. In 2007, this approach was replicated in the village of Peck Kantiel for 10 families, along with a local restaurant and a family homestay option thanks to financial support from UNDP. Homestay and restaurant services are also now available in Prek Toal since 2009. These diverse community tourism activities now generate complementary revenues for more than 50 families.