Government Planners Upskill to Help Farmers Fight Climate Change

Heng Hong grew up in a rice farming family in the shadow of Santuk Mountain, one of Kampong Thom province’s most sacred sites. There, as in much of Cambodia, a major shift in seasons is one of the most obvious signs of climate change.

“We used to have a 6-month dry season and a 6-month wet season, but in recent years the dry season has been 8-months long,” he says.

These days Mr. Hong is based in Phnom Penh and his sister runs the family rice farm, but he remains closely engaged with rural life through his role as Deputy Director for the Department of Community Livelihoods, under the Ministry of Environment.

Mr. Hong was one of 15 government planners from Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam recently trained to work with communities to assess their vulnerability to climate change and to help find adaptation options.

Three workshops ­– funded by the GMS Core Environment Program and delivered by the Southeast Asia START Regional Center ­–  were held in Bangkok between August 2016 and February 2017. The participants learned to undertake situational analyses, risk profiling, future visioning, and how to identify and implement adaptation solutions. In between the workshops, the participants were encouraged to test their learning in the field.

Mr. Hong conducted his field work in Chikhaleu commune, located in Dong Peng Protected Area in Koh Kong province in the southwest of the country. Designated as one of Cambodia’s three ‘multiple use’ protected areas, communities within Dong Penh’s 27,000 hectares can sustainably use natural resources to support their livelihoods.

But times are getting tougher for many of its farming residents. Land conflicts have emerged recently as commercial sugar plantations take root and spread. Meanwhile, farmers with more secure tenure face a changing climate that means eking out a living from the land is becoming more and more challenging.

“Twenty years ago they grew rice twice a year as they could crop in the dry season, but now they can only grow in the wet season. There is a lack of water for agriculture, livestock, and also for sanitation,” Mr. Hong says.

He points out that farmers can no longer rely only on the’ know-how’ passed down by previous generations. Instead they need to learn technical solutions to adapt to the changing climate.

“Adaptation planning is very important for these farmers. They depend on natural resources to farm rice, raise livestock, and to gather non-timber forest products. If they don’t adapt to climate change it will destroy their livelihoods.”

Mr. Hong believes the CEP training will better enable him to work with communities to find solutions. While he had learned some adaptation concepts before, he described the training as “deep and detailed” and that it introduced valuable analytical tools and approaches.

One of his biggest takeaways was the need to consider future change scenarios and to plan for these rather than just think about the current situation.

Depending on funding opportunities in the future, Hong would like to conduct a full assessment with Chikhaleu and other communes in the area.

Learn more about the training program here.

Publish Date: 24th February 2017

Last Updated: 24th February 2017

See also

Consultation Workshop on GMS Climate Change and Environment Sustainability Program (CCESP)

1 to 2 April 2019

Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Climate Change and Environment Sustainability Program (CCESP): The proposed knowledge and support technical assistance (TA) on CCESP will build on the key achievements of two phases of the Core Environment Program and support the implementation of the GMS Core Environment Program Strategic Framework and Action Plan 2018-2022, which was endorsed at the Fifth GMS Environment Ministers’ Meeting held in 2018. The CCESP will focus on creating enabling conditions to leverage additional investment in priority areas such as (i) green technologies and sustainable infrastructure; (ii) natural resources and ecosystem services; and (iii) green growth, climate resilience and disaster risk management.

More details

GMS Working Group on Environment 24th Annual Meeting

1st April 2019

The 24th Annual Meeting of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Working Group (WG) on Environment reviewed the achievements of the GMS Core Environment Program Phase II and discussed the way forward. WGE AM-24 was hosted by the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) with support from ADB through the GMS Environment Operations Center.


The WGE AM-24 was followed by thematic discussions that covered the proposed new programs entitled: "GMS Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Program (CCESP)" and "GMS Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security Program (SAFSP)" which are aligned with three out of seven operational priorities of Strategy 2030 approved by the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board in 2018.


The CCESP will focus on ADB Strategy 2030’s operational priority: tackling climate change, building climate and disaster resilience, and enhancing environmental sustainability, while SAFSP will focus on ADB Strategy 2030’s operational priority: promoting rural development and food security. Both programs will support ADB Strategy 2030’s operational priority: fostering regional cooperation and integration.


More details
Back to Online Library