Illegal deforestation has caused soil erosion, floods, drought, storms and loss of habitat. Forestry and fishery policies including guidelines for sustainable management are in place, however, these are poorly applied and rarely enforced.
This in turn has a detrimental impact on agricultural production, upon which the people in Siem Reap are largely dependent. Limited irrigation systems and poorly maintained structures further exacerbate the situation.
People’s abilities to work and generate income are rebounding as the whole country recovers from the effects of the Khmer Rouge regime. There is a great need, especially in isolated rural areas, for improvement of people's general knowledge, skills, technical skills, and other abilities required for gainful labour.
There are still huge obstacles to developing human capital, because remote areas lack an adequate supply of skilled workers. As such, it is essential to survey and support community workers for the development of local skills and economic interests in the community.
Credit, saving services, wages, market services and income generation are large issues for developing community families. Low income and high expenditure cause an imbalance common in the poorest households. Generally, they cannot earn enough money because of their lack of skills and/or opportunities in income generating activities. The poorest families are afraid of borrowing from micro-finance institutions and money-lenders due to high interest rates, which are often extortionate.
CIVIL WAR destroyed Cambodia’s infrastructure between 1975 and 2000. Monasteries, hospitals, schools, banks, bridges, roads, and houses were all lost. Human resources were decimated.
Amidst this national crisis, Cambodians did not have the opportunity to participate in politics, and children could not attend school. As the war concluded, many Cambodians were left widowed, orphaned, uneducated, and living in impoverished conditions. Social capital, economic and political institutions were predominantly destroyed.
V U L N E R A B I L I T Y & I L L I T E R A C Y R E D U C T I O N
Siem Reap was one of the 25 provinces governed by the Khmer Rouge, and the effects of the war are still seen today. Entire communities struggle with extreme poverty. There is violence, injustice, and frequent conflict over land.
People have little understanding and awareness of their basic human rights and few opportunities to improve their economic condition. The people of Siem Reap are in need of opportunities to gain basic academic skills and an awareness of their rights. They need to know how to resolve conflicts and improve their economic conditions. This is where VIR comes in.
Civil war and its after-effects brought either destruction or poor management to irrigation systems, wells, shelters, buildings, schools, hospitals, health centers, rural electricity, and public roads that are essential for developing communities. Flooding has broken dams, and local communities lack the financial capital and human resources to repair them. In rural villages, there is a huge lack of water sources such as wells and ponds, which results in scarce access to safe water.
Moreover, many of the poorest families are living without toilets, leading to poor sanitation and hygiene. Access to basic health facilities for preventative and curative care, education, and training for capacity building is equally limited in the target areas, which results in impoverished and unhealthy communities.
Social networks and links to basic services are essential for rural development. In Cambodia, the gap between the rich and poor communities is a constant problem. After years of suffering from social disputes, households are living separately and are less prepared to help each other. There are, however, recent examples of communities mobilizing their resources and linking with commune councils for collaborative community development efforts – but the pace and amount of these efforts must increase.
Communities need to experience successful achievements from their efforts to mobilize their local resources. The poorest families need to be involved in these efforts – but usually, because there are no entry points for them into the process – they have not been involved and their confidence remains low. Vulnerable and elderly people are often overlooked. Moreover, there is little or no awareness among the people of their basic rights and how to exercise these rights for their fundamental needs, freedom of expression, freedom of decision-making and personal security in their target areas.
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