Initiatives to solve environmental problems using the new concept of
Permaculture are proving successful in Cambodia.
Permaculture is both a
philosophy and a practical approach to land use in response to soil, water and
air pollution, loss of species, reduction of non-renewable resources and
destructive economic policies.
It aims to design sustainable human
settlements and weaves together micro climate, plants, animals, soils, water
management and human needs into integrated productive
Australian Catholic Relief (ACR) have already put a first
batch of students through an international Permaculture design
Takeo province workers Trudi and John Muir invited Australian
Rosemary Morrow to come and teach the eighteen women and men.
is using Permaculture as a medium for community development since "it builds
self-reliance, uses local resources, encourages cooperation and can be applied
to any piece of land."
The course was held at the ACR farm center and
attended by farmers, school teachers and community workers.
excursions to nearby villages and farms. Videos were shown in the local video
shop, attended by anyone interested.
The main tasks for the course
participants were to design or redesign their own piece of land and to design a
larger piece of land - in this case the local school grounds.
addition, students had to demonstrate an understanding of soil, water, and
biological conservation whilst achieving food self-sufficiency leading to high
yields and increases in income.
"The results were challenging as each
day, in the second week, more people came to attend the class. Participants had
built gardens and experimented with new design principles," said a spokesperson
"(They became) more impressed with the relevance of Permaculture
to simultaneously solving problems of hunger and malnutrition whilst
rehabilitating the environment from water pollution and soil
The school venture saw the school gardens and fishponds
supplying food for children, models for the villagers and income for the
The school environment is set to be improved by shade,
settlement of dust and some micro climate modification from the
The ACR center has also been transformed and has gone from being
"a place of bare compacted earth, wind blown and low in biological resources, to
an oasis with chinampas, rainwater tanks, fruit trees, herbs, canals, fish-duck
aqua culture, shade and windbreaks," said the spokesperson. " In only six months
the transformation is amazing."
Other Permaculture initiatives have been
taken by the Women's Association of Cambodia who requested a course in Pursat
Funded by the Quaker Service of Australia and AIDAB the course
is running as part of the UNICEF family food production program.
Australian Embassy has funded a one month course at the Jesuit Refugee Service
The 30 attendees were Cambodian employees from expatriate and Khmer
NGOs. A draft Permaculture manual in Khmer will be a result of this
Other results will be more Permaculture gardens designed for and
tested for sustainability in Cambodia and people competent to teach Permaculture
courses in Khmer.
The ACR spokesperson said: "Permaculture is spreading
fast throughout the world and is everywhere in great demand."
Cambodia, it appears to be fitting easily into existing organizations and
complements present practice and knowledge."