A delegation from the EU and Cambodian authorities visited the Tonle Sap Lake on September 20-21 to examine several projects related to education, conservation and the livelihood development of local communities.

The projects are being supported through the EU-funded Cambodia Programme for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth in the Fisheries Sector (CAPFISH), and implemented by OXFAM Cambodia, Save the Children Cambodia and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Cambodia.

“EU CAPFISH remains committed to working with the agriculture ministry and civil society partners to support the sustainable development of fisheries and environmental conservation in Cambodia,” said Koen Everaert, deputy head of EU cooperation in the Kingdom.

CAPFISH supports fishery communities in 10 provinces, including six on the Tonle Sap Lake and four along the Kingdom’s southern coast.

According to a September 26 press release from OXFAM Cambodia, the delegation visited the Tonle Sap Lake Biosphere Reserve to learn about programmes that help the communities. A meeting was held with students from local kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, along with members of the administrations of Thnal Chheuteal village and Prek Toal Ramsar site, an important part of the reserve.

Khun Savoeun, secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, also attended the tour.

“I was very pleased to see the positive results of the EU-funded Tonle Sap projects implemented by OXFAM, Save the Children and WCS,” he said.

OXFAM, with a $4.2 million funding from the EU, is implementing a four-year (2021-24) project which aims to support fishery communities in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Siem Reap provinces by improving the clean water supply, education, sanitation and waste management services, as well as community-based natural resource management.

OXFAM country director Phean Sophoan explained that through the CAPFISH project, 14 green economic groups had been formed to establish a Tonle Sap ecotourism network that benefits 1,739 households, helping fishery communities increase their incomes.

WCS Cambodia is spending $5.2 million of EU funding to restore key habitats and implement policies aimed at reducing the causes of environmental change.

WCS country director Alistair Mould said the “Our Tonle Sap” project has reduced illegal fishing and increased community participation in patrolling the lake. Through the use of conservation technologies such as specialised software for patrolling and reporting illegal information, they have helped reduce illegal fishing in the five provinces around the lake.

Hong Raksmey, country director of Save the Children Cambodia, described the organisation’s $4.2 million project to create a resilient environment and promote the socio-economic development of the eastern part of the lake.

He said the programme provides 647 households with access to clean water and school supplies to more than 4,500 students in Pursat, Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Thom provinces.