Action Education (formerly Aide et Action), a French organisation, is leading project CO-SAVED, which aims to aid nearly 400,000 citizens within fishing communities who are adapting to climate change.

Supported by a €4 million EU fund, the project targets economic sustainability through local action.

Covering Kep, Kampot, Koh Kong, and Preah Sihanouk provinces, the project encompasses 10 districts and 47 communes along the nation’s coasts.

Amidst world-wide weather variations, July 2023 marked the warmest month on record. Vulnerable communities in the global south are bearing the brunt of the impact, despite their longstanding warnings about the issue.

Environmental shifts are severely affecting communities along the water, which heavily rely on fishing and aquaculture. This jeopardizes their livelihoods and access to food due to declining stocks and harsh economic conditions.

“Highly vulnerable yet less culpable, Cambodia presents a chance for European countries to acknowledge historical responsibilities through collaboration with the government,” AEA stated.

Keut Mattrohet, Aide et Action’s regional manager for the coastal region, emphasized the project’s focus on active participation from communities. He stated that as they are at the forefront of the struggle, their involvement in battling global warming is paramount for effective and locally-driven solutions.

He stressed the importance of homegrown initiatives over externally imposed ones. Empowering communities financially enables them to forge their own paths toward economic success.

“Community members set up a dedicated committee to oversee economic sustainability through prudent fund management and collective decision-making,” he said.

In Trapeang Sangkae, a Kampot riverside village, seven households manage fisheries. Retired fisherman Him Ny, overseeing his own aquafarm, aspires to boost supply for his family and community. Despite increasing demand, aquatic populations remain stagnant, making community-focused solutions essential.

“Solving the challenges in my community is imperative. Raising fish offers a safer alternative to labour-intensive angling, especially as ocean operation costs soar,” he said.

Ni Faridas transitioned from traditional fishing to aquatic cultivation and now guides domestic and foreign eco-tourists on boat tours around mangrove forests in the area.

“Community members engage visitors in planting mangroves, sharing insights about local flora and wildlife,” Faridas noted.

The scenic Kampot River offers nature travellers a chance to contribute to sustainable, climate-resilient growth, enhancing living standards in maritime villages.