Representatives of 168 communities from around the Kingdom said they were “delighted” after Minister of Environment Say Sam Al announced his support for the funding of environmental and social assistance packages to aid conservation and development efforts.
“I believe that you [the representatives] will make the right decisions for the future of your communities and I encourage all provincial authorities to work closely with the ministry and your communities to implement projects for community development,” Sam Al said.
He was speaking to the representatives at the first Natural Resource Conservation Community Network Conference on Tuesday.
Sam Al told the representatives that the government would support the funding if the communities could outline specific purposes for the money and ensure that it would improve their standard of living.
“The government aims to raise the community’s income by establishing new options [to earn] livelihoods and reduce the habit of depending on forest products alone. The options include work and management training in eco-tourism and raising domestic animals to support market demand,” Sam Al said.
Local community network Jayavarman-Norodom Kulen head Rath Roeuy from Siem Reap province, who attended the conference, said he was “delighted” upon hearing the announcement. He said it was a good chance to further develop society and empower local communities.
“I will submit a request for [funds] to be directed towards the development of eco-tourism [in our community] to improve our quality of life by selling souvenirs, fruits and other forest products to tourists who visit the community.
“When we implement eco-tourism projects, more tourists will visit our community and this will help improve our quality of life,” he said.
The ministry said it had created 168 new communities in the first quarter of this year to help in the conservation of protected areas across the country.
The new communities have sprouted 35 networks inside natural protected areas across the Kingdom. They share their experiences with government officials in a bid to improve living standards, it said.