Women’s leadership improves natural resource conservation

Success story - 2023-03-10
Meet Ms. Yon Chan On, one of the female leaders to actively join the Our Tonle Sap project. Through local government budget allocation, she improves natural resource conservation. This 4-year project focuses on building resilient ecosystems, communities, and biodiversity to withstand rapid environmental change in the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve in Cambodia.

Ms. Chan On was recently elected as the commune council chief of Sambour commune at Kralanh district in Siem Reap province in Cambodia. She takes the lead with her first leadership mandate from 2022 to 2027 focusing on Tonle Sap areas.  

Sambour is the first commune, amongst 8 communes of the project target areas, allocating its annual budget to supporting community fisheries (CFi) innovative activities. 

Portrait of Ms. Yon Chan On.
Ms. Yon Chan On is part of a farming family with her six siblings, and her father is a local fisher. She graduated primary school in 1995 and has since become an active volunteer in her community. Photo: LLC

 

As the commune council chief, Ms. Chan On has high commitment to coordinating and leading her colleagues while working on natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and improving community resilience and environment management.  

Ms. Chan On and local authorities during flooded in 2022.
Ms. Chan On joints with local authorities to rescue the villagers during flooded in 2022. Photo: Ms. Yon Chan On

 

She routinely joins CFi activities like forest patrolling and encourages CFi committees to join the commune councils monthly meeting. Providing safe spaces for the CFi committee to speak and express their ideas and concerns related to CFi tasks is an important part of the job that Ms. Chan On is active in.  

Through her leadership and coordination, working on improvement the management and distribution of commune resources, progress has been made in fishery management and climate resilience. 

Fishery resources and flooded forests in our commune are very valuable for our peoples’ living conditions and community wellbeing. Fishing has greatly contributed to peoples’ annual income generation. (Ms. Chan On) 

 

Overview of the fish conservation area.
The Fish Conservation area during the dry season. Photo: ForumCiv

 

1 041 of 1 542 households are fishers, and they can earn an average 40,000 Riel per day from fishing activities in Tonle Sap areas. In the fishing season, from August to June for every year, the individual fishery household can earn an annual income that is approximately 12 000 000 Riel. Our communities annually get many different benefits that are NTFP in the flooded forest areas in a contribution to improving peoples’ living conditions and their children’s education. According a joint community analysis stated in 2022 and CAP and CFi Management Plan (MP) 2022-2025, developed by commune council representatives and CFi committees via technical supports from Live & Learn Cambodia & FiA.

We have high commitment and willingness to keep up forward with our annual budget. I and my colleagues will try our best to support CFi tasks. We appreciated welcoming all development partners that wish to help and support us working on an improvement of our local fishery resources and community resilience in Tonle Sap areas, such as our commune. I am happy to thank my colleagues working and deciding together to provide the budget support to CFi activities. I am so proud of great decision-making during my leadership mandate, and it is an incentive gift from all council members. (Ms. Yon Chan On) 

Picture taken from a boat on the water in Tonle Sap areas.
1 041 of 1 542 households are fishers, and they can earn an average 40,000 Riel per day from fishing activities in Tonle Sap areas. Photo: ForumCiv

 

A view over Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve.
The focus of the project that ForumCiv supports is on building resilient ecosystems, communities, and biodiversity to withstand rapid environmental change in the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve. Photo: ForumCiv

 

 We, CFi committees, were so proud of the commune council accepting CFi budget request and providing fund support that was 2 million Riel. It was the first meaningful gift for CFi that was created since 2008. Even though it was a small amount of the budget, it was a​ participatory start-up from the commune council led by the first young lady in Sambour commune. As community people working voluntarily with CFi, I wish to see all communes around Cambodia allocating the budget for CFi CAP. Active working together addressing climate change impact and improving climate resilience demands joint coordination in natural resource management and takes account of community resources transparently. (Mr. Roeut Pich, Prek Talork CFi leader) 

Portrait of Mr. Roeut Pich taken outside.
Mr. Roeut Pich, Prek Talork CFi leader. Photo: LLC
The Our Tonle Sap project
  • The project covers a period of 4 years from 2021 to 2024. 
  • The focus is on building resilient ecosystems, communities, and biodiversity to withstand rapid environmental change in the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve.  
  • There are two specific objectives:  
    - Enhance management and restoration of critical habitats to facilitate resilience to environmental change
    - Improve governance and policy to reduce drivers of environmental change Commune Investment Plan (CIP) and District Integration Workshop (DIW).  
  • Under this project, ForumCiv supports four local NGOs: Ponleur Kumar-PK, Akphivath Neary Khmer Organization-ANKO, Live & Learn Cambodia-LLC, and Village Support Group-VSG. 
  • The four local NGOs have project intervention in 31 Community Fisheries and 1 Community Protected Area in 6 provinces around the Tonle Sap and works with 32 target communities.  

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