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July 19, 2010

The Civil Society and Pro-Poor Markets (CSPPM) program is a three-year project that has been operating in 13 provinces since 2007. As one component of the Multi-donor Livelihood Facility's natural resource management and livelihoods program it is designed to help support rural communities to improve the management of their natural resources. The program has three main aspects: to improve the quality of community-based natural resource management; to increase the 'voice' of communities to help them engage with local authorities and Commune Councils; and to improve the business skills of community groups. This has been achieved through the formation and support of Community-based Organisations (CBOs), groups of people organised around a common enterprise or goal.

The Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia Program (WCS) has been leading the implementation of this ambitious program in Preah Vihear and Mondulkiri. In addition to their own activities WCS supports five NGOs in Mondulkiri and five in Preah Vihear. In turn the program assists 79 CBOs across both provinces. The CBOs are carrying out a wide range of activities including:

  • Farmer groups on the Sen Monorom plateau who are working together to learn new agricultural techniques from the NGO ATSA, and pool production to garner higher prices;
  • Indigenous tenure groups in Mondulkiri aiming for recognition by the Ministry of Interior and registrations of their communal land;
  • Honey collection groups in Mondulkiri, supported by WWF, who are increasing the quality and productivity of their wild honey harvests, and earning higher incomes selling honey to outside markets;
  • Ecotourism committees in the Seima Protection Forest, Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary and Preah Vihear Protected Forest who are working with the Sam Vaesna Center to attract birdwatching tourists to their remote villages;
  • Community forestry groups in Mondulkiri and Preah Vihear;
  • Community Protected Area committees who are engaging with the Ministry of Environment to secure community management of sections of Wildlife Sanctuaries, and;
  • Resin collecting groups in Preah Vihear and Mondulkiri who are pooling production to demand higher prices from traders.

As the program draws to an end in late 2010 it is becoming clear that in many situations the groups have been greatly strengthened. Incomes have been increased in many cases, and the communities feel more able to demand action from their representative Commune Councils. More work will be needed with most of the groups to ensure their long-term sustainability and independence, but through the CSPPM program WCS has been able to support natural resource management in target landscapes, and the wider region.