BATTAMBANG, Cambodia – During an afternoon of sun between the rains in the village of Tuol Ta Aek, a group of children play outside. Nearby, the water line is evident on the villagers’ homes and fences where the floods reached a year ago.
Kong Halimas, 53, washes her family’s clothes outside. “With the new drainage system, our children go to school on time and their books are no longer wet,” she said.
October marks the tail end of a long rainy season here and many neighborhoods, both urban and rural, are flooded. Children swim in trenches, and debris blocks the limited drainage. The moped taxi system, known as “Tuk-Tuks,” forge through the streets, a full tire-deep or deeper with a muddy gruel splashing upwards.
Tuol Ta Aek, however, has a new, community-managed irrigation system and the infrastructure now keeps the neighborhood dry.
Chitembo Kawimba Chunga has come from Lusaka, Zambia, to see what climate resilience means in this part of northwestern Cambodia. She speaks with Kong Halimas and her 67-year-old husband Chnom Somat about the improvements in the village, communicating animatedly through an interpreter. “Families told me they have more customers for their shops, and it is easier for the kids to go to school. They even see fewer water-borne disease here now,” she said.
A delegation of 17 Zambians traveled from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and on to Battambang and Pursat in search of practical knowledge about climate resilience that they can take back home. They travelled about 9,000 kilometers from their landlocked country in southern Africa, many leaving the continent for the first time. The group includes community leaders, beneficiaries and government representatives who want to discover firsthand how Cambodia has pursued climate resilience, including adaptation and mitigation, within the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) that both countries joined in 2008. (PPCR is a funding window of the Climate Investment Funds, CIF).
Phan Diev has three children. She lives in Battambang, alongside the canal that runs through the center of her rural village. In recent years, the canal had risen over its banks, dragging storm debris in its wake. PPCR supported the rehabilitation of the canal, along with similar projects in Cambodia, Zambia, and other countries. The rice farmer says her community now “yields twice the rice than in recent years” due to improved irrigation from the canal.