The Community Agricultural Development Program (CADP) was created in response to an urgent need to stop deforestation caused by unsustainable slash-and-burn cultivation, a direct result of the extreme poverty of farmers living isolated in the heart of the Southern Cardamom Mountain Range. Since 2004, Wildlife Alliance has offered alternative, sustainable livelihoods to the families of Sovanna Baitong, providing agricultural expertise and lifting families out of a cycle of poverty and destruction. An important part of CADP is building local institutional capacity. One aspect of this is the Community Fund, a revolving micro-credit fund which includes compulsory and voluntary savings for families participating in the program at Sovanna Baitong.
The voluntary savings component has already generated $2,310 in deposits. Members of the group have access to this fund for emergencies such as medical, school or ceremonial expenses. These funds can also be loaned out to community members to purchase equipment or start new businesses. The group members collectively decide on loan applications and how to distribute these funds.
The compulsory savings component of the fund has reached $5,626. This form of savings has remained intact in the Community Association’s bank account since 2004, and will be used by the Association for future operation costs and continued development of infrastructure. The association chief, credit chief, and association accountant are responsible for the disbursement of this component.
The Community Fund has been a successful endeavor, as loans that were dispersed to community members for generating new income have all been paid back on time and in full, and have resulted in higher household incomes. The Community Fund remains an important aspect of CADP, as it not only gives community members access to loans for emergencies and business development, but also provides a sense of security and pride to the community as a whole. This is an integral part to our model for sustainable conservation as it protects the community from having to return to previous slash and burn practices of farming.