Female community leaders at the community orchard
In 2004, Wildlife Alliance worked with 187 landless families to help them escape poverty and generate a sustainable and dependable income. The Community Agriculture Development Project (CADP) was implemented in Sovanna Baitong for forest dwellers previously engaged in destructive slash-and-burn farming practices and wildlife poaching. Today, each family lives and works on their own 1.5 hectares of agricultural land, growing cash and subsistence crops using modern agricultural methods, like efficient drip irrigation, to generate income year round. However, in order for any community project to achieve autonomy, it is vital for it to be economically self-sufficient, politically supported by regional and national governments, and locally driven and managed. This year, the Community Agriculture Development Project at Sovanna Baitong moves closer to achieving all of these goals.
One of the first steps taken to achieve financial sustainability was the creation of the Community Orchard, which will increase income for community members through the cultivation of high-yield cash crops. The development of the Community Orchard began at the end of last year, and if projections bear out, the orchard should be fully supporting the community within 3-5 years.
On March 18, the Ministry of Interior officially recognized the community of Sovanna Baitong as a township. A ceremony was held on May 9 with representatives from the local, provincial and district government in attendance. This kind of regional support for the community is necessary to ensure the long term success of the project.
And lastly, at the beginning of this year, the project was handed over to Khmer staff for management. The project was always designed to empower civil society and incorporate community members in decision-making processes. However, passing on leadership responsibilities to Cambodians will ensure that the project is internally motivated to stay active. In January, Ms. Pich Sokhany succeeded Gil-ad Chen as the project manager of both CADP and the Tropical Reforestation Project. Sokhany is both qualified and well suited for the position. She graduated from the Royal University of Law and Economics in Phnom Penh with a degree in Accounting, and has worked as the assistant manager and accountant for the project since 2007. Having risen through the ranks as a female manager in a male-dominated field, she has accomplished a great deal and has proved to be a determined and effective leader. She cares passionately about Wildlife Alliance’s mission to alleviate poverty, and protect forests and wildlife, and is excited to help CADP transition into a self-reliant autonomous community.
Help the community of Sovanna Baitong achieve autonomy and sustainability by making a small donation today!
Opening ceremony held on May 9th
Suwanna Gauntlett with new project manager Sokhany