Rain and flooding in KE manager's neighborhood
It is said that experience makes the best teacher. And in the case of feeling the very scary, very real impacts of climate change, the Kouprey Express has firsthand experience. In addition to raising awareness about protecting wildlife in Cambodia, our curriculum for training teachers and community educators includes lessons on climate change and adaptation – facts of life that affect all of our beneficiaries and in recent months have personally impacted each member of our team as well.
Weather patterns have noticeably changed in recent years, with unusual droughts affecting crops and immensely heavy rain storms destroying houses, infrastructure, and rendering areas inaccessible due to severe flooding. 2020 was a difficult year for the planet, and in Cambodia it was made more challenging by exceptionally heavy and unseasonal storms - that struck even in dry season in 2021 - that resulted in catastrophic flooding around much of the country. This flooding directly affected every member of our environmental education team. In fact, the Kouprey Express has the dubious honor of being the only team at Wildlife Alliance in which every member’s house has flooded at least once, with one team member’s home flooding three times in just ten days!
The rains caused considerable damage to and loss of property as well as lost worktime. Between August 2020 and February 2021, the Kouprey Express lost a total of 20 working days due to climate change-related flooding as the team had to not only clean up the aftermath but also evacuate their homes until the flooding subsided, fortify their houses to protect against the next storm, and in the cases of two staff, move to new accommodation. Such flooding is also extremely dangerous - the risk of electrocution is high during house floods in Cambodia because wiring is often not installed to code and the majority of houses in cities are not built on stilts as they are in the countryside. Another major climate change related threat is drowning, as roads, bridges, and embankments can suddenly wash away and swimming skills are few and far between here.
The weather now dictates the schedule of when the Kouprey Express mobilizes to deliver environmental education in rural areas, with the team staying close to the capitol city when inclement weather is on the horizon to help keep their families safe. This is a sad and unfortunate reality, but like most of the communities we serve our project must prioritize climate change and it makes our team well-situated to drive home the urgency to take action! Our lessons feature important facts and information concerning climate change in both the Cambodian and global context, and most importantly, offer useful adaptation methods based on experience that are designed to keep everyone safe. Instead of looking at this as a headache, we see it as an opportunity to help communities in emergency preparedness in order to weather the storms that are continually increasing in magnitude.
Your donations make it possible to not just raise awareness of endangered wildlife but also to share these climate change education and preparedness messages, which can save lives in emergencies, with more Cambodian communities. Thank you!
KE flipchart on water/weather cycles in Cambodia
KE's simple graphics reflect a complicated reality
KE staff fortifies his home's door with sandbags
Flood waters from front door and under the floor