Resettlement after mine clearance
Training for Disaster Resilience
Developing appropriate technology
Helping provide education for the rural poor
Working with indigenous tribes
Establishing Community Forestry holdings
More than 30 years of civil war has left Cambodia with a
tortured legacy. With the help of
Ockenden International, hundreds of thousands of refugees returned to their
country to rebuild their shattered lives.
Although this work was key in the resettlement programme as the war
receded, today the problems are different.
With nearly 80% of people living in the countryside, land distribution is a sensitive issue. A whole class of rural poor are still expecting to be given lawful land tenure, but in many cases find themselves newly dispossessed by land distribution to the wealthy and powerful . Land mines are still a problem with whole areas remaining uncleared and inaccessible. Appropriate technical knowledge is undeveloped and education in rural areas is still poorly provided for in many cases. Climate change is affecting the growing seasons, with longer, drier periods bringing drought and reducing yields, while deforestation and burning across the country is altering the local climate. Wages are very low, partly due to massively falling market prices for rice and cassava. But also due to an inability to add value to raw materials before they are exported to the controlling Thai and Vietnamese businesses who have been granted Economic Land Concessions over hundreds of thousands of hectares.
Ockenden Cambodia is an NGO with world class parentage. It aims to improve rural self-reliance, working with small farmers on sustainable agricultural systems and techniques. It works with technical partners such as the Halo Trust to clear land mines and make agricultural land safe for working. It runs infrastructure projects, establishing schools and teachers for education in small villages, building access roads and bridges and funding small scale plant such as feed mills for villagers. And it works on the labyrinthine process of establishing Community Forests for indigenous tribes and villages.
Ockenden’s model is to provide initial support in these areas, focusing on capacity building, so that farmers and communities can support themselves in the longer term. Sometimes with the help of overseas volunteers, keen to learn the difficulties of life in Cambodia, but always with dedicated staff from the Ockenden team, projects are closely managed and monitored. Part of the job is therefore in fundraising, to enable this really essential work to continue.