Researchers from the University of Auckland, the Royal University of Phnom Penh, the University of Western Australia (UWA) and the University of Sydney organised two workshops on climate change adaptation in disaster-prone areas along the Mekong River in Cambodia.
Three years of research findings and policy implications were discussed with a broad group of stakeholders in the country’s capital Phnom Penh and the town of Kratie, including village leaders, commune chiefs, representatives from government and NGOs, academics and students. The workshop in Phnom Penh was hosted by the Royal University of Phnom Penh and held at the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Centre on 24 April 2019. Among the participants were representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Women Affairs, Ministry of Rural Development, the Emergency Coordination Center under the National Committee for Disaster Management, the World Food Programme, the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, the Mekong River Commission, USAID and several local NGOs.
“The research workshop in Phnom Penh generated lively discussions among participants and highlighted a pressing need for greater access to geospatial data and training in the application of remote sensing methods for disaster preparedness,” said Dr Bryan Boruff from UWA.
In Kratie, where the workshop was hosted by the Provincial Department of Rural Development on 26 April 2019, the local participants emphasised that the research team had “captured well their reality”, and they were very pleased to see the results of the research returned to communities and local authorities. The workshop was officially opened by Kratie’s Provincial Deputy Governor, Mr Pen Lynath. Among the participants were representatives of the various provincial departments, the commune and village leaders of Phrek Prasob district and staff of several local NGOs.
Two of the presentations were based on dissertations completed by Master of Environmental Science students Savuti Henningsen and Mark Williams from the University of Western Australia. Both students were hosted by the rural communities that were the focus of the research, alongside small teams of students from the Royal University of Phnom Penh who acted as research assistants, facilitators and translators.
“Both Savuti and Mark were outstanding students who really immersed themselves in their research. Mark spent time with the communities working on participatory hazard mapping, and recording local adaptations to floods and droughts. Savuti compiled seasonal calendars of agricultural livelihoods and weather events, as well as interviewing women about their daily routines in times of flood and drought,” said Dr Natasha Pauli (UWA). “Our wonderful Cambodian collaborators translated their work into policy briefs and presentations, delivered in Khmer, which were provided as a tangible output of the research,” she added.
The research project has been funded by the Asia Pacific Network for Global Change Research, and is led by Professor Andreas Neef at the University of Auckland. A Research Impact Grant from the University of Western Australia, awarded to Dr Natasha Pauli and Dr Bryan Boruff, made a significant contribution towards the cost of running the two workshops.