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Hok and Sienglee

Women and climate change

The “Woman Champions” project

Hok and her daughter Sienglee live in the Pursat region of Cambodia, where extreme raining and flooding are increasingly altering waterways and roads, affecting the economy and the community.

Most of Cambodia is an alluvial plain, with 85% of the country’s land lying in the lower Mekong River basin. During the monsoon season, there are seasonal floods and rivers are overflowing. In recent years, factors related to climate change – such as unpredictable seasons, rising sea levels and erratic rainfall - have contributed to more intense storms, floods, droughts, crop losses and food shortages.

Hok and her family have suffered a drastic drop in income, largely due to prolonged droughts and subsequent flash floods that have decimated crops. Like many people in her village, Hok has been forced to incur large amounts of debt in order to survive.

In Cambodia, over the past five years, ActionAid has developed a project called “Woman Champions”, that supports women to become leaders in their villages. To help their communities survive climate change, women are trained in advocacy and organizational skills. Furthermore, women farmers are being supported to adapt to the climate crisis by using farming methods that are more resilient to erratic climate conditions.

Hok says that participating in ActionAid’s project has helped her feel more confident in speaking up and addressing issues. Before, she only knew about issues within her family, but now she is involved in her community.

ActionAid also works in schools in Cambodia where, alongside their regular education, children are taught about climate-smart agriculture and alternative livelihoods.

Sienglee is a studious 10-year-old girl who is already aware of the effects of the climate crisis. When she is not at school, she helps out at home and tends to her family’s rice field every two weeks. She is not afraid of challenges: in fact, her ambition is to become a doctor and help her community, just like her mother.

Photocredits: Cindy Liu/ActionAid