Banteay Meanchey province, Cambodia: Rice farmer Soun Lin is looking forward to counting some beans.
Though the monsoon is currently impacting South-East Asia, climate change is making rainfall patterns more erratic and dry seasons are getting longer. Traditional farming methods are no longer enough for rice farmers like Soun, since they need additional food and income to make it through drought periods.
That’s why, after ActionAid and partner NGO Ockenden Cambodia showed her how to make her livelihood drought-resistant, Soun is diversifying into vegetable farming.
Soun lives with her husband Ma Nak and their daughter Channa in Sro Na village in Mongkul Borei district in north-west Cambodia.
Back in June, the village committee nominated the couple to take Ockenden’s course on drip irrigation systems, supported by ActionAid and the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Department of Agriculture and funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Office (ECHO).
In essence, the system is a large Cambodian-style clay water jay fitted to a system of hose pipes, pricked with a nail to make a series of small holes. As the water flows through the hose, it slowly leaks out to keep the soil beneath moist and suitable for cultivation. A simple layer of straw on top stops the water from evaporating in the sun.
Suon and Nak combined a small grant from the programme with $25 of their own savings to buy essential kit for a vegetable patch in their immaculately-kept homestead. The first harvest of two long bean varieties is expected in September, and they make back most of the money they invested after selling the crop at the market.
“After that,” explains Suon, “we will get another two or three crops per year for about three years. That’s extra money we can spend on our daughter’s education as well as a reserve for the dry season.”
The four drought resistant agriculture trainings in Mongkul Borei district have reached over 100 families. They’re all part of the ECHO-funded ‘Building Disaster Resilient Communities’ project.
ActionAid is leading the project consortium including DanChurchAid, Oxfam, People in Need and Save the Children, plus 10 local NGO partners, throughout 2015.