The USAID Asia-Pacific project is helping communities in Cambodia secure fresh water supplies in the face of climate change threats. Working closely with the country’s Ministry of Rural Development and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the program is finding suitable climate change adaptation measures to make “community ponds” – upon which villages are almost entirely dependent – more productive and sustainable.
Past weather events have shown that communities and ponds around the Tonle Sap Lake floodplain are particularly vulnerable to climate extremes. For example, during the dry season, the ponds’ water supplies dry up because of higher temperatures and rates of evaporation, while, during the wet season, more intense rainfall causes flooding in many areas.
Under the Second Rural Water Supply Sanitation Sector Project (RWSSP2), the USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific team, together with the ADB and local government officials, is working to provide sustainable water supply solutions to several villages in the Cambodian province of Banteay Meanchey throughout the dry, wet and transitional seasons.
The USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific project is supporting this capacity development initiative in Cambodia, along with others in targeted countries around the region, to help prepare climate change adaptation projects.
Specific to the RWSSP2, the program is studying how climate change is affecting several Cambodian villages dependent on the use of community ponds in order to recommend appropriate adaptation actions to make these ponds more reliant. The program will potentially use these findings to help prepare viable sub-projects (incorporating adaptation) for future financing.
The team conducted vulnerability and adaptation assessments to determine the exposure of the ponds to climate change threats and the sensitivity of the ponds to potential impacts on the environment, social relations, institutions, and built systems. Knowing the level of impacts, the team was able to assess the level of vulnerability and adaptive capacity of the community ponds, as well as identify potential adaptation options.
As part of the project, 30 public sector officials from national and provincial government institutions in Cambodia attended a USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific led workshop held in October 2013 in Siam Reap. The workshop shared key findings from the project’s study on 11 pilot community ponds for climate proofing.
Some local adaptation options identified include community outreach programs on conservation and management of water geared towards empowering women and other vulnerable groups; and pond refurbishment activities to improve water supply control and retention, while protecting rural access roads against extreme flooding.
Using the feedback from the assessments, the workshop and ongoing field visits, USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific is developing a methodological guideline to effectively “climate-proof” community water supply ponds. This tool will provide support to government and community stakeholders in the future planning, design and management of resilient community ponds in Cambodia.
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