Saturday, December 15, 2007

ADB Provides $20M to Assist Cambodia's Tonle Sap Region


Press Release - Asian Development Bank

Dec. 6 2007

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing $20 million to develop and upgrade infrastructure and improve livelihood opportunities in the most impoverished region in Cambodia.

The Tonle Sap Lowlands Rural Development Project will be funded by a $10.1 million loan and $9.9 million grant from the ADB. The government of Cambodia will provide $3 million and the project beneficiaries will contribute $1 million to complete funding for the project.

“The project will provide direct and indirect economic benefits to about 68,000 households with a population of about 354,000 persons in 40 communes selected in the three provinces around Tonle Sap Lake, which lie outside the buffer zone of the Tonle Sap biosphere reserve,” said Ian W. Makin, senior water resources management specialist of ADB’s South Asia Department. “This will provide a stable base for improving rural incomes and reduce the need for people to migrate into the buffer zone during the dry season.”

This project is part of ADB’s Tonle Sap Initiative launched in October 2002. The Initiative is a partnership of organizations and people working to meet the poverty and environment challenges of the Tonle Sap area.

Tonle Sap Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, covering an area of 2,500-3,000 square kilometers during the dry season. The land, water and biological resources of Tonle Sap directly benefit 40% of the population of the provinces Kampong Chhang, Kampong Thom and Pursat that adjoin the lake. The resources found in Tonle Sap Lake underpin food security and employment elsewhere and is of global significance for biodiversity conservation.

Many of the people in the lowland rural communities that surround Tonle Sap depend on agriculture and they are vulnerable to shocks. Accidents and ill health, seasonal shortages of rainfall, water and food heighten the vulnerability of people in the lowlands. Despite the richness of the lake, the Tonle Sap region has the highest poverty rate in the country at 38%.

In Cambodia, high population growth is increasing the number of people to feed, and the use of Tonle Sap basin’s natural resources is intense. Major threats include overexploitation of fisheries and wildlife resources, conversion of the flooded forest to agriculture and collection of wood for fuel from whatever remains of the forest area.

The project seeks to address these problems by developing and improving rural infrastructure to move products to market, distribute agricultural inputs and improve farm yields through, among others, providing new irrigation facilities and improving existing ones. Enhanced infrastructure attracts commercial financial services needed to support increased economic activities and other essential social services such as health and education.

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