Between the 15th and the 19th of August Forum Syd Southeast Asia carried out a partner visit in the eastern Cambodian province of Mondulkiri together with representative from Sida. The provincial capital of Mondulkiri, Sen Monorom, welcomed with cool, fresh air and a few hours of rain Monday afternoon but then kept the sky clear the rest of the week making the trips onto dirt roads much more pleasant. The first stop of the weeklong trip was at Forum Syd partner MVI’s (My Village) office where an update on the ongoing program and activities was given. Forum Syd is supporting MVI’s work on strengthening indigenous peoples’ rights and their capacity to claim these rights as a minority. Also, sustainable natural resource management is an important part of their work with local communities.
Thereafter Chneng, Sreik Thom and Pou Traing villages were visited where local villagers shared experiences on working with MVI and current issues in their community. MVI’s has a diverse range of activities in Mondulkiri province, including organizing indigenous communities, setting up networks for improved communication and influencing on decision making processes, but also providing trainings on subjects ranging from gender to home gardening and animal husbandry. Villagers were happy for the support MVI provided them and wished for its continuation to further improve their situation.
Thursday, a remote part of Pou Train village’s community forest, used for collecting non-timber forest products such as raisins, was visited. It was a minor adventure just to get there and back but nothing compared to what the villagers’ daily work protecting and using the remote forest area. Villagers have to be on constant guard and perform regular patrols in order to catch illegal loggers – often armed and supported by powerful people – and protect their livelihood.
*In the photo are two women from one of MVI’s target areas who are involved in the Indigenous Women’s Network (IWN).