CBDRM for Building Drought Resilience in Cambodia


Kaos Krala district, particularly Hab commune, is one of the highly drought-affected areas in Cambodia. Irregular and limited rainfall put the people at higher risks: the poor become poorer because of drought and drought-created vulnerabilities.

The activities comprised at 3 stages:

  1. Local authority and community empowerment at drought risk assessment, risk reduction action plan development and risk reduction options and alternative option identifications
  2. Collaboration with the Departments of Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry; Water Resources and Meteorology, Women’s Affairs, Planning, and the District authority along with civil society and other agencies that work in DRR-related fields
  3. Establishing the community-owned, led,  managed and monitored community revolving fund “Micro Insurance facility” (MIF) for implementing the risk reduction action plans, focusing on environmentally friendly sustainable livelihoods development.

The project was implemented by Oxfam (2007-2008) and SGP GEF (2008-2009). Oxfam initiated CBDRM and SGP facilitated MIF systems

The essence and excellence of the project is still the functioning. Because it was started in the hands of the community, activities continued beyond the end of the programme. After almost 8 years, there are still some of the livelihoods-related activities continuing through the MIF system.


The entire intervention was developed in the hands of the community, advised by the commune and district authority. As a result, the community took ownership of the initiative as their project. The community itself has been raising their MIF capital to nearly 300% while they are managing it locally. The entire process was established on the local knowledge and skills from risk mapping to reduction and livelihood activities. Livelihood activities added further value with different departments like Agriculture, Water, Women’s Affairs, Planning and the local authority providing recommendations. The local government played a role as the key facilitator and guiding institution for keeping people on-track. Without effective support, the sustainability of the MIF after 8 years, could not have even been dreamt. Save the Earth Cambodia coordinated the activities.
Women-headed households, people with disabilities, orphans, divorced, and elderly people were the key marginalised people in the community. They were the key role-players with defined roles and 7 responsibilities. Gender responsive MIF systems (where policies supported to elect people without any grouping or political propaganda) and additional costs for gender mainstreaming were considered to ensure the women and men can contribute significantly. The MIF system ensured that women led and men, children and elderly people provided support for all drought DRR activities. All marginalised groups were involved and took the lead of their own following defined roles and responsibilities.
CBDRM activities were not adjusted in any way because the initiative was launched following the priorities of the community and advised by the local authority. Any risk findings and reduction initiatives were involved consultation and validation immediately with the local authority. As a result, the activities, implementation, progress-sharing and consultations in monthly meetings kept them updated on who is doing what and how, what risk there are, who is mitigating the risks, who needs technical support, etc. All issues were brought forward for discussion in the MIF monthly meetings chaired by MIF members (rotated) and in the presence of the Village and Commune Chiefs. The MIF system supported their self-monitoring and reporting systems under a given monitoring and reporting format. The “Self-Monitoring and Reporting” system was one of the capacity-building modules for transferring drought risk to livelihood initiatives. The self monitoring and reporting system was launched in the hands of the MIF committee which was overseeing the CBDRM activities. The monthly meeting organised by the community during the project was one of the “Community Drought Dialogue Platforms” mainly brought to discuss all issues including progress, challenges, coordination, support, risks and reduction measures, etc. on a regular basis. Save the Earth coordinated a 2-year phase-out after the end of the project. They received monthly monitoring and progress reports up to 2011, after which it was left to the MIF system as it was proven as that they know how to lead the monitoring of progress.


The system was established in the hands of the beneficiaries and observed by the local authorities. The “Community Drought Dialogue Platform” under the MIF system kept alive the CBDRM activities. The project phased out in September 2009, but the mechanisms continue to support the running of activities as ‘an on-going process’ Local resources were the key foundation for all forms of drought risk reduction and livelihoods related activities. For example, having safe sanitation required the household to dig the latrine hole and fencing at their own expense, while the project provided cement at a cost, The “Annual Climate Adapted Farming Calendar” supported by Department of Agriculture was one of the key livelihood-related activities as it demonstrated what, when and how to be planting, composting, avoiding chemical fertiliser, livestock-raising etc. MIF Capital increased nearly 300% since it launched in 2007-2008, serving as the powerhouse of resilience-building through CBDRM processes. The Community Drought Dialogue Platform mobilised people through monthly meetings, consulting on risk, challenges, progress and ways forward for the community drought resilience processes. The MIF (Micro Insurance Facility) serves as the motivational source for the community members where women, men, elderly people, people with disabilities, divorced, women-headed households, etc. had equal access to financial and technical resources for addressing any form of risk. There were more than 2-3 alternative sources of income – home gardening, chicken raising, pig raising, duck raising, household shops, selling breakfast etc. provided them with regular income and reduced dependency on agriculture and drought risk prone livelihood activities. Youth groups used to buy eggs, chickens, pigs and vegetables from households, etc. and brought them to sell in the Battambang provincial markets. Because of these alternative sources of income for youth, the temporary migration reduced. The MIF supported women to borrow money from the MIF and men to support them. As a result the voices of women at household and community levels were strongly established as the key decision-makers. Men can just simply use the money for alcohol or karaoke or any other activities out of the MIF guidance of where, when and how the MIF fund can be used. The Annual Climate Adapted Farming Calendar, developed by the Department of Agriculture in consultation with Water Resources and Meteorology and Women’s Affairs and Planning, contributed a vivid coordination mechanism for their successful project. There was a time that the local authority drove the community. But as the community people are fully organised, meet once a month, know each other, and are partners of success and challenges, the local authority is no longer in a position to drive decisions; instead, the community decides together who should be supported as the members of one community. Local authority also become more humble and supportive to the community. That serves the key to success of the CBDRM. The project phased out in 2009, but activities continue to date.
The poor could have 3 meals a day. Daily income increased from an average 2.5 USD to 5 USD or more. There has been a reduction in social crime and domestic violence. Women took the lead with respect in terms of household and community decision-making. People with disability, elderly people and divorced etc. people could have the chance to prove that they are contributing members of the community and they are not burden to anyone. Farmers increased their livelihoods to 3-4 sources of income, reducing dependency on agriculture and traditional livelihoods. There is more of a focus on science-based adaptation linking with the local knowledge, resources and skills. There has been a reduction in the number of children dropping out of school, as the MIF conditioned ‘children must go to school” if the parents want to access to MIF resources.


CBDRM must not focus on only DRR. It must come with a comprehensive and sustainable livelihoods approach in collaboration with local authority and all related government and community actors. If the CBDRM does not strongly embed the stronger collaboration and livelihoods initiatives, the DRR efforts may even increase the vulnerability of the poor because there are agencies that offer something for free that, in reality, disable the poor’s working culture by making them think that they can get something for free.
It is not adequate for reducing risk in the long term if it comes with only DRR initiatives. There has been a DM Law since 2015 but implementation has been limited.
In Cambodia, national, provincial, district, commune and village committees for disaster risk reduction are in place. They are well structured but there are no mechanisms to the extent of its functioning. There is limited technical capacity. There are big agencies that engage with CBDRM with some big workshops and publishing documents but it does not really make any transformation at the people at the frontline who are at risk. There is really very ‘limited’ financial resources. When there is a project, there are capacity building activities and when the project ends, the initiatives also come to end (most of the cases).
'Free giving' incentives are not a long term solution. They may even hinder the regular self-dependency thoughts. The incentives must come under a mechanism like MIF to re-revolve the processes.
It has been motivating neighbouring communities. One of the components was to provide livelihoods for 60 women-headed households. The number was 76 when it external evaluation was conducted in 2010 and had increased to 96 by 2013.