Farmers’ Perspectives on Risk and Adaptation Strategies in the Mekong, Cambodia

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Aims: In Cambodia the frequency and impacts of natural disasters has been increasing. The impacts of droughts and floods are most severe within the agricultural sector which accounts for around 29% of Cambodia’s GDP and 59% of the work force. In this paper we assess the farmers’ perspectives on risk and adaptation strategies in the Mekong, Cambodia. Methodology: Interviews were conducted with 280 farmers in four Mekong provinces in Cambodia as well as at least 10 representatives of local authority and civil society staff from each of the four provinces. Place and Duration of Study: Prey Veng, Kampong Cham, Stung Treng, and Ratanakiri provinces, Cambodia, 2013. Results: Having experienced the adverse effects of flood many times, the farmers ranked flood highest among other risks. Drought was ranked second in particular in areas with lack of access to irrigation. Other risks considered by farmers were fluctuations in agriculture input and output prices, change in weather and shortage of irrigation water. The perception of farmers about the level of risk was closely linked with their adaptation strategy. If risks are perceived as low, no action is taken to cope with the risk. The government pays more attention to floods compared to other disasters. The research shows that most farmers (88%) got support from government and NGOs when there was a flood. The government and NGOs distributed food and hygiene packages during floods and crop seeds after floods. Because this support only lasts a short time, it does not compensate all impacts of the flood. Beside this emergency relief, the government and NGOs support the farmers to improve their livelihood through agriculture extension. However, the farmers did not think the program fit with them. They applied their own adaptation strategies such as selling labor and borrowing money to recover from the flood damage. Conclusion: This study provides evidence that the ongoing climate change programs initiated by NGOs and government alone cannot help farmers recover from the impact of floods. Consequently in this paper we argue that the government should improve their programs to help farmers cope with floods, droughts and other risks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalJournal of Geography, Environment and Earth Science International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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