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Cycle 7 (2018 Deadline)

Climate change impact on rice yield and food security in the riverine communities in Cambodia

PI: Serey Sok (, Royal University of Phnom Penh
U.S. Partner: Aniruddha Ghosh, University of California, Davis
Dates: November 2018 - October 2020

Project Overview

This research project will focus on assessing impacts of climate change on rice yield leading to food insecurity in Cambodia. Climate change directly or indirectly contributes to declines in rice yield, leading to food insecurity. Vulnerability of agricultural systems to extreme climate events is often linked to the adaptive capacity of local farmers. Therefore, improving local adaptive capacity is important to sustaining the rural livelihood of riverine communities of Cambodia. The researchers conducting this project have designed it to build upon statistical and geospatial modeling techniques, using information from different sources of secondary data and field work at the national and provincial levels, especially interviews with key informants. This research will combine both conceptualization and empirical data through statistical analysis and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to ascertain the negative impacts from climate change leading to declines in rice yields and increased food insecurity. This research will also involve interviews with local people and officials from government agencies and NGOs, an extensive literature review, and case studies.

7-085 2019 Survey7-085 2019 Survey 2
Team members conduct a survey in Pursat and Battambang Provinces. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Serey)

Most previous studies focusing on Tonle Sap Lake have been conducted by regional and international organizations. While the findings are broadly reached, they do not always comprehensively fit the Cambodian context. Domestic institutions have mostly been the subjects of the project evaluations or assessments, but this study will be led by a local Cambodian academic researcher. He and his team will engage with a wide range of stakeholders, including regional and national experts, local villagers, and representatives of government agencies and NGOs at the various stages of this project. They will organize consultative meetings to facilitate interaction among the various stakeholders, present their preliminary findings, collect feedback, and discuss policy applications and future planning. This development dialogue among the stakeholders will be critical to bridging the gaps between academic research, planning, and policy implementation.

Summary of Recent Activities

During the first quarter of 2020, Dr. Sok Serey and his team had collected a large amount of qualitative data through social tools and participatory approaches. In order to understand the relevant legal framework, policies, programmatic interventions, and views of government agencies and NGOs, the researchers conducted key informant interviews with officials from the following: (1) General Directorate of Agriculture, Ministry of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; (2) Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in Tboung Khmum; (3) Action Against Hunger-Cambodia in Phnom Penh, Child Rights Foundation in Phnom Penh; (4) Forest and Livelihood Organization in Kratie; (5) Commune Council Committee in Bakan District, Pursat Province; (6) Commune Council Committee in Peam Ro District; Prey Veng Province; (7) Commune Council Committee in Kompong Siem District, Kompong Cham Province; and (8) Commune Council Committee in Sangke District, Battambang. Meetings with commune heads and rice farmers have also been very important to validate the data analyzed and to collect qualitative data to explain the quantitative data collected through the surveys conducted in Pursat, Battambang, Prey Veng, and Kompong Cham. The PI and his colleagues held discussion meetings with commune heads and rice farmers in Peam Ro District of Prey Veng (February 3-4, 2020), Kompong Siem District of Kompong Cham (February 17-18), and Sangke District of Battambang (February 24-25). They also conducted a separate informal technical meeting with local scholars and experts to validate the findings and collect further feedback for qualitative explanation. The meeting provided a venue for sharing more technical explanations regarding the impacts of flood and droughts on the Tonle Sap and the Mekong River.

By the end of March 2020, Dr. Sok Serey and his colleagues had completed the field work on this project and entered into the stage of analyzing data and writing scientific papers for publication. One manuscript has been prepared by the PI in collaboration Dr. Chhinh Nyda, Dr. Hor Sanara, Dr. Aniruddha Ghosh, and Prof. Robert J. Hijmans, and it should be revised and ready for submission to an international journal in May.

On March 18, the government of Cambodia issued mandatory work-from-home orders, so since then the research team has mainly been working on data collected for writing scientific papers. Dr. Serey, Dr. Nyda, and Dr. Sanara had been scheduled to visit Dr. Ghosh and Dr. Hijmans in California April 13-23, but the trip had to be postponed indefinitely pending resolution of the coronavirus pandemic. This has delayed the analysis of household survey, field plot, and rice field data. The PI and his Cambodian colleagues are working to collaborate remotely with their U.S. partners as best they can on analyzing these data so additional papers can be drafted.

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