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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

Household survey work among communities along the Mekong River represented a major focus for Dr. Sok Serey and his team during the last quarter of 2019. The household surveys included four main parts: (1) the Rural Household Multi-Indicator Survey (RHoMIS), v1.3.1, (2) climate impact, (3) field plot, and (4) rice field. The researchers interviewed 144 households in Peam Ro District of Prey Veng Province December 7-12 and 129 households in Kompong Siem District of Kompong Cham Province December 25-30. Another area of activity was the creation of a vulnerability map of climate change on rice production, which the team compiled by using GIS-based secondary data collected from the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery, and Forestry between 1981 and 2019.

In an effort to gather additional input, the PI and his team held two discussion meetings in January 2020. The first was held January 8 with commune heads in Bakan District of Pursat Province. The researchers collected qualitative data from these local government officials and discussed with them some preliminary findings from the household survey. The second meeting was held with local rice farmers in Bakan District on January 9. The aim was to collect qualitative data, discuss initial findings, and conduct a joint field observation to observe how farmers obtain water, especially from irrigation.

As of early 2020, the team is drafting a manuscript based on the surveys for quantitative data in the four provinces targeted in this project (Battambang, Pursat, Prey Veng, and Kompong Cham) along the Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake. With recent water scarcity and shortages of water for agricultural needs being the focus of intense political attention, the manuscript should be an important tool for planners, policy makers, and project designers working in the communities along the Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake in order to reduce the negative impacts from climate change. To complete the paper, the PI and his team need to gather some additional qualitative data by organizing more discussion meetings and collecting key information from local government, NGOs, and international organizations. The paper should be completed in March and then submitted for peer review. In addition, the PI plans to visit the University of California, Davis in April to work with U.S. partner Dr. Aniruddah Ghosh on data analysis. This cooperative work will help in analyzing data for another paper to be submitted in the future.

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