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Min Sarith teaching families how to grow sustainable food

Min Sarith (right) is a teacher and community leader from a remote village in Cambodia’s Banteay Meanchey province. He’s been working alongside local experts in the Karuna Battambang Organisation (KBO), supported by CAFOD, to help families grow sustainable food in an increasingly unpredictable climate.

For our last Hands On project, we have been working with KBO (Karuna Battambang Organisation) in some of the remotest parts of Cambodia.

Our project in the Battambang region, sometimes referred to as the “rice bowl”, has come to a close now. But the support we have received from you has helped farming families face formidable challenges.

How your support has made a difference to farming families in Battambang

Increasingly unpredictable weather made planting and harvesting rice almost impossible. Droughts and floods ruined crops. Covid-19 limited travel and stopped farmers from selling goods at market, while poverty pushed people out of the country and weakened communities.

But through sustainable farming, planting vital trees, making natural fertiliser, strengthening local community groups and so much more, you have helped us achieve our original Hands On Karuna Battambang project goal to “increase knowledge, skills and confidence of farming families living in remote communities and facing the disastrous effects of the climate crisis”.

Success stories from our Hands On project

Nothing compares to the KBO projects that have provided me with new skills. Money I received will be spent in the short term, but knowledge is completely different – I will use it for a long, long time.

Uch Sivat, Farmer

Women's cafe

Hands On supporters have helped to assist women like Sreyneang (below), who has taken part in a CAFOD-funded cooking programme in a local village cafe. The café not only serves cooked meals, but local farmers are able to sell their produce.

Hands On Karuna Battambang - Sreyneang

Sreyneang is also learning how to run the business and is keen to open up her own café in the future, with hoped to build a solid future, for her family and her whole community.

The women’s café made an income of around £5,370 from January to December and welcomed 975 satisfied customers.

Animal helpers

In Kompong Chhang province, KBO conducted poultry and cow-rearing training for farmers who wanted to improve their livelihoods - 42 families now own chickens and special chicken feed.

When Uch Sivat (below) and her husband were unable to work due to sickness, KBO were able to assist with advice on how to work with their animals on their rice paddies, even providing them with a cow after they had to sell their livestock to get by.

Hands On Karuna Battambang - Uch Sivat

Overall, KBO has reached out to 490 farmers (in 23 communities across six provinces) to provide vital rice farming training to families struggling in the face of the climate crisis.

Trees that keep on giving

In Pursat province, community members marked their forest boundary by planting 14,000 palm trees. Palm trees act as a barrier to storm winds and produce shade, fruit juice as well as materials to make hats and mats to sell at the market.

Hands On Karuna Battambang - Trees that keep on giving

Our supporters’ donations also helped purchase 44 communication devices, 44 raincoats, and 44 pairs of boots for people to work safely on forest patrols, monitoring and protecting their community forest for five days a week!

Raising up the next generation

Yun Sotheareak is an inspirational teacher from a remote region of Cambodia supported by KBO.

Yun Sotheareak knows first-hand how a quality education can change the course of a person’s life. Most of the people in the village are rice farmers who also own chickens and cows, and most students are farmer’s children.

Hands On Karuna Battambang - Yun Sotheareak

Despite the challenges these children face, they are determined to get an education. Even when they are tired and worn out from farm work, “they still come to school to learn”.

Over the course of this Hands On project, KBO experts taught 60 students how to plant healthy trees and provided 10,000 seeds in nine different varieties.

Previous Hands On successes

We have also seen incredible success in Magdalena Medio, Altiplano, Doutchi, and Kitui. Which is all thanks to generous supporters who got hands on, supporting these communities through monthly donations, messages of encouragement and friendship.

Hands On Altiplano in Bolivia

Nicanora and her community faced unimaginable challenges on her small farm in the Bolivian highlands. But Hands On supporters joined her on a two-year journey to transform her life and help her provide for her children.

Hands On Doutchi in Niger

Frequent drought and devastating floods in Doutchi have repeatedly destroyed harvests, meaning that it can be a struggle for families to have even one meal a day. However, thanks to generous Hands On donors, the people of Doutchi have learnt how to survive on the edge of the Sahara Desert.

Hands On Kitui in Kenya

The people of Kitui are working hard to transform their land and create a sustainable water supply. Work is well underway - dams are being built, trees are being planted, and thanks to your help, the people are looking forward to a brighter future.

Hands On Magdalena Medio in Colombia

Thanks to generous Hands On supporters, people living in the Magdalena Medio region tired of being caught between government forces, guerrillas and paramilitaries have taken action.