Promoting Climate-Resilient Water Management and Agricultural Practices in Rural Cambodia


The impacts of climate change on Cambodian agriculture, particularly on rice cultivation, are predicted to adversely affect food production and security in rural areas. There is emerging evidence that agriculture-based livelihoods and overall food security in Cambodia are affected by increased frequency and severity of floods, dry spells and drought events.

The project Promoting Climate-Resilient Water Management and Agricultural Practices in Rural Cambodia (2009- 2016) was based on priority interventions focusing on climate change-resilient agricultural water management. 

The project worked with the Department of Agriculture Land Management of the General Directorate of Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) to undertake soil assessment and soil/crop analysis. The result was a recommendation of appropriate resilient options based on soil types, crop suitability and the forecasted climatic information. In 2014, about 18,019 households in 80 villages received useful weather information.

To improve access to water for cropping and other domestic purposes, the project built 2 community ponds, 35 solar pump systems (20 in Kratie and 15 in Preah Vihear) and 15 pump wells (in Preah Vihear) over 37 villages. It benefited 1,481 households and 52 Water User Groups were established to manage these new infrastructures. The project reached 3,394 households in 65 villages cross both provinces to implement Integrated Farming Systems (IFS), with technical support from the Department of Agriculture.

Source: Cambodia UNDP Project Document (April 28, 2009) and Project Update - Key Results in 2014

Project details

This project is based on priority interventions outlined in the Cambodian NAPA and focuses on climate change-resilient agricultural water management. The impacts of climate change on Cambodian agriculture, particularly on rice cultivation, are predicted to adversely affect food production and –security in rural areas. At present, there is emerging evidence that agriculture based livelihoods and overall food security in Cambodia are affected by increased frequency and severity of floods, dry spells and drought events. Various climate models depict different trends in annual precipitation, with some predicting substantial increases in total precipitation (i.e. more intensive rainfall events following after longer dry spells), and some predicting a rise, followed by a fall.  Such dynamic climate trends do not find appropriate reflection in the government's planning and decision-making processes, which is mainly due to the fact that climate change challenges in Cambodia are predominantly addressed through post-disaster relief operations after extreme weather events.

A major constraint in moving from a focus on post-disaster relief management to anticipatory agricultural and water resources planning is the limited institutional and individual capacity in both government agencies and community organizations to understand potential climate change impacts and to internalize a perspective of longer-term resilience and preparedness into sectoral policy and development planning processes. Although Cambodia is currently implementing a number of programmes and projects that strengthen capacity for development planning in general terms, these activities aim to strengthen the governance system under current climatic conditions and do not analyze long-term resilience and/or vulnerability of these development interventions with regards to changing environmental and climatic conditions.

This is especially critical in the water resources and agriculture sector, where the majority of donor-supported projects focus on the rehabilitation of reservoirs and irrigation channels and on the extension of irrigation to larger areas. Although many of these projects take an integrated approach, they largely ignore information provided by climate change models and scenarios, which in turn put the outputs of these projects at risk. Reservoirs and irrigation channels designed for current rainfall patterns are e.g. not designed to handle predicted larger peak flows, which is likely to result in physical damage to infrastructure and reduction of the overall areas under irrigation. Other projects aim at an improvement of agricultural productivity, for example, through promoting the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in many areas. While productivity under current climatic conditions can be dramatically improved, specific elements of the SRI system may not be appropriate under changed climatic conditions, and indeed some of the innovations being proposed under SRI may compromise long-term crop yields.  The planting of rice seedlings at wider spacing may e.g. increase vulnerability to soil erosion, especially if more intense rainfall events are experienced earlier in the rainy season.

The project will cover the additional activities required to ensure that projects and programmes aimed at capacity building of relevant government institutions in Cambodia take future climate change impacts into account. Part of the requested LDCF funding will be used to increase the adaptive capacity of key national and sub-national institutions, especially provincial and district departments of agriculture and water resources and meteorology, commune councils, and farmer water-use committees, and ensure that they are able to efficiently design, monitor and manage climate-resilient water resource management and rural development projects. The project will develop expertise of district agricultural extension teams in the management of climate risks with respect to water management, and train Commune Councils and Planning and Budgeting Committees (PBCs) in two target districts in climate risk management approaches. In addition, key stakeholders at the community level (including religious leaders and indigenous elders) in both districts will be involved and actively enabled to support community-based adaptation planning processes.

The project will demonstrate climate-resilient rainwater harvesting techniques at both the household and village level. By diversifying the sources of water used for different purposes (agriculture, sanitation and consumption), overall access to water resources in changing climatic conditions will be improved, as will conditons for human health. Other demonstrations of community-based adaptation options will address climate-risk resilient conservation and management of fish stocks, adapting the technical elements of SRI, introducing modifications such as inter-cropping and mutliple variety cultivation to reduce the potential for soil erosion, and promoting the maintenance of higher levels of genetic diversity within crops so as to maintain the capacity to adapt to future climatic conditions through participatory breeding. The project will replicate experiences from the target districts in other parts of the country and incorporate a significant learning component in its project design, using monitoring and evaluation good practices. Rigorous evaluation will enable the project proponents and UNDP to measure progress in this project and learn how to strengthen its adaptation portfolio in the agricultural sector. The UNDP's Adaptation Learning Mechanism (ALM) will facilitate this learning process.

Source: Cambodia UNDP Project Document (April 28, 2009)
Thematic areas: 
Climate-related hazards addressed: 
Level of intervention: 
Primary beneficiaries: 
5,500 households in the target Areas: Choam Ksan and Kulen district (Preah Vihear), Chetr Borey and Sambo district (Kratie).
Implementing agencies and partnering organizations: 
Government of Cambodia
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Government of Canada
Project status: 
Financing amount: 
Co-financing total: 

Key results and outputs

  • Outcome 1: Improved capacity within local institutions to manage agricultural water resources in a changing climate
    • Output 1.1: Commune Council plans and budgets address inherent climate risks in target districts
    • Output 1.2: FWUCs and MOWRAM engineers trained in climate-resilient irrigation design 
    • Output 1.3: Conflict potential in areas prone to climate-induced water shortages assessed and conflict prevention measures supported
    • Output 1.4: A community-based climate information system on flooding and drought events is established
  • Outcome 2: Locally appropriate adaptation options demonstrated to reduce exposure to climate change induced risks
    • Output 2.1: Improved rainwater harvesting demonstrated in 30 target villages
    • Output 2.2: Resilient farming methods to climate-induced changes in rainfall intensity and distribution demonstrated
    • Output 2.3: Resilient design and management of reservoirs, irrigation canals, ponds and dykes demonstrated
  • Outcome 3:  Lessons learned in project pilot sites replicated in other vulnerable areas of Cambodia
    • Output 3.1: Increased public awareness and environmental education programmes on climate risk reduction designed and implemented
    • Output 3.2: Learning networks for climate-resilient farming practices established
    • Output 3.3: Media supported (TV, radio) dissemination of project lessons
    • Output 3.4: Review of national policies on climate change adaptation based on lessons generated by the project
    • Output 3.5: Experiences generated contriute to the Adaptation Learning Mechanism (ALM)

Source: Cambodia UNDP Project Document (April 28, 2009)

Reports and publications

Project Brief / Fact Sheet
Case Study
Training & Tools
Reports and Publications by country teams
Assessments and Background Documents
News article
Relevant Peer-Reviewed Articles


Dispatches from the Front Lines of Climate Change

Feature story of two women's lives in Myanmar and Cambodia. 

Cambodian villagers go solar in getting water

The video showcases the use of solar energy to get water to benefit people in Kratie province.

Building Resilient Communities in Cambodia

The video presents the impacts of a climate change adaptation project called NAPA Follow-Up on beneficiaries living in the climate change-prone areas.

UNDP Cambodia World Environment Day Campaign

Cambodian comedians deliver climate change awareness messages through performing art known as Ayai. The performance was part of a campaign held in Choam Ksan district, Preah Vihear province, to mark World Environment Day on June 5, 2011.

Bos Leav Commune Welcome New Water Filters

285 water filters were recently distributed to vulnerable households in Bos Leav commune, Kracheh province as part of a UNDP and GEF funded project, Promoting Climate Resilient Water Management and Agricultural Practices in Rural Cambodia (NAPA Follow-up project).

Cambodian villagers go solar in getting water

The video showcases the use of solar energy to get water to benefit people in Kracheh province, Cambodia. 

Climate Change Adaptation in Cambodia

This video is to show activities and results of a climate change adaptation project in two provinces of Cambodia.   

Monitoring and evaluation

Project Start:

  • Project Inception Workshop: will be held within the first 2 months of project start with those with assigned roles in the project organization structure, UNDP country office and where appropriate/feasible regional technical policy and programme advisors as well as other stakeholders.  The Inception Workshop is crucial to building ownership for the project results and to plan the first year annual work plan. 


  • Day to day monitoring of implementation progress: will be the responsibility of the Project Manager, based on the project's Annual Work Plan and its indicators, with overall guidance from the Project Director. The Project Team will inform the UNDP-CO of any delays or difficulties faced during implementation so that the appropriate support or corrective measures can be adopted in a timely and remedial fashion.


  • Project Progress Reports (PPR): quarterly reports will be assembled based on the information recorded and monitored in the UNDP Enhanced Results Based Management Platform. Risk analysis will be logged and regularly updated in ATLAS.


  • Annual Project Review/Project Implementation Reports (APR/PIR): This key report is prepared to monitor progress made since project start and in particular for the previous reporting period (30 June to 1 July).  The APR/PIR combines both UNDP and GEF reporting requirements.  

Periodic Monitoring through Site Visits:

  • UNDP CO and the UNDP RCU will conduct visits to project sites based on the agreed schedule in the project's Inception Report/Annual Work Plan to assess first hand project progress.  Other members of the Project Board may also join these visits.  A Field Visit Report/BTOR will be prepared by the CO and UNDP RCU and will be circulated no less than one month after the visit to the project team and Project Board members.

Mid-Term of Project Cycle:

  • Mid-Term Evaluation: will determine progress being made toward the achievement of outcomes and will identify course correction if needed.  It will focus on the effectiveness, efficiency and timeliness of project implementation; will highlight issues requiring decisions and actions; and will present initial lessons learned about project design, implementation and management.  Findings of this review will be incorporated as recommendations for enhanced implementation during the final half of the project’s term.  

End of Project:

  • Final Evaluation: will take place three months prior to the final Project Board meeting and will be undertaken in accordance with UNDP and GEF guidance.  The final evaluation will focus on the delivery of the project’s results as initially planned (and as corrected after the mid-term evaluation, if any such correction took place).  The final evaluation will look at impact and sustainability of results, including the contribution to capacity development and the achievement of global environmental benefits/goals.  The Terminal Evaluation should also provide recommendations for follow-up activities.
  • Project Terminal Report: This comprehensive report will summarize the results achieved (objectives, outcomes, outputs), lessons learned, problems met and areas where results may not have been achieved.  It will also lie out recommendations for any further steps that may need to be taken to ensure sustainability and replicability of the project’s results.

Learning and Knowledge Sharing:

  • Results from the project will be disseminated within and beyond the project intervention zone through existing information sharing networks and forums. 
  • The project will identify and participate, as relevant and appropriate, in scientific, policy-based and/or any other networks, which may be of benefit to project implementation though lessons learned. The project will identify, analyze, and share lessons learned that might be beneficial in the design and implementation of similar future projects.
  • Finally, there will be a two-way flow of information between this project and other projects of a similar focus. 

Source: Cambodia UNDP Project Document (April 28, 2009)


Ratana Norng
Programme Analyst
Yusuke Taishi
Regional Technical Advisor

A community-based climate information system on floods and drought events established