In Cambodia, student gardeners get hands-on lessons in climate adaptation - March 2015


Just one month after vegetable seeds were provided to the school director and teachers, Kok Srolao Primary School compound is now lush and green. Packing rice from home, some students and teachers come to school in the early morning to make breakfast with vegetables grown in the schoolyard.

“I’m happy seeing the green vegetable at the compound, the smile of the students, the improvement of their knowledge and skills,” school director Sorn Bundin said.

A solar pump built in late 2014 benefits 271 students and teachers at the school as well as 8 households nearby. It was built to improve access to water and for use as a learning site to better educate students on climate change impacts and adaptation. It also exposes students with practical experiments in Integrated Farming Systems.

School director Bundin said the 1800 square meter garden of the school compound is divided into 5 plots for students from grade 3 to grade 6 and those in English class. Each group visits their location in the morning before class starts, during break time and in the evening to tend to their vegetable and water them. This is also part of the school’s life skill development.

“It’s important to integrate climate change adaptation into school activities to help the students who are our next generation to understand climate change adaptation and at least be ready to adapt themselves through various activities such the integrated farming system,” said Hok Kimthourn, National Project Manager of the Project Support Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The Ministry has been implementing the project on Promoting Climate Change Adaptation in Agriculture and Water since September 2010, with funding from the government of Canada, the Global Environment Facility, UNDP and in-kind contributions from the Royal Government of Cambodia.

In 2014, two community ponds, 35 solar pump systems and 15 pump wells were built in 37 villages. They supply water to 1,481 households; 61% of beneficiaries are female. 

At Kok Srolao School, the students grow about 10 types of vegetables such as morning glory, yard long bean, cucumber, a few types of cabbages and amaranth.

According to Bundin, vegetable yield has triple with the introduction of the solar pump infrastructure. What’s left over after breakfast is shared among the students. Some of them take it home, while others sell their remaining vegetables to the market.

“The money from selling those vegetable was not much [US$2.5 for each group] but they were happy getting the vegetables and got some money to buy school materials and give to their parents,” said Bundin.

In the months ahead, the school is looking forward to growing some longer shelf life vegetables, including eggplant and chili, which can be stored until the rainy season.

 

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In mid-Feb, the garden was full of various types of vegetable. Photo by: Naratevy Kek/UNDP Cambodia