In rural Cambodia, biogas helps offset the effects of climate change
Every morning at 10 a.m., Sok Sopheap sets off to run errands and pick up her two grandchildren from school in Tropang Thom village, southern Cambodia. Sopheap is in her 50’s – a stage in life when many women in her country might slow down – but like many local women, she is bearing an increasingly heavy burden as a result of climate change.
Like other villages in Takeo province, Tropang Thom has been in the grip of an oscillating water crisis. During some months, taps and waterways run dry, paddy fields whither and villagers must walk 15 to 20 kilometres to collect water; while at other times, the sudden onslaught of rain floods villages and washes crops away.
“The rice calendar no longer matches the weather calendar,” one villager laments, during a community consultation that Sopheap attended, with other villagers echoing the sentiment. Organized by UN Women and UN Environment, the consultation in Takeo came on the heels of a national-level consultation in Phnom Penh in September 2018 to better understand how climate change and natural disasters are affecting women and men differently, and how women can be a fountain of solutions for climate action.
Women like Sopheap are often the first movers to adopt new technology and knowledge in communities where resistance to change is high. Even among older women like her, there is a growing acceptance of new solutions and increasing awareness of their ability to lead change. Many are even leveraging their personal networks to help deal with the impacts of climate change, using social media or face-to-face contact to warn each other of climate disasters and to access information faster.
To ensure that gender equality and human rights are at the heart of climate action and disaster risk reduction, UN Women and UN Environment are jointly implementing the “EmPower: Women for Climate-Resilient Societies” project with the support of the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency. The consultations helped lay the foundation for the project, which will run from 2018-2022 in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Viet Nam and regionally in Asia-Pacific. It seeks to ensure that women can participate in climate policy decisions, leverage both traditional knowledge as well as sex-age-diversity disaggregated data for decisions, influence climate and disaster policies and access more resilient livelihoods through renewable energy.