Land, Water and Life

Photo and text by: Socheata Sim

The connection between land, water, and the way of life of indigenous people is very strong. This connection has been emphasized at a recent inception workshop held in Phnom Penh among indigenous people organisations working in Cambodia, Vietnam and the Asia Indigenous People Pact (AIPP).

This inception workshop paved the way for the beginning of “Strengthening and empowering Indigenous women and men to assert their rights in water governance in Cambodia and Vietnam” project, part of the wider Oxfam Inclusion Project.

Since indigenous people’s way of life heavily relies on access to and control of resources in the forest and river, the economic development activities in these countries particularly damages indigenous communities and further exacerbates the violation of rights to access to resources Indigenous communities should be granted.

Evidence from Cambodia and other countries in the regions show that indigenous communities are among the most vulnerable population affected by economic development projects such as economic land concession, mining, or hydropower project for electricity. The case of Lower Sesan 2 hydropower project is an example where relocation of thousands of affected families due to dam reservoir affects indigenous people.

In the two-year project, AIPP and its will conduct participatory research on key water governance issues faced by Indigenous women and men living along Mekong river basin in Northeast Cambodia and Red River in North Vietnam. The project aims to support indigenous led initiatives for space of dialogue at the national and sub-national levels to bring forth key demands specific to Indigenous communities.