Today is La’s farewell after his 25 years with Oxfam to help improve the livelihoods of communities he worked with.
La Chhuon started his work with Oxfam in 1993 when he was a counterpart working for the Provincial Department of Hydrology on small-scale irrigation project in Takeo province.
La is a farmer himself and has remained so throughout all the changes in the region and his nearly 25 years with Oxfam and this seems to ‘root’ him in what is important for communities in the region- team members past and present have also benefitted from his organic mangoes.
The work La and colleagues did in the province helped to establish and shape the program in Cambodia for Oxfam. They went out and listened to the community for nearly a year and identified what communities - and often local government - most wanted and needed, and planned it with them. This work led to the expansion of the program in areas where no one was working at that time. The program gradually shifted to community development: drinking water; income generation for women; small gardens, horticulture and a broad range of activities.
La helped set up a fisheries program that has continued to this day as illustrated by him conducting a radio phone-in last week with government partners on recent research Oxfam has supported to assess the impact on fisheries of an upstream dam.
As work developed on water governance, La embraced this new direction to find ways to promote social accountability and bring community members to the table when decisions are being made on large projects and he helped develop the regional program from 2012.
La has a technical and government background but has always been driven by a commitment to hear and support community priorities. He has co-authored Oxfam publications on the impacts on livelihoods of changes in the river systems in the region.
“La is highly respected throughout the government and development sector in Cambodia and the region and he is a true champion for Oxfam’s core values,” said Pauline Taylor McKeown, Oxfam Mekong Regional Water Governance Program Manager. “He listens rather than speaks, reflects and is very humble but he is also always creative and keen to develop new approaches to support communities and influence how decisions are made,” Pauline added.
La said, “Managers and the team are very supportive. They valued my ideas and put it into the organization plan.”
La finished his work with Oxfam but he has not yet finished his mission to help poor communities.
“I will be working with government projects to learn, share and gain new working cultures and build more networks in water sectors,” said La.
La and colleagues during the retreat in Tatai, Koh Kong province, 2017. Photo: Seiha Tiep/Oxfam.
Click HERE to view La's 3min video profile
Below is a video of the talk show at TVK in March which La join as guest speaker sharing about the result of the recent science research on ‘The Potential Impacts of Water Infrastructure Development on Fish Spawning Habitat in Cambodia’.
“La is highly respected throughout the government and development sector in Cambodia and the region and he is a true champion for Oxfam’s core values.”