People Living with Disabilities Speak Up
Mr. Hul Soeun, chief of the Boeung Char commune in Kratie’s Sambor district briefs community people, NGOs workers and local authorities on the livelihood issues related to people living with disabilities, and on fishery and dams. Photo: Seiha Tiep/Oxfam
People living with Disabilities (PWD) used to be given less opportunity to speak up in meetings due to either their shyness, or because the organizers seemed to forget to involve them in any activities, said Mrs. Thae Kham khorn, a farmer who depends on the Sekong River.
However, it is changed now, thanks to Oxfam’s Inclusion project and concerned advocacy partners.
All the participants in the meeting encouraged PWD to share their opinions and issues related to their livelihoods and the impact of dams, said Kham khorn.
246 persons with disabilities (115 females) live in Sesan district. Luy Ly, a chief of the Disabled People’s Organisation in Stung Treng, said that many of PWD depend on the river for their livelihoods and continue to suffer due to lost rice production, drowned livestock, loss of fishing income, and damage to rice reserves, boats, fishing gear and houses, resulting of rapid fluctuations in the river water level.
Mr. Chhon Sovanndeth walks with his stick over a distance of 30 meters from the river bank, without wanting support from others. Photo: Seiha Tiep/Oxfam
“We are not informed on massive water releases and we rarely faced such problem before. I am afraid of that. People living with disabilities like me and others are struggling to survive on the river. I heard that a dam was built on the upstream river, the Yali Falls Dam in Vietnam. Maybe more dams will be built and I don’t know what is going to happen to us in the future” said Luy Ly.
“The voices and concerns of people living with disabilities who rely on the river for their livelihoods are missing in the development plans. They are losing the benefits they used to have and are not benefitting from the new projects”, said Kry Solany, team leader of My Village (MVi) organization in Stung Treng province.
Mr. Sam Sovann, executing director of Northeastern Rural Development organization explains about the geography of the Mekong River in Kratie province to staff from Oxfam and Cambodia Disabled People's Organization during a visit to Boeung Char commune. Photo: Seiha Tiep/Oxfam
With funding support from DFAT through Oxfam’s Inclusion Project, it enabled partners MVi and Northeastern Rural Development organization to develop Disability Inclusion policy with technical supporting from Cambodia Disabled People’s Organization.
The policy will be approved in 2017 to promote the rights of people living with disabilities to equally benefit from the natural resources without discrimination.
“Before, in Boeun Char commune we knew about the issues of people living with disabilities but did not give it as much thought as we should. Now, the Inclusion project has helped us to hear their voices and to prioritise their issues in our commune investment plan,” said Hul Soeun, chief of the Boeung Char commune in Kratie’s Sambor district.