Mondulkiri is the largest province in Cambodia, with the lowest number of inhabitants. The land size of Mondulkiri is 14,682 square kilometers. As of 2001 the total population was 40,181. The province is located in the Northeast region of the country bordered on the north by Ratanakiri province, to the northwest by Steung Treng province, to the west by Kratie province, and to the east by Vietnam. There are 5 districts in the province, 21 communes, and 95 villages (see map). In the districts of Keo Seima and Kaoh Nheak, where wetland rice cultivation is possible, there are large populations of Khmer people.
Pnong is one of many indigenous people living in this area. Forest and streams are their natural resources for a very long time. These natural resources have provided them a full and peaceful life according to their indigenous culture and tradition. Indigenous people (IP) usually use customary tools for hunting for family consumption. They have not violated the environment because they believe that forest or big trees are habitat for spirit. Non timber forest product such as rattan, vine, wild vegetable, and wild fruit are resources which are important for their livelihoods. Liquid resin is collected from two kinds of tree (Cheuteal and Trach). Every year they usually organize several ceremonies to pray to the spirit. A small pig or other animal is killed as a sacrifice to the spirit.
Srae Preah commune in Keo Seima district is inhabited by a majority of poor indigenous Phnong people who are undergoing rapid change. The commune is near the gateway to the province from Phnom Penh and Khmer influence in house construction and the cultivation of wetland rice is already evident. There are also large markets nearby. The commune has a large forested area but the operations of a logging company threaten its sustainable use. Srae Preach is accessible from the provincial town although the roads within the commune are poor.
DPA’s intervention in Srae Preah commune of Keo Seima district in Mondulikiri province began since May 2004. The first pilot project started in two villages (Pou Kong and O’Chra) of Srae Preah commune Keo Seima district by supporting communities to implement natural resource management and well construction. In the pilot year, the community forestry committee and well maintenance committees were established by endorsing the existing solidarity groups that formed since socialist country.
On the basis of a project proposal submitted in April 2004, the project continued its first phase from May 2005 to December 2007. The first phase is being built on the achievements of the pilot year and it is also guided by the strategic objectives contained in DPA’s Country Policy Document 2003-2005 which emerged out of internal assessments and discussions. The project has been supporting communities to implement community forestry and participatory land use planning of indigenous people. The initiatives in the first phase combined capacity building at village, improvement of nutrition of indigenous people and basic health education, especially STD/HIV/AIDS.
In addition, in the first phase, VDCs were established in five villages of Srae Preah commune. They are primarily responsible for coordinating development activities within the community, for linking with outside development agencies, are also instrumental in mobilizing local resources, and work closely with the community forestry and well maintenance committees.