800-Year-Old Dam Cleared in Preh Nor


It is hard to believe that the families of Bossalla and Kroa Boa who 5 years ago were in a terrible state, relying on 18 months of emergency food assistance from World of Difference, are now living a sustainable life by extensively farming their land, farming cows, chickens and pigs with many earning enough money not only to feed themselves nutritious food, they have been able to purchase walking tractors, scooters and build themselves new houses.

Most pleasing is that many of the men who use to live away from home working illegally in Thailand are now living with their families. This large-scale pilot project is now complete, and the Rotary Club of Brighton who - along with other clubs in District 9800 - partnered with World of Difference on the Bossalla and Kroa Boa project, have moved onto the next project, securing a Global Grant to deliver a similar project in Preh Nor, a community of just over 4,000 people, that is situated in the Siem Reap Province, in North-West Cambodia.

The project that has been aptly named Sustainable Communities Cambodia will build on the achievements and learnings from our work in Bossalla and Kroa Boa, a significant aspect being the provision of aid on a micro finance basis at both a community and a farmer group level.

The first part of this 4-year project was providing a community loan to clear a large 800-year-old dam that had become heavily silted and overgrown. Being a religious dam, Rithy firstly needed to gain approval from the spirits that reside over the dam, assuring the spirits that the clearing of the dam was for the benefit of the community at large and not for commercial gain of an individual. For the first time in many decades, the spirits agreed and the dam has been successfully cleared.

The restored dam will provide clean drinking water to the community, water for agriculture and a commercial fish farm, with the proceeds generated through the sale of the fish being invested back into the community as well as paying down the community finance loan. Microfinance loans will also be provided to family groups– 4 to 5 families – who want to start farming cattle, pigs, bamboo or crops. The income generated from their farming activities will be used to pay down their micro finance loans as well as provide vital income to the families within the family groups.

Dam site in progress

As illustrated in the photos above and across you will see photos of the dam before, during and after clearing. Chairman Rob Hines recently visited the dam and was delighted with how much water the dam is holding so soon after it had been cleared. There is also a photo of a new statue of Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god who is worshiped as a symbol of physical strength, perseverance and devotion. Hanuman looks out over the cleared dam.

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