The United Nations marks 2022 as this year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples under the theme “The Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge.” This theme recognizes how important and central women are in the longevity and survival of indigenous communities. Indigenous people living in Cambodia are 250,000 to 400,000 (51% of women), accounting for 2-3% of the Cambodian population. More than 155 indigenous communities have received official recognition from the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD).
On 09 August 2022, Cambodia Indigenous Peoples Alliance (CIPA), Cambodia Indigenous Women Association (CIWA), Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association (CIYA), Cambodia Indigenous Peoples Organization (CIPO), Highlanders Association Ratanakiri, Converse Indigenous Peoples Languages Organization (CIPL), Organization for the Promotion of Kui Culture (OPKC), Indigenous People for Agriculture Development in Cambodia (IADC), Indigenous Rights Active Members (IRAM), and MIPN, in collaborating with Klahaan, Women Peace Makers, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), and Open Development Cambodia (ODC) with the supports from United Nations Human Rights, VOICE, Diakonia, USAID, and FHI 360 celebrated the 18th International Day of the World’s Indigenous People in Cambodia. A total of 138 participants (approximately 90 females) joined the event.
The indigenous groups opened the celebration with the indigenous traditional prayer as well as displayed their traditional materials, clothing, and vegetables. The celebration also included a traditional Kui dance and singing. This event was not only commemorating the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples but also exhibiting indigenous peoples’ culture and beliefs.
Role of indigenous women in the preservation and transmission of traditional knowledge
In terms of culture and tradition, indigenous people have a strong relationship with natural resources, and women have knowledge of the land and natural resource conservation. The community offers their prayers to the woodland, forest, and mountain spirits. Women in the field must pass on the knowledge to the next generation to continue recognizing and protecting the forest. There must be a forest in the village, and it should be maintained to ensure food security as well as spiritual beliefs. Indigenous people teach the next generation about how the importance of forests. Currently, the livelihood of the indigenous people is not the same as before. If young indigenous people don’t involve with the elders, their land, forest, culture, livelihood, and language will be in a greater lost from generation to generation. The indigenous people’s agriculture is not destroying the forest as some say indigenous people cut the forest for agriculture. The forest loss is not the indigenous people’s fault; it is because of the development project that cleared the land. The community has been doing agriculture for many years before, but there is not any great forest loss.
Challenges of indigenous women on the land and forest protection
The indigenous people show their enthusiasm for protecting their land and forestry. They think that this is their obligation to protect the forest for their lives and their generation, who they love from the bottom of their heart. It is not only for the indigenous people but also for all Cambodian people. The front line of land and forest protectors are mostly women because most of the men only do their specific work. Although there are NGOs, CBOs, indigenous communities, etc., that support them, indigenous women still face several difficulties and problems. The family somehow does not encourage or support them to involve in those activities due to unexpected encounters with the company and government, which could harm them or the whole family. When there is a land dispute with the company, the communities might be hurt and get involved in the trial. The indigenous people claim that they receive injustice solutions or decisions from the court. For example, they could get into prison because they do the farming on their own land, where the land has been given to the company without their agreement. The local authorities do not act or find solutions for them, and they just keep silent. Therefore, the community has no choice. They could only pray to the spirits.
Women have an important role in indigenous societies, leading, managing, and protecting collective cultural identities, traditions, land, and natural resources for indigenous groups and communities. Indigenous women who take the lead in land and natural resource protection are frequently subjected to social threats, discrimination, and unfair legal application, which can result in lawsuits, imprisonment, family separation, poverty, a lack of personal security, and legal restrictions or prohibitions on land rights. CIPA, as the representative of all indigenous communities, calls on all indigenous women to continue their efforts to strengthen their capacity, network, and voice in all trends and mechanisms to ensure their full participation, leading, preserving, transferring traditional knowledge, and sustaining indigenous peoples’ development in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. CIPA also seeks direct help and support from national and international organizations, governments, and courts for indigenous women. Simultaneously, indigenous peoples press the Ministry of Justice and judges to strengthen law enforcement and acknowledge legal rights that protect indigenous peoples’ rights to ensure that they, as victims, receive a fair trial.
Open Development Cambodia (ODC) hosted a training on \"Data visualization and storytelling\" on December 20-21 and 26, 2022, with 24 participants, including journalists, citizen journalists, indigenous youth journalists, journalism students, and CSOs. People with disabilities and LGBTQIA+ are encouraged to join. This training was divided into two parts. The first stage was a two-day online training that included lessons and exercises. The second phase was a one-day physical training session focused on recapping the entire training and exercises. This training was funded by USAID Cambodia through FHI 360 as part of the Civil Society Support (CSS) Project\'s Cluster Anchor Grant. Day 01: Understanding data Before the session began, an ODC representative made a welcoming remark about the project and an introduction to help the attendees get to know one another. Following that, the participant spent time preparing for the pre-test, which was used to assess their capacity before the program began. Mr. Vong Pisith, the trainer, began the lesson on understanding data to provide insight into the importance of data, the different types of data and information, and the transparency of open data. After everyone understood the data well, the trainers demonstrated how to find it using the data portal and Google advanced search. The participants were then given an exercise by finding their needs data in PDF format and other natural resource data on the ODC portal. The trainer, Mr. BAN Chanphalla, then moved on to the next lesson on data standardization, which instructed the participants about data standards and how to format their data before diving into data visualization. The participants were introduced to the function of creating a new spreadsheet, adding sheets, making a copy, columns, and rows, inserting charts, filtering, and pivoting tables on google sheets, as well as importing comma-separated values (CSV) files into the spreadsheet and Microsoft Excel. The trainers also illustrated the data clean as a significant part of the data analysis. This lesson explained why we need to clean data and introduced them to a method for cleaning data to make it legible by introducing techniques such as trimming whitespace, removing duplicates, formatting text, splitting columns, data validation, and finding and replacing. Day 02: Data visualization On the second training day, the trainers took a few minutes to review the previous day\'s lesson before continuing with Mr. Sam An Mardy\'s agenda on data visualization principles. The trainer will introduce what motivated us to create the visualization, what exactly the data visualization is, how to tell a data-driven story, how to choose the right graph and chart type, and how to display it correctly. Mr. Vong Pisith then showed the participants a demonstration and examples of the Flourish. The participants then continue working on the group exercise to create the chart and graph with Flourish. Everyone took the post-test at the end of the second day and looked forward to the physical training on the third day. Day 03: Individual practice The agenda for the last day of training covered lesson reminiscence. Everyone attended the physical training and continued the lesson on data visualization with Flourish. The participants started learning how to make a map chart out of geographical data and how to incorporate those visualizations into the story. Then the participants were given the opportunity to practice it independently and complete the individual assignment by creating storytelling using data visualization. Finally, the trainees were asked to evaluate before closing remarks and provide the training certificates.
Charay indigenous community celebrates the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People in TangSe Mlue village
The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is very important to all indigenous peoples worldwide to celebrate all together and respect that day to make it a meaningful holiday for indigenous peoples. The day can be a day to review indigenous rights and freedom to decide to do something in their community. They get the right to access information, covenants, laws, and policies. Therefore, the indigenous community, with support from several stakeholders, celebrates the 29th International Day of Indigenous Peoples and the 19th in Cambodia on 9th August 2023, aiming to promote culture, traditions, language, beliefs, customs, dances, musical instruments, leadership, and community solidarity. Open Development Cambodia (ODC) partly supported the indigenous community through Conserve Indigenous Peoples Languages Organization (CIPL) to celebrate the 29th International Day of Indigenous Peoples and the 19th in Cambodia at TangSe Mlue village, Nhang commune, Andoung Meas district, Ratanakiri province, Cambodia. The event brought together 111 participants (35 women), most of whom are Charay indigenous peoples. There were representatives from local authorities and civil society organizations including, CIPL, Highlanders Association (HA), Indigenous Community Support Organization (ICSO), and Development and Partnership in Action (DPA). Most of the participants expressed their excitement and enthusiasm about what they celebrated and learned during the day. Ms. Klan Tem, an indigenous youth group, read the history of the International Day of Indigenous Peoples. According to the United Nations Report on Indigenous Peoples in the World, 476 million Indigenous peoples live in 90 countries, accounting for 6.2 percent of the world\'s population. According to the Cambodia Census 2013, there are 183,831 indigenous peoples (24 groups) in Cambodia\'s 15 provinces. They are linked to natural resources such as forests, water, and land. The majority of them are farmers who hunt animals and collect honey. They also collect non-timber forest products to supplement their income. Mr. Aem Dea, Angdong Meas district local authority, delivered the speech, encouraging the Charay indigenous community in TangSe Mlue village to protect their culture and land. He also mentioned indigenous communal land registration. Mr. Heam Som Orn, a local authority in Nhang commune, shares his enthusiasm for the event. He is proud of the community for gathering to celebrate the event. He hopes that indigenous peoples can safeguard their culture indefinitely. Finally, CIPL screened a video about the \"Effects of Flooding on Indigenous Peoples in Tangse Mlue Village,\" which was produced by indigenous youths, supported by CIPL and ODC through the Civil Society Support Activities: Cluster Anchor Grants funded by USAID through FHI360.
The second cluster convention was held on 19 December 2022, at the FHI 360 Office in Phnom Penh, with 25 participants (06 females). The convention brought together the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC), the Ministry of Interior (MoI), civil society organizations (CSOs), community-based organizations (CBOs), media groups, and representatives of indigenous people from Preah Vihear, Ratanakiri, and Mondulkiri provinces. Open Development Cambodia (ODC) hosted the convention, which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Family Health International (FHI 360) under Cluster Anchor Grant from the Civil Society Support (CSS) Project. ODC is the anchor and collaborates with three cluster members: CamboJA, the Conserve Indigenous Peoples Language Organization (CIPL), and Young Eco Ambassadors (YEA). The project aims to make natural resource management (NRM) more sustainable, inclusive, and participatory by incorporating Indigenous Peoples’ needs and concerns. ODC hosted an initial cluster convention on 13 September 2022 to involve all the cluster members and networks to build the networks, learn from each other, map the significant strategy, and step on further activity on the natural resource management (NRM) advocacy in Cambodia. In this convention, we will update the progress of the indigenous communal land titling in Cambodia, which is a curious and significant topic for today’s talk. The convention aims to: Create a friendly environment for networks to learn and share Keep current updates on the indigenous communal land titling in Cambodia Encourage cluster members and stakeholders to work together. The representative of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC) and the Ministry of Interior (MoI) shared the current update on the indigenous communal land titling. Currently, 152 indigenous communities have registered as legal entities with the MoI, while 94 communities have requested communal land titles from the MLMUPC. Due to various challenges and encounters, 26 of these communities were suspended. Some people may be interested in obtaining private land ownership to sell or in obtaining a micro-finance loan. In some cases, the requested land overlaps with natural protected areas and forest cover 2002 established by the Ministry of Environment (MoE) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). Currently, 38 indigenous communities in four provinces have received communal land titles totaling 39,342 hectares: Stung Treng (02 communities), Kratie (04 communities), Mondulkiri (07 communities), and Ratanakiri (25 communities). Two more communities are expected to receive communal land titles by January 2023. The convention also discussed the challenges of land titling. The participants had the chance to question ministries and ask for advice to solve their problems. The process of the land tiling is complicated and time-consuming. The land title sometimes cannot be issued and is suspended due to several challenges. Due to the limitations of the indigenous people\'s knowledge of the Khmer language, legislation, and registration procedures, they always find it difficult to obtain land titles without support from the CSOs and CBOs. In some cases, indigenous peoples are unaware of the benefits of communal land titles. Some community members may see the personal benefits as superior to the sharing and wish to withdraw from the community. It meant that they would like to have their private land title. The local authorities sometimes do not reluctant with the indigenous communities regarding the land titling procedures even though the ministries are trying to speed up the land registration. In many cases, the community refuses to accept the land that the government is willing to provide. After the participatory discussion, the indigenous community is encouraged to document the issues or problems with communal land titling and report them to the working group. ODC will continue to host the quarterly cluster convention with the cluster member and networks to share lessons learned, information, and prioritized issues on natural resource management, environment, forestry, land, indigenous peoples, the strategic environmental assessment (SEA), and environmental impact assessment (EIA).