For farmers already living in poverty, increasingly unpredictable weather patterns are yet another burden to bear. This is certainly the case with Preap Tee and her community in Cambodia. Having struggled for years to provide enough food for her three children on their small farm, the increasingly unpredictable weather has made their situation even more precarious.
"When I was younger it wasn’t as dry as it is now. Today there is very little rain. It makes the seasons less predictable. It makes it harder to farm."
Preap Tee’s story isn’t an isolated one. Again and again the farmers here speak of how the climate is changing and how the rains ‘don’t come like they once did’. When we look at the research, it’s easy to see why. The Global Climate Risk index, examines, through a range of metrics, the countries that suffer most from extreme weather-related events. Of the ten most affected countries (1994–2013), nine were developing countries in the low income or lower-middle income country group, with the Philippines, Cambodia and India the most affected countries. Preap Tee’s story is the human face of these numbers. What they tell us is the massive impact climate change is already having on farmers who for generations have depended reliably on rains to irrigate their rice crops.
It was into this situation that TEAR’s Cambodian partner PNKS began working with farmers in this community a few years ago. What has been achieved through the support and training of PNKS staff is a remarkable story of hope and adaptation for the future. As Preap Tee shares with us in the video, her story of overcoming crop failure to establish a flourishing agriculture business is truly inspiring. She recalls that ‘Once, the family depended on their rice field for food and income however a lack of reliable rain forced her family and many others to borrow money at high interest rates. They tried using genetically modified seeds and chemicals, but this food ‘made the family sick’, she reported’.
Together with the support of others in the community and PNKS, this new caring, supportive community enabled Preap Tee to dramatically improve the yield from her land without using chemicals, despite the lack of rain. “We now have fishponds, chickens, pigs, a vegetable garden and can collect our own seeds for planting next season. We not only have enough food for ourselves, but I now sell my vegetables at the local market place. They are very popular because people are tired of buying vegetables that are filled with harmful chemicals.” In reflecting further on what she has learnt and what she seeks to share with others, Preap Tee says;
"As we are learning more and more, everything is connected. From the land and the way we care for it, from the oceans and to the sky. We each play a part in caring for our planet and each other."