Oxfam Cambodia has launched a new campaign, “Along the Mekong River with Sai”, to promote the importance of the river. Celebrity environment activist Uon Pakthom, a Cambodian singer and performer better known as Sai, was chosen by Oxfam as a Goodwill Ambassador to lead the campaign.
Sai – who first made headlines when he began the “Run for Charity with Sai” to garner donations for the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap province by running on roads throughout the country – hopes the campaign will bring many benefits to the people along the river, especially by increasing the number of visitors.
The campaign began on March 10 and will continue until late March, during which Sai and his team will travel through three provinces – Ratanakkiri, Stung Treng and Kratie – to meet members of the communities along the river and take photographs.
Kaneka Keo, project manager of Oxfam’s Inclusion Project II, told The Post on March 20 that during the first 10 days of the campaign, the team had achieved significant results, because it linked meaningful participation and dialogue between youth and affected communities – especially vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities and indigenous people who are the main targets of the project.
Kaneka added that the campaign provided an opportunity for the general public to learn more about the potential of the Mekong River and its beauty, through several lesser-known eco-tourism sites.
She said they also addressed the fate of the Mekong – by listening to the concerns of the people living along the river about development and its impact on their lives, as well as raising their awareness of the importance of conserving the river. It was hoped more local communities would actively participate in the decision-making process to promote inclusive water governance
“This campaign was attended by a delegation from the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh who learned about the livelihoods and social and cultural activities of the people along the river in Kratie province’s Sambor district,” she said.
She said the campaign was not over yet, because after the boat trip to the three provinces, the team will hold a press conference and public discussions with Sai. Affected communities and relevant institutions were also invited to share their ideas and initiatives for the future of the Mekong.
“This press conference will be held in mid-April and will also be the day we announce the release of three videos capturing Sai’s journey along the Mekong. We will also hold a photography exhibition dubbed ‘Faces of the Mekong People,’” she added.
Sai told The Post on March 20 that the river is very important for the livelihoods – and also the primary source of food – of the people. The campaign was an initiative that raised awareness of the Mekong’s rich resources, and he thoroughly enjoyed carrying out the project.
He expected that the campaign will attract more tourists, who will visit the recreational areas along the Mekong River in support of the livelihoods of the people living there.
“I have also called upon the people along the river to stop fishing illegally in restricted areas or using illegal techniques such as fish electrocution devices, so as not to affect the bounty of the river. We want to see everyone respect the fisheries laws,” he said.