Indigenous communities have traditionally relied on activities such as farming, hunting or foraging for their livelihoods, but times are changing with technology and gradual development, impacting their way of life.
The natural resources that the community used to depend on have become more and more scarce and the occupations attached to them are no longer possible to pursue. Thus, indigenous people in many cases have had to find new jobs that can support their families and the most successful are those who have been able to adapt to the flexibility of society.
The Ministry of Environment has taken an active hand in many indigenous communities as they often live within or adjacent to the areas under its jurisdiction. It does so in order to help develop new and alternative career options for them to ensure their ability to adapt to the new era.
Chea Chantha from the Kuy community in Sandan district of Kampong Thom province said he was pleased with the efforts of the provincial environment department in helping support training in the community, including in traditional music.
“In the past, we only lived according to our traditions inherited from our ancestors, but today it is not like that. Our community has tried to adapt to how Cambodian people live in order to work as they do,” Chantha said.
He said that recently, his community received a training course in classical music and sponsorship to purchase musical instruments.
“Our community has asked to receive long-term training in traditional music because we want to know how to use it as a skill, while on the other hand we also want to keep our culture from disappearing entirely even though some traditions have changed,” Chantha said.
According to Chantha, most of the people in his community are now engaged in farming and planting crops or working for other farmers when their crops are ready to be harvested. Most of them, he said, are able to have a comfortable life similar to other Cambodian people.
The ministry said these skill training activities are a strong support mechanism to help develop the capacity of people living in and near protected areas. The training of these skills responds to the market needs of today’s society and builds closer ties between communities and development partners.
According to the ministry, there are 190 protected area communities in Kampong Thom province – but only a few are indigenous or ethnic minorities. A total of 170 of them are involved in organised community protection efforts in their area.