Photo credit: Markus Hellborg
As the end of this eventful year is approaching rapidly, so are deadlines for many of the UNDP Cambodia’s projects and management. New projects with innovative approaches to address Cambodia’s most pressing challenges are being planned. Closing projects are finalising their deliverables and are undergoing their terminal evaluations, where we learn from the experiences of the project and apply those lessons to new projects. As a JPC with the Results-based Management Unit, I am spending a lot of my time facilitating these evaluations and assisting the UNDP’s institutional learning, so we improve as an organisation. Overseeing the evaluation processes provides a lot of insights into our activities in the country and the impact we have on its sustainable development.
Many of the projects relate to strengthening Cambodia and its peoples’ climate resilience, as well as ensuring a transition towards a more sustainable economy. Cambodia is highly vulnerable to climate change and climate variance as it relies on climate-sensitive sectors such as water resources and agriculture. It is regularly subject to floods, droughts, and other extreme weather events. Just over the past few weeks, there have been significant floods and extreme weather conditions in Phnom Penh, the country’s capital, and many other places in Cambodia. While all I notice from my desk in suburban Stockholm are delays in email correspondence and some interrupted Zoom meetings due to power outages in Phnom Penh, roughly 20 out of Cambodia’s 25 provinces have been affected, and over 792,000 people have been directly affected.
Helping with the evaluations of closing projects has provided some interesting insights into how the UNDP and the Government of Cambodia seek to address these kinds of issues. For instance, since 2016, the Cambodian Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology has sought to develop their collection of weather and climate data, with the assistance of the UNDP. The project has supported the installation of over 50 automatic weather and hydrology stations, strengthened the capacity to collect data used for forecasting and modelling, and the training of staff to carry out the forecasts. In turn, the project has helped in developing systems for quick dissemination of information in times of extreme weather conditions to the population.
Another project coming to an end has sought to reduce the vulnerability of Cambodian rural livelihoods. As climate change disproportionately impacts poorer communities, especially those who rely on subsistence agriculture and natural resources for their livelihoods, my colleagues work to address the issues that these communities are facing. Since 2016, the project has carried out investments in water management infrastructure, in addition to capacity building of local administrations for the planning, design, and execution of public services for resilience building. It also provided technical support in developing sustainable agricultural practices and irrigation systems, to ensure that minimal strain is put on the environment while improving production in these communities.
Seeing how the UNDP and its partners seek to address these issues is an incredible experience, and I learn so much every day. It is fascinating to see the whole process, from the project planning stages to the evaluations where we consistently learn and develop as an organisation. If you want to learn more about the projects we are working on to help Cambodia achieve the SDGs and improve the livelihoods of Cambodians, take a look at this website: https://www.kh.undp.org/content/cambodia/en/home/projects.html