Prek Chrey Community for Development (PCD)
It started in 2007 with 24 villagers of the Khmer community in Prek Chrey who wanted to improve their conditions of living. Now in 2010, the number of members grew up to 42, representing 42 families.
Goals of this creation was to help them achieve their own objectives in a way that
- lets the members explore the rules of democracy in the functioning of their group (only one member per family is entitled to vote but everybody may participate)
- helps the group establish a confident and transparent relationship with the local authorities
- gives participants self-confidence about their capacities, especially when dealing with their Vietnamese counterparts
- lets the community get familiar with environmental issues
- last not least, wakes awareness about gender issues and women's rights in the community.
In 2008, PCD members established the rules of functioning of their organisation with 3 main activities:
- a Cow Bank to secure long term needs of the PCD members
- a Saving Group to meet as well their short as long term needs and
- a Rice Bank for the short and middle term needs of the PCD farmers.
The safe with three locks: three members have the key
and need to meet
together before opening the safe.
The Cow Bank started with 7 cows in December 2008, thanks to the support of the WIG (Women International Group). Main rules are
- the 21 families wanting to participate organise themselves in 7 groups of 3 families each in order to receive the 7 young cows
- the 3 families decide who is first, second and third beneficiary
- the 7 first beneficiaries pay a 25$ contribution to the community
- one year after the first calf is born, it will be given to the 2nd beneficiary, who will pay a 25$ contribution to the community and then follow the same rule as the 1st beneficiary does
- when the 2nd calf is born, the beneficiary keeps it after having paid a 15$ contribution to the community
- when the 3rd calf is born, it becomes after 1 year the property of the community that sell it or give it to a new group of 3 beneficiaries
- after that, the cow with its future issue is the full property of the beneficiary
Thanks to the special support of the WIG, the beneficiaries own now seven cows: here are three of them, and the first born calf. Moreover a second calf is born on 7 July 2010
Benefit of the Cow Bank is not only economical, but it also contributes to a change of mentality among the members as it makes donors out of the beneficiaries. After years of expecting help from outside, they discover their own capacity to support others in turn. Their self-esteem grows considerably, allowing them to become responsible members of the society.
Self-esteem is also the precondition for a fruitful dialogue with the members of the Vietnamese community and contributes so to a peaceful, constructive relationship.
The Saving Group started in the beginning of 2009 involving the 24 members of PCD.
Duty is to save monthly 1$ per family.
After about one year, the Saving Group decided to allow members to borrow small amounts of money for their small business or farming. Conditions are to bring a payback guarantee through 3 members and to pay 3% monthly interest to the Saving Group. This is cheaper than the rate practiced by the local moneylenders. The usual loan duration is up to 4 months, as it is the time needed by farmers for a crop. All loans must be paid back at the latest after 5 months.
The members of Prek Chrey Community for Development collect
money to finance their activities.
The Saving Group grew to a success. Today in 2010, mainly because they are attracted by the opportunities offered in the Saving Group, the number of members in PCD totalises 42 families, a 75% increase.
A particular side effect of this success is to mention:
Generally, the Khmer feel respect for the achievements of the Vietnamese neighbour, who in turn do not feel similar to them. Now however, the Vietnamese heard about the success of the PCD in their Saving Group and asked them to teach them how to start their own saving group. KCD may hope now for two outcomes from this situation:
- As already expected as an outcome of the Cow Bank, the self-esteem of the Khmer increases
- The dialogue between Khmer and Vietnamese may start through a natural way of exchange of skills.
Meeting with the community and the local authorities in the sala chan from Prek Chrey pagoda
The Rice Bank did not start yet.
For the time being, the PCD and KCD are looking for financial support to achieve the building.
The establishment of the Rice Bank will enable the PCD to meet its middle term needs concerning food security.
Due to drought, storm, flood, mice, insects, humidity, etc. farmers of the commune sometimes run out of rice and need to buy new seed. Since their financial means are limited, they are often forced to borrow money from a moneylender at a high interest rate in order to buy extra rice (the amount the Saving Group may lend them for the time being is not enough to cover those needs).
Experience in Cambodia has shown that the establishment of a rice bank is an effective method of allowing villagers to save rice together and borrow rice when needed to an affordable rate. As a result, the rice bank may provide security against misfortune and a source of revenue for the community.
For the time being, thanks to a donation from French and German private individuals, KCD bought a 100-sqm ground in the middle of Inner-Prek-Chrey-Village on which the Rice Bank shall be built. It will include a training centre and a supply shop, allowing to store farming supply and to train the local farmers.
The training shall consist in quality improvement of the crop, cost reduction through optimised use of chemicals (with a long term goal to avoid the use of chemicals in farming) and growing alternative kinds of rice (including deep rice cultivation for a third annual crop in the flooded fields).
Consultants from Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) and other organisations hired by KCD shall carry out the training of the villagers.
The project shall ultimately lead to
- better marketing conditions for the rice
- increased knowledge and optimized use of pesticides and fertilisers resulting in reduced costs and reduced health damages of the farmers
- increased food security in the community by providing a reliable supply of rice
- access to an affordable supply of farming products
- in the middle term, introduction of rice cultivation methods that are free of chemicals, taking in account environmental and health issues
The members of the PCD will also acquire knowledge allowing them to deal better with the Vietnamese suppliers and traders, as well in the neighbouring country as in Prek Chrey commune. This is an important point for the peace work of KCD, as it shall improve the quality of relationship between communities on this side and on the other side of the border.