Cambodia: Floating the Future

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Name of project: Environmental Education for children and adults in three floating villages on the Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia

Organisation: OSMOSE

Country : Cambodia

Organisational type: Non-governmental organisation (national)
                                Non-governmental organisation (international)

Year in which it was started: 2000

Brief description:
Osmose Environmental Education program covers:

  • 3 floating villages located on the Tonle Sap lake: Prek Toal, Kbal Taol and Peak Kantel,
  • 1 600 families living in these 3 villages,
  • 1 300 children between 6 and 14 years old.

The project started in 2000 in Prek Toal and in 2004 in Kbal Taol and Peak Kantel. It is a long-term project.

The Tonle Sap great lake is a priceless natural heritage as it is:

  • the largest lake in South-East Asia (SEA),
  • the largest “flooded forest” habitat in SEA,
  • one of the world’s top freshwater fisheries,
  • the largest waterbird colonies in SEA,
  • one of the world’s largest snake harvests.

70% of Cambodian’s protein comes from the Tonle Sap lake. The lake is critical for the food security of 4 millions of people in Cambodia.
It is therefore crucial to protect the lake and its natural resources. And this starts with Environmental Education of the population.

Purposes of the project:

  • To raise environmental awareness among the children and the adults populations,
  • To give access to education to out-of-school children,
  • To protect the environment and Tonle Sap lake natural resources,
  • To protect waterbird colonies and other wildlife on the lake,
  • To ensure sustainable livelihood to the villagers.


  • Environmental Education is one of the most efficient and less expensive ways to raise environmental awareness among people and to change their behaviours.
  • This has been confirmed by many Sustainable Development specialists.
  • The children learn easily and quickly and they feel concerned by their environment and the wildlife.
  • By teaching them environmental awareness when they are young, there is a good chance that they will have a responsible and environment-friendly behaviour in the future, and that they will influence their parents' behaviour.

Principal target groups covered by the project:
Adult learners
Children (from 5 to 15 years)
General public
Government officials
Indigenous people
Non-governmental organisations
Primary and secondary school children
Primary and secondary school teachers

Main education and communication methods used:
Small group discussions or workshops
Classroom presentations
Extra-curricular activities inside schools
Youth camps
Posters and other display materials
Mobile video screenings
Print media outreach
TV and video media
Other (please specify): Theatre shows

What is exceptional or unique about this ESD initiative:

  • The Tonle Sap lake is critical for the survival and the food security of 4 millions of Cambodian people. Several threats endanger it: decrease of fish resources, loss of flooded forest, overexploitation of wildlife, and growing pollution.
  • To ensure its protection, and therefore a sustainable livelihood for the people, it is urgent to carry out environmental education towards the whole population and government agencies.
  • Environmental Education is one of the most efficient and less expensive ways to raise environmental awareness among people and to change their behaviours.
  • Osmose has progressively built an innovative integrated approach linking conservation, environmental education, poverty reduction and improvement of the livelihood of the people.
  • Osmose developed a step-by-step pilot project within the fishermen community. So far, the success of the project is due to a strong relationship with the community, an action/reflection process, and a small but dedicated local team.
  • Three teachers are based in each of the three villages, in connection with a coordination team of two Cambodian persons based in Siem Reap.
  • Osmose has a limited budget. We therefore always look for cost effectiveness.
  • Osmose Environmental Education program last since 2000 in Prek Toal. By interviewing the villagers and the villages' chiefs we can tell that the mentalities and behaviors have changed.
  • In 2003 communities from Kbal Taol and Peak Kantel invited Osmose to implement its environmental education program. This was a great recognition of the work carried out by Osmose.
  • The program could be easily replicated in other places in Cambodia or in other countries.

Visually interesting places, people or activities/events that can be filmed in this project:
First of all, the Tonle Sap lake and the way life is organised on water in the floating villages are both beautiful and fascinating. They are very interesting for filming.
The bird sanctuary has been classified by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve in 1997. It is the refuge of thousands of birds, the largest bird colonies in South-East Asia.
Most of the activities carried out by Osmose within its Environmental Education program are visually interesting:

  • indoor classes with groups of 20 children in Osmose schools in the three floating villages,
  • outdoor activities conducted with the children and the community: birdwatching, waste collection, trees plantation,
  • theatre classes and theatre shows held in the floating villages for the whole community,
  • movies shown in the villages for the whole community,
  • study tours in Siem Reap with groups of 20 to 30 students,
  • trainings organized in the villages with Osmose teachers,
  • workshops conducted with other NGO and government officials on educational material,
  • distribution of educational material.