Water user group [Cambodia]

ក្រុមប្រើប្រាស់ទឹក (Khmer)

approaches_2595 - Cambodia

Completeness: 89%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Approach

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:

Pith Khonhel

Local Agriculture Research and Extension Centre LAREC


SLM specialist:

Bin Sreytouch

Society for Community Development in Cambodia SOFDEC

SLM specialist:

Khun Lean Hak /



Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Approach (if relevant)
Society for Community Development in Cambodia (SOFDEC) - Cambodia
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Approach (if relevant)
Local Agricultural Research and Extension Centre (LAREC) - Cambodia

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

When were the data compiled (in the field)?


The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Reference(s) to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Technologies

2. Description of the SLM Approach

2.1 Short description of the Approach

A water user group, led by a committee staff, decides about the distribution of the water during the dry season to plant dry season rice.

2.2 Detailed description of the Approach

Detailed description of the Approach:

Aims / objectives: During the Pol Pot regime, a dam was built to catch and store water from a temporary stream to irrigate rice during the dry season. The dam degraded over time, therefore it was repaired by a NGO to provide water for the cultivation of dry season rice. To manage it, a water user group was formed. The aim of this water user group is to have a fair distribution of the water hold by the dam among the farmers located downstream. The water user group is led by an elected committee staff of 5 members, who are the direct contact persons for the individual farmers and village chiefs, as well as for the provincial department of hydrology.

Methods: A former local NGO, PRASAC (now a microfinance institute), which repaired the dam and gates, organised a meeting with the three concerned villages to elect a committee responsible for the management of the water. The committee, consisting of a chief, a vice-chief, a secretary and an accounting, and two managers of the gates (each responsible for one gate) is responsible for the fair distribution of the water. The chief is the contact person for the village chiefs or the farmers themselves, who can request water. He is the contact person for the provincial department of hydrology as well.

Stages of implementation: The water user group was elected in 2002, when the dam was fixed. A short training was given to the committee which was then left on its own for the management. After tensions that occurred between farmers, the committee asked for advice in the provincial department of hydrology, which was passed off to CDRI (Cambodia Development Resource Institute), a local NGO. The CDRI conducted meetings and acted as a mediator, since then no tensions occurred anymore between water users as they introduced weekly schedules.

Role of stakeholders: The chief and vice chief are responsible for the distribution of the water. The two gate managers are controlling the gates.

2.3 Photos of the Approach

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Approach has been applied



Region/ State/ Province:

Kampong Chhnang

Further specification of location:

Toeuk Phos


A bit more than 100 ha are irrigated under this approach.

2.6 Dates of initiation and termination of the Approach

Indicate year of initiation:


Year of termination (if Approach is no longer applied):


2.7 Type of Approach

  • project/ programme based

2.8 Main aims/ objectives of the Approach

The Approach focused on SLM only

A fair distribution of water among the farmers, to produce rice during the dry season as well.

The SLM Approach addressed the following problems: The approach was designed to avoid conflicts on the use of water resources, and to allow rice production during the dry season.

2.9 Conditions enabling or hindering implementation of the Technology/ Technologies applied under the Approach

availability/ access to financial resources and services
  • hindering

The staff works on a voluntary basis.

Treatment through the SLM Approach: The gate managers catch fish at the gates while releasing water which provides an income. The chief records the water levels behind the dam for the provincial department of hydrology, which provides an income to him.

legal framework (land tenure, land and water use rights)
  • hindering

Conflicts between farmers about water use. The lower villages did not get enough water.

Treatment through the SLM Approach: A NGO, CDRI, acted as a mediator in the conflict. Since then no more tensions occurred as they introduced weekly schedules.

The existing land ownership, land use rights / water rights hindered a little the approach implementation Before there was open access to water, but no water was available since the dam was broken. Now there is water, but it is regulated.

3. Participation and roles of stakeholders involved

3.1 Stakeholders involved in the Approach and their roles

  • local land users/ local communities

Villagers and village chiefs

The operation of the water gates needs a strong physical condition. The literacy of women is lower than the one of men. Only male staff.

Poor people were also involved, and use the water.

  • SLM specialists/ agricultural advisers
  • NGO

PRASAC implemented the water user group.

  • national government (planners, decision-makers)

Provincial department of hydrology

3.2 Involvement of local land users/ local communities in the different phases of the Approach
Involvement of local land users/ local communities Specify who was involved and describe activities
initiation/ motivation none
planning none
implementation passive The committee was elected, and acts until today.
monitoring/ evaluation none
Research none

3.3 Flow chart (if available)


Organogram of the different stakeholders in the water user group in Toeuk Phos.


Stefan Graf (Centre for Development and Environment)

3.4 Decision-making on the selection of SLM Technology/ Technologies

Specify who decided on the selection of the Technology/ Technologies to be implemented:
  • SLM specialists alone

The former NGO, PRASAC, fixed the dam that was constructed during the Pol Pot regime. The farmers had to be persuaded to plant dry season rice.

Decisions on the method of implementing the SLM Technology were made by by SLM specialists alone (top-down). The NGO decided that the water user group should be managed that way, organised an election and the same staff works since then.

4. Technical support, capacity building, and knowledge management

4.1 Capacity building/ training

Was training provided to land users/ other stakeholders?


Specify who was trained:
  • land users
  • field staff/ advisers
Form of training:
  • on-the-job
  • demonstration areas
Subjects covered:

Growing of dry season rice. The Provincial Dept. of Agriculture rented 100 ha and planted dry season rice. Since then the farmers plant it by themselves.

The staff was trained to work alone managing the water gates.

4.2 Advisory service

Do land users have access to an advisory service?


Specify whether advisory service is provided:
  • at permanent centres
Describe/ comments:

In case the chief is confronted with a problem, he approaches the Provincial Department of Agriculture. The chief is then either redirected to a NGO or gets help by the Provincial Department of Agriculture.

Advisory service is inadequate to ensure the continuation of land conservation activities; The committee staff provides the water for free, the maintenance costs have to be financed by the provincial dept. of hydrology. PRASAC provided a financial reserve for the maintenance somewhere in the government, but neither the water user group chief nor the secretary/accountant know where this account is.

4.3 Institution strengthening (organizational development)

Have institutions been established or strengthened through the Approach?
  • no

4.4 Monitoring and evaluation

Is monitoring and evaluation part of the Approach?



Bio-physical aspects were regular monitored by project staff through measurements; indicators: Water level is monitored daily by committee chief, data reported to provincial dept. of hydrology.
There were few changes in the Approach as a result of monitoring and evaluation: Weekly schedules were established to avoid conflicts between villages. CDRI was working as a mediator.
There were no changes in the Technology as a result of monitoring and evaluation

4.5 Research

Was research part of the Approach?


5. Financing and external material support

5.1 Annual budget for the SLM component of the Approach

Comments (e.g. main sources of funding/ major donors):

Approach costs were met by the following donors: national non-government (PRASAC): 100.0%; local community / land user(s) (Staff consists of volunteers )

5.2 Financial/ material support provided to land users

Did land users receive financial/ material support for implementing the Technology/ Technologies?


5.3 Subsidies for specific inputs (including labour)

  • infrastructure
Specify which inputs were subsidised To which extent Specify subsidies
Dam and gates fully financed
If labour by land users was a substantial input, was it:
  • voluntary

the water user group staff works for free.

5.4 Credit

Was credit provided under the Approach for SLM activities?


6. Impact analysis and concluding statements

6.1 Impacts of the Approach

Did the Approach help land users to implement and maintain SLM Technologies?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

They are able to produce food during the whole year, with up to 3 rice harvests a year on the same fields.

Did the Approach empower socially and economically disadvantaged groups?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Landless farmers have more work, as 3 rice harvests are produced per year.

Did the Approach improve issues of land tenure/ user rights that hindered implementation of SLM Technologies?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

According to the committee chief, no more tensions occur now.

Did other land users / projects adopt the Approach?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

A fourth village joined the water user group.

Did the Approach lead to improved livelihoods / human well-being?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

The technology (the dam with gates) helped. But it would not work without the approach. It improved the food production, thus food security, and the livelihoods of the farmers.

Did the Approach help to alleviate poverty?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

It helped to alleviate poverty among the farmers owning land in the irrigated areas as they can produce more.

6.2 Main motivation of land users to implement SLM

  • increased production

Three harvests instead of only one.

  • well-being and livelihoods improvement

Three harvests instead of only one.

6.3 Sustainability of Approach activities

Can the land users sustain what has been implemented through the Approach (without external support)?
  • uncertain
If no or uncertain, specify and comment:

It is unclear what would happen if the dam needs maintenance but the provincial dept. of hydrology would not be willing to pay the maintenance costs.

6.4 Strengths/ advantages of the Approach

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Improved livelihoods, three times more rice production
and water vegetables as well as fish during the whole year.
No pumps are needed.
Farmers help each other with the water. (How to sustain/ enhance this strength: Regular meetings. )

6.5 Weaknesses/ disadvantages of the Approach and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
There is no money for maintenance activities.
Nobody wants to work as committee staff as they don’t get any salary for this work.
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
No regular elections, nor bottom up improvements.
Everything comes from outside.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys
  • interviews with land users

Links and modules

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