"I TRY TO UNITE ALL THE STAKEHOLDERS IN EACH COMMUNITY BECAUSE SOMETIMES THEY DON'T TAKE ACTION BECAUSE SOMETIMES THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO TALK TOGETHER AND WORK TOGETHER." -SOPHAL SEA
Imagine, for a moment, that you live in a floating home on a lake. You rely on the lake for personal and professional needs–water for gardening, drinking, and cooking, as well as fish to eat and fish to sell to support your family. This has been your family’s way of life for generations. But now you begin to notice a decrease in fish that is met with an increase in trash coming from the local river. What can you do to fight the trash invasion?
For many, living this way is hard to imagine. But for Sarin Roeun, it is the reality for his family who have lived on Tonlé Sap Lake in Cambodia for generations. To preserve his family’s traditions and reliance on the lake, he is turning his efforts toward education. Through his tourism company, Community First: Kompong Khleang Tours, and his school sponsorship, Roeun is educating tourists and local students alike on the importance of sustainability and river health.
A Fight for Clarity
The Tonlé Sap is the lifeblood of Cambodia’s economy. And in order for it to sustain Cambodians the way is has for generations, they must combat the growing trash problem. NGO2 BambooShoot and its director, Sophal Sea, is organizing cleanups, workshops, and festivals to inform community members about the harms of single-use plastic to the environment.
Beyond education, the organization is also continuing to troubleshoot how to get plastic and other types of waste out of the lake and developing innovative ways to properly dispose of waste in the lake communities in the Siem Reap area.
Mekong River and Tonlé Sap
The confluence of the Mekong River and Tonlé Sap, located in the heart of Cambodia, is a remarkable natural phenomenon that exemplifies the intricate relationship between these two vital water bodies. Here, the mighty Mekong River, one of Southeast Asia's longest and most important waterways, merges with the expansive Tonlé Sap Lake, forming a unique and dynamic ecosystem. During the dry season, the Tonlé Sap River flows gently into the Mekong, contributing to its already substantial volume. However, when the monsoon rains arrive, the Tonlé Sap River reverses its course, swelling in size and flooding the adjacent floodplains, thereby temporarily increasing the size of the lake. This annual inundation plays a crucial role in supporting the region's biodiversity and sustains the livelihoods of countless Cambodian communities reliant on the lake's resources. The confluence of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap is not only a geographical point but a dynamic meeting of forces, essential to the ecological and cultural fabric of Cambodia.
Cambodians rely on the lake
connect to Tonlé Sap
170 floating villages
on Tonlé Sap