The Bunong Indigenous Peoples Can Predict the Climate Change Through their daily livelihood,

Mondulkiri is one of the four north-east provinces of Cambodia. It is one of the largest provinces in Cambodia (14,682 km2), but with the least population (some 56,000 people). The ethnic Bunong consists of the majority (52.24per cent), while the rest being lowland and other ethnic groups (Try et al. 2009).

The province is known for its rich natural resources, with large areas of forests and conservation areas. However,recent years have witnessed rapid changes in the province’s landscape as a major part of the land has been converted into economic land concessions, mining and large scale agroforestry plantations. The Bunong people who live in the province for centuries are often blamed for causing forest fires and forest degradation.

The Bunong have long practiced traditional farming and used forest to support their livelihood and cultural system. They are mostly animist, believing in powerful spirits that inhabit a wide range of natural objects or sites. Many ceremonies are observed to ensure good relationships with these spirits, including sacrifices and libations.

Their main farming activity is non-irrigated shifting cultivation (Miir) of upland rice and other crops. Forest is burned before cultivation and ceremonies are performed before and after the farm is cleared. This type of slash and burn, when it allows sufficient time in-between for the forest and ecosystem to regenerate, is not considered destructive to the natural environment (Maclnnes 2007).

As their agricultural practices depend largely on natural environment, the Bunong people have developed their own ways of predicting natural phenomena, borrowing wisdoms of the fellow wildlife which habituate the same forest – such as the Bengal Monitor, King Cobra, Long Ant, and Wild Rooster (see Bourdier 2009).

The Bunong believe that there will be drought when a King Cobra lays eggs close to a stream. If the tails of young Bengal Monitors are whiter around April before the onset of the wet season, then that means there will drought during the upcoming supposedly wet season.

CONTENTS 275 E-Discussion on Climate Change and Human Development

When more black colour is observed in Bengal Monitors’ tails in the months of April and May, then the Bunong people would predict more rain, which may possibly lead to flooding. In some parts of Mondulkiri, locations of the nests of Long Ants are also believed to indicate possibility of floods: the higher on a tree and the further away from water they build their nests, the more likely that there will be flood. Similarly, when Wild Roosters lay their eggs on tree stumps or other higher ground and not directly on the ground, then you can expect a flood will come (*).

People also learned to observe behaviours of rains, dry spells and air flows. When a long (2-3 weeks) drought in otherwise normally wet season, followed by continuous rains with wind for 4-10 days, then they would expect a lot of insects would come to annoy them, taking their crops away.

2011 Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility (IPAF) Call for Proposals

2011 Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility (IPAF) Call for Proposals

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)  is inviting indigenous peoples’ organizations and communities, and organizations that work with them, to apply for grants that fund projects and partnerships to promote the development of indigenous peoples and their unique cultural identity.

Grants ranging from US$20,000 to US$50,000 will be awarded to applicants from IFAD’s developing Member States through the Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility (IPAF).

You can find more information on application requirements and an application form at

The closing date for applications is 31 August 2011. IFAD will not accept applications after that date.

UNESCO/Keizo Obuchi Research Fellowships Programme 2012

Dear All CIYA members and partners,

UNESCO/Keizo Obuchi Research Fellowships Programme 2012 (UNESCO/Japan Young Researchers’ Fellowship programme)

Please go to the link of fellowship announcement concerning this programme where all the terms and conditions of the programme are spelled out.

The deadline for submission of candidatures is on 13 January 2012.

Best regards,

Pheap Sochea, President of CIYA

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation call for Fellowship Application,

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Call for Fellowship Application,

In May of this year we selected 14 prospective leaders from 13
different countries in the second round of the Alexander von Humboldt
Foundation’s International Climate Protection Fellowships. The eight
women and six men, who will start working on their projects together
with their academic hosts in September, specialise in areas ranging
from agricultural economics and botany to solar energy use and
political economics. We are delighted about this diversity, both in
terms of geography and contents, and hope to attract equally
interesting and high-quality applications in the third call that has
now opened.

Your support in publicising this programme would be extremely valuable
as you may know of suitable candidates from abroad, or hosts
potentially interested in cooperating with dedicated young leaders. We
should, therefore, be very grateful if you would draw their attention
to the fellowship and the opportunities it offers.

Each year, up to twenty International Climate Protection Fellowships
are awarded to prospective leaders from threshold or developing
countries who are working on questions of climate protection and
resource conservation in academia, business, government or
nongovernmental organisations. They come to Germany for a year to
conduct a project dedicated to the sharing of knowledge, methods and
techniques together with a host. This encourages the creation of a
network in which German and foreign experts collaborate on a
sustainable, international basis to develop solutions for climate
change and its global consequences. The fellowships are funded under
the Federal Environment Ministry’s (BMU) International Climate
Protection Initiative.

Attached you will find a brief description of the programme with
information on eligibility requirements and fellowship benefits, which
you are welcome to forward or print out and disseminate at your
institute or organisation. This brief information is also available in
Spanish and Portuguese and can be downloaded from

Applications may be submitted immediately. The closing date is 15
December 2011. The fellows will take up their fellowship in September
2012. Please note that anyone who has already received sponsorship
from the Humboldt Foundation in the form of a fellowship or award is
not entitled to apply for this fellowship.
Visit for information on the programme
and the online application package. If you have any questions about
this programme, please contact us directly via

Many thanks for your support and best wishes,

Enno Aufderheide
Secretary General
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Indigenous Peoples Call for Donors to Support the IP Day Celebration

We Indigenous Peoples of Cambodia call for Support the 17th Celebration in the Global and 7th in Cambodia for International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples.

The main objective is “to enhance indigenous people’s rights through public recognition and to raise people’s general awareness of indigenous people’s culture and issues in the Kingdom of Cambodia.”

This year, we proposed to celebrate this event within three provinces–Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, and Sihanouk with the proposed budget about US$ 50,000.00. However, so far we can only raise fund in small amount. Therefore we need more fund to fulfill this shortfall.

In this matter, we are pleased to announce this request to your institutions for consideration and for your further information about the IP Day, (please click there). We also would like to ask for your response as soon as convenient for you.

Sincerely yours,
On behalf of Organizing Committee (IRAM, OPKC, HA, and CIYA),
Pheap Sochea

Indigenous Peoples Call for Addressing their issues related to land and natural resources!

The Right of Indigenous Peoples to Consultation and Participation in the Development Process

Closing statement of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum

25-26 November, 2010

Phnom Penh

Today marks an extraordinary occasion as Cambodian indigenous people have demonstrated the capacity to organize this Indigenous Peoples’ forum with participants from 20 different ethnic groups (Kuoy, Bunong, Kreung, Jarai, Kraol, Stieng, Thmoun, Tumpuon, Mil, Khaonh, P’ong, Por, Suoy, S’Och, Praov, Kavet, Kachok, Lun, Rode and other groups) from 15 provinces.

To date, our peoples have established and managed two organizations, named the Highlanders Association and the Organization to Promote Kuoy Culture, a network named Indigenous Rights Active Members, and an association named the Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association.

Through this two-day forum we have identified challenges and problems that our indigenous peoples continue to face. On behalf of all the Cambodian indigenous people in our communities, we would like to call attention to the following issues:

1. Lack of implementation of the law in indigenous areas by the Royal Government:

  • Compensation to indigenous people who are affected by companies’ development projects is insufficient and is not made in a timely or transparent manner.
  • There are delays in registration of community forests, identification of indigenous people, registration of indigenous communities as legal entities, and registration of indigenous communities’ collective land;
  • Enforcement of the Forestry Law and Land Law is inadequate and dissemination of the laws has not been sufficient;
  • The government does not regularly and closely monitor the activities of investment companies that harm indigenous peoples;
  • Promises to resolve issues faced by indigenous communities are not realized and little attention is paid to resolution of land disputes within indigenous communities.

2. Problems faced by indigenous communities face in consultations:

  • In general, indigenous communities are not consulted, informed or involved in designing development programs, especially in the granting of land concessions and licenses for mining exploration;
  • Some local authorities do not consult with communities before submitting commune development plans or other plans for development projects to the Royal Government;
  • Local authorities do not give indigenous women full rights to participate in consultations and do not encourage them to participate;
  • Local authorities often intimidate indigenous people when they try to express their opinions or do not pay attention to us;
  • In some areas, there are cases of human rights violations and intimidation of indigenous people during consultations; sometimes armed forces have even intervened;
  • There is a lack of full involvement of and consultation with indigenous peoples when establishing policies and laws that relate to indigenous peoples’ development;
  • The processes of formal registration, such as registration of community forests, collective land title, and legal entity status, as well as identification of indigenous people are complicated, difficult to follow, and usually are not appropriate for the indigenous context;
  • The process of consultation by investment companies is always difficult and there is no support from the government to enable a participatory consultation with both men and women;

In response to these issues, we make the following requests for full involvement and consultation:

  • Information be shared, thorough consultation should be carried out with indigenous people, and indigenous peoples’ consent should be sought before land concessions are granted in indigenous areas;
  • Indigenous peoples must be consulted with regard to designing national policies that affect us;
  • There must be no intimidation of any community representatives or community members for expressing their opinions during the consultation process – especially consultation on economic land concessions and mining exploration;
  • There should be consultations on the issue of compensation to those affected by investment companies, with equal and transparent participation of community members, developers and the government;
  • The government should reduce the size of or cease to grant economic land concessions until collective land titling has been carried out and all issues regarding the granting of land concessions have been resolved for indigenous peoples;
  • The government should fully support communities with regards to the media and support broad public coverage of issues facing indigenous communities.

As indigenous people who face challenges and whose communities are being affected by development projects, we would like to publicly request that the Royal Government of Cambodia take into consideration our above-mentioned issues and implement our requests to bring about effective mechanisms to ensure full rights and sustainable livelihoods for indigenous peoples like those being enjoyed by the rest of the population.

Thank you.


CIYA was established by a group of Cambodian Indigenous Students in Phnom Penh in 2005 and was officially recognized by the Royal Government of Cambodia in 2008 with support from EWMI. It is the first organization established for indigenous youth and the third indigenous organization established in Cambodia. The original purpose of the development of CIYA was to mobilize indigenous youth  as a strong group in which the members could help  support each other by acting as a social network in the city, as well as to build their capacity towards working as  indigenous community development workers in the future. As the number of indigenous students in Phnom Penh increase, the members of CIYA also increase which also expands out to the provinces, particularly in North and Northeast Cambodia.  CIYA has more than 100 members, approximately 30 of which   are involved in all CIYA activities and the remainders are based and work in the provincial areas.

From 2009, with the support of the Heinrich Böll Foundation (HBF), CIYA was granted an office work area and a strong operation unit to support to the association programs and its members. International and national consultants have been recruited to help this new organization develop its own strategies with full participation from its members and partner organization, such as the NGO Forum, CLEC, UNDP, ILO, ICSO, MVI, VFC, etc. In 2010, HBF has provided a small grant to support the core fund of the organization as well as some field activities such as, providing awareness raising on legislatives related to indigenous community people livelihood including land and forestry laws to the community people in their village through the community dialogue, conduct surveys to gather statistics of the indigenous youths, especially the youths at schools, documentation of the custom and traditions of the indigenous people. HBF has also provided support to build the capacity of the operation unit of the association including organization of the full assembly, build up the management system of staff, administration and finance.

This year, the association has two source of fund are HBF and McKnight Foundation in the amount about US$ 40,000.00 for implementing its core programmes–(i) Communication Component, (ii) Community Support and Youth Networking Component, and (iii) Education Support Component.

Slideshow of CIYA picture__2006-2011

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