Collaborative Management for Watershed and Ecosystem Service Protection and Rehabilitation (CoWES)

Project summary

 At a commune level meeting on 06 Oct 2017/ Photo: UNDP Cambodia

Land degradation is a serious issue in Cambodia. Land degradation which is manifested primarily in the form of soil erosion and loss of soil fertility induced by both natural and anthropogenic causes.

This project is designed to reduce pressures on upland watershed areas from competing land uses by demonstrating collaborative management and rehabilitation of agriculture lands and forest areas through promoting a sustainable land management and stabilizing watershed catchment functions in a priority degraded area, Upper Prek Thnot watershed in Kampong Speu Province.

Key expected results

The project aims to deliver three components:

  • On-farm soil conservation and agro-forestry practices improved;
  • Community forest areas restored and sustainably managed; and
  • Watershed management and monitoring capacity improved in the Upper Prek Thnot. 

Main activities:

  • Introduce sustainable land and water management in agriculture production areas
  • Pilot agro-forestry in project areas of the two upper basin districts to assist development of productive gardens of diverse, perennial crop/tree species
  • Strengthening sustainable models for community-based forest management
  • Identification and provision for sustainable livelihood development
  • Capacity-building for forest protection and law enforcement to key stakeholders
  • Review and develop case studies and good practices in watershed management
  • Support a detailed local ecosystem valuation study to inform land use planning

Contributing donors



Total budget
Donor name Amount contributed per year
GEF USD$    1,100,917
Government USD$    240,000
UNDP USD$    150,000

Project background

Land degradation is a serious issue in Cambodia posing a direct threat to food and water security since it affects agriculture productivity and water retention capacity of watersheds. It is linked with deforestation and forest degradation, and exacerbated by climate change perpetuating increased vulnerability to climate related risks in turn. Recent satellite imagery confirms that forest cover reduced from 71% in 1973 to 50% in 2014. Land degradation is a direct threat to food and water security since it affects agriculture productivity and water retention capacity of watersheds.

The Royal Government of Cambodia’s (RGC) primary response to land degradation is encapsulated in a draft National Action Plan to Combat Land Degradation (NAP) 2017 to 2026.

Under the umbrella of the Global Environment Facility (GEF)’s ‘Greater Mekong Sub-Region Forests and Biodiversity Program’ (GMS-FBP) regional program, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) initially proposed a project with ADB processed assistance. On June 23, 2016, ADB submitted the proposal for transfer of IA to GEF CO, then GEF CO approved the project transfer UNDP as a new implementing agency July 21, 2016.

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