Julie & Andrew's Volunteer Placements

Hello everybody,

How's it going? Thanks for all your correspondence, emailed photos and even nice cadeaux sent over here once in a while. We are thinking about you and hoping that even more of you will come visit us and SE Asia! Hope you liked our recent blog photos - thanks Julie. Julie-sweetie is our photographer extraordinaire over here and without her we would not have so many great pics.

Well, we've promised for a long time to tell you more about our placements. Here is a description of our official work placement roles and responsibilities (below). In another entry we'll write more about the successes and on-going challenges in our work. We also want to share our impressions about development work in general in Cambodia and in this region as well as experiences of other people which have been eye-opening for us and perhaps will be for some of you too. We've included a lot of info here - maybe too much information!? We promise the next blog entry will be more interesting info about our work. Anyway, some of you said you wanted details so here goes....

Unfortunately, pasting from Word into the blog has messed up the format.  We hope you can follow the text.  

VSO has placed us and several of our co-volunteers in government ministries participating in the Tonle Sap Environmental Management Project (TSEMP). The project involves several government ministries and depts, NGOs, Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), and the people living on and around the lake. One could argue they should be first in the order. Side note: The great lake is the source of 70-80% of Cambodia's protein!

The overall aim of TSEMP is sustainable management and conservation of natural resources and biodiversity in the Tonle Sap Basin. The objective of the project is to enhance systems and develop the capacity for resource management coordination and planning, community based natural resource management, and biodiversity conservation in the Basin.

Three components are identified to achieve the project objective and to substantially contribute to the project goal:

Component 1: Strengthening natural resource management coordination and planning for the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve (TSBR)

    • Establishment of a coordination framework and information dissemination mechanisms
    • Mapping of the TSBR
    • Development of policy, legislation and management planning

Component 2: Organizing communities for natural resource management in the TSBR

    • Establishment of an implementation structure
    • Empowerment of fishing communities to manage fishery resources
    • Review of technical packages in support of sustainable livelihoods

Component 3: Building management capacity for biodiversity conservation in the TSBR

    • Enhancement of staff capacity for protected area management
    • Establishment of management and monitoring systems
    • Implementation of environmental education

Although my placement description (below) is longer than Julie's, she is usually busier than the rest of us TSEMP volunteers (for reasons we will explain later) most weeks working outside of regular hours.

Julie's placement: Natural Resource Management Adviser, Dept of Fisheries Administration (FiA), Project Implementation Office (PIO). Julie's work is mostly within Component 2 (above).

Official tasks and activities:

1) PIO planning, monitoring and evaluation:

Assist with detailed quarterly workplans and budgets, monthly workplans, contracts, and proposals

2) Development, dissemination and maintenance activities for community fisheries organizations and PIU staff

3) Coordination between the PIO, FAO, Project Support Office and the PIUs

4) Coordination with VSO professionals located around the lake

5) Assist with developing training courses and materials for community fisheries organizations

6) Prepare and give presentations regarding on-going PIO activities at the monthly TSEMP meetings

7) Provide support for fieldwork when needed

8) Provide support to PIO office staff in the preparation of reports, in the translation of reports between Khmer and English


Duties and responsibilities:

1) Working closely with international consultants and VSOs on TSEMP administration and assisting in maintaining coordination with 5 provincial implementation units around the lake through the provincial volunteers

2) Building lasting capacity and support the preparation of detailed work plans and budgets for Tonle Sap Lake provincial field operations

3) Supporting the development of "best-practice" guidelines, systems, and procedures for community fisheries development and natural resource management


Andrew's placement: Adviser, Ministry of the Environment (MoE), Provincial Implementation Units (PIUs) Kompong Thom and Siem Reap and Project Implementation Office (PIO). Andrew works a bit within Component 1 but mostly with Component 3 (above).

Roles and responsibilities:


o Assist with planning and implementation of activities of the PIUs

o Provide support for fieldwork involving observation, measurements and dialogue at the community level

o Provide support in analysis of data, and in drawing conclusions from field observations and data

o Provide support in preparation of reports, in translation of reports between Khmer and English, and in compilation of data and information for use in a comprehensive assessment of conditions on the lake and support of an environmental database, education and awareness activities

o Support design and application of relevant awareness raising and environmental education materials


Capacity Building

o Assist in capacity building for natural resources management through transfer of on-the-job skills

o Highlight and articulate environmental issues related to the Tonle Sap Lake, which may concern biophysical environment, livelihoods and security, and values re. nature/biodiversity and cultural/historical

o Identify and highlight other areas where environmental assessment can be usefully applied within the present project to highlight issues that are important to the community, such as public health, sanitation and waste management

o Provide support in training in English skills on an ad hoc basis, mainly through a close working relationship with staff

o Assist in provision of other forms of in-house training for staff



o Work closely and communicate often with the Project Director and PIO and PIU heads concerning activities and opportunities to enhance productive work

o Develop linkages among the working units of the project, inclusive FiA, MoE and TSBR office to assist in integrating project activities

o Provide support for community organization, conflict resolution, impact monitoring and evaluation as defined by the Project Director

o Support the interface b/w government, NGOs, consultants engaged through sub-project packages and with the UNDP GEF to assist in building good working relationships

Next blog entry: some interesting stuff about our work (Promise!).....


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Finally, some new Photos!!

Hi Everyone!!

We hope everyone is doing well back home.  Sorry we havent been able to post our newest photos to our web blog, but our web blog has been experiencing problems lately AGAIN and we havent been able to post our photos properly.  Its  also difficult since we cannot do any posting of photos from home, all has to be done at the internet shop around the corner which is not high speed internet!! Ugh!!!! Anyhow, we are now able to copy and post our photos to our web blog using a different site for our photos (flickr.com), so please enjoy our latest photos below.  We've posted a few photos of our house in Phnom Penh and some photos from our April trip to Laos. 

After getting back from our wonderful trip to Laos in April, work has been quite busy for both Andrew and I.  Please see the April blog entry for additional information re: our trip to Laos.  Recently, Andrew has been travelling around the great lake (Tonle Sap) a lot, and has been visiting the biosphere core areas on the lake with his co-workers and international consultants working for the Ministry of Environment.  In addition, Andrew has been helping to coordinate the quarterly VSO Livelihoods Worskshop for all VSO Professionals working in Cambodia.  Andrew has been part of the workshop committee along with myself and another Volunteer (Chris from England).  The VSO livelihoods workshop will be held for 3 days in Battambang, approximately 5 hours northwest of Phnom Penh from May 23-25th.  We will have various speakers at the workshop discussing their VSO placements and we will be visiting local communities involved in alternative livelihoods activities.  Should be fun!!

I (Julie) have been quite busy with work as well.  I recently helped a fellow Philippino VSO (Albert) organize, plan and run a workshop for 5 community fisheries organizations.  We held the workshop in Battambang with provincial government officials (working for the Department of Fisheries) to train local communities plan and write their natural resource management plans.   The training went well, we had over 50 community fisheries members attend our three day training along with various NGOs and other government officials. Of course, Albert and I had to have Khmer interpreters at the workshop since our Khmer is not that good to do the workshop on our own !!! I have also been working with another VSO Professional (Rachel from England) to develop a tool for assessing and prioritizing community fisheries organizations for alternative livelihoods opportunities as part of our Tonle Sap Environmental Management Project (TSEMP).  Rachel and I have been giving a lot of presentations at our monthly TSEMP meetings for this task!! As you can tell, Andrew and I have been quite busy lately!!

Enjoy the photos!!


Andrew on our front porch!!

Our Kitchen. Notice the gas cyclinder in the house!!

Our living room.

Our bathroom.

Our master bedroom.

Our dining area.

Our main hallway.

Another photo of our balcony.

Vientiane, Capital City in Laos.  Notice whose photo is on the Russian made motorcycle!!

Vientiane, Laos.

Vientiane, Laos.

Laos most famous Wat (please see previous web blog for its description!!!)

Water Festival (Laos New Year), Luang Prabang, Laos.  Everyone gets soaked!!

Mekong River, near Luang Prabang, Laos.

Mekong River Cruise, near Luang Prabang, Laos.

Miss Luang Prabang, Laos New Year Parade.  Luang Prabang, Laos.

Laos New Year Parade, Luang Prabang.

Laos New Year Parade, Luang Prabang.

Relaxing on our Kayak on the Nam Ou River (near Luang Prabang).

Close up shot!!!

Nam Ou River, near Luang Prabang.

Green snake (poisonous??) we found on the trail while visitiing hill tribe villages in Laos.

Mountain hillside, cut and burned by local hill tribes for slash and burn agriculture, near Luang Prabang.

Hmong Hill Tribe Village (approx 6,000 ft elevation), notice the satellite dish!!!

Andrew, Julie and Natasha (Canadian traveller we met in Laos) at Khuang Si waterfall.

Khuang Si Waterfall, near Luang Prabang.

Khuang Si Waterfall.

Landscape outside Luang Brabang, Laos.

More landscape shots near Luang Prabang!!!

Luang Prabang, Laos

Main street, Luang Prabang. Laos.

River view from our balcony, Luang Prabang.

Evening view from our balcony, Luang Prabang.

Elephant used for logging, Luang Prabang.

National Museum, Luang Prabang.

Wat, Luang Prabang. Laos.

Another Wat in Luang Prabang, please see previous blog entry for more information!!

Nagas, inside Wat, Luang Prabang.

More Wats in Luang Prabang!!

Entrance to Wat, Luang Prabang.

Wat, Luang Prabang.

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