Vocational, Character and Performance Training (Project)
ODOV desires to build on the successes of the past, while diversifying the kinds of training available to women and men in the districts. It aims to do so through the founding of a Cosmetics/Hairdressing program (which is expected to garner interest from mostly young women). Furthermore, the Sewing and Tailoring Program has historically served mostly young women and there is now a desire to target skills training for more male students in the district. This will be approached through the founding of a Small-Electronics Repair Program (which is expected to garner interest from mostly young men). Finally, there is an acknowledgment that success measures of the vocational training program should have an increased scope, focusing not only on raw skills that will transfer directly to a specific trade, but also to empower young Cambodians through the teaching of ‘soft,’ performance skills. This will equip students to be life-long learners, problem-solvers, and ultimately increase their confidence and ability to succeed in further educational endeavors and/or secure employment in a variety of sectors. This goal will be targeted through each of the 3 training programs. By increasing the scope and depth of the Vocational Training Program, students will be empowered, increasing the self-efficacy, confidence, and dignity for themselves and their families. Graduates of the program will be encouraged to start their own businesses with the skills that they acquire OR explore avenues for further educational opportunities or alternative employment, that do not necessitate migration.
Improved Household Food Security Project (IHFSP)
The Improved Household Food Security Project (IHFSP) is taking place in seven communes in the Mesang and Kampong Trabaek Districts of Prey Veng Province, Cambodia. The overall goal of the IHFSP is the strengthening of Agriculture Cooperatives to sustainably address issues of food insecurity, malnutrition, and inadequate livelihoods among Poor 1 and Poor 2 households in Prey Veng province.
The gap between the rich and poor in Cambodia is significant and ever increasing. ODOV’s vision is to address this disparity through improving the livelihoods, food security, and nutrition of vulnerable farmers (Poor 1 or Poor 2) as they are the most susceptible to the impacts of events such as climate change, changes in the market, and potential crises. ODOV will identify households in the Poor 1 or Poor 2 categories and invite those families to participate in the project. The households that will be invited to participate are those that have not yet received any support from ODOV including existing Village Bank or Cooperative members, new members to either entity, or isolated households that have been left out of the development process.
ODOV also maintains a balance of men and women in the leadership of Agriculture Cooperatives. By ensuring that women are participating in training, leadership, and the opportunity to make financial decisions ODOV is empowering them to be equal members in the community. One of the sources of domestic violence is financial stress which ODOV intends to address through livelihood improvement activities. Since women will be participating equally in the project they will have a greater level of financial independence reducing a root cause of conflict. Gender mainstreaming will be included in training sessions, as well as field visits will be an opportunity to observe whether the behavior of household members has changed.
The Main Focus Areas of the IHFSP:
A) Training in Sustainable Agriculture Practices
All farmers will receive the same training during the first year. Nutrition training, including nutritious food preparation training, will be a component of training sessions. Households will receive the inputs necessary, such as vegetable seeds, watering cans, fish fingerlings, chicks, materials for chicken shelters etc. to implement their learning. Local Agriculture Cooperatives will be in charge of procurement and distribution of inputs as well collecting the return of input costs. Agriculture Cooperatives will receive coaching from ODOV staff in the proper creation of contracts, management of input distribution, record keeping of input repayment from target households, and other necessary skills.
This project is also designed to encourage farmers, with existing fish ponds to dig their ponds deeper, or for farmers to dig new ponds, ensuring that water is retained for longer periods of time. When farmers have a fish pond they can access water to raise vegetables and fish or water for their livestock necessary to support their families. Further technical support will be provided by ODOV through the organization of learning forums, held every three months, where target households are able to meet and discuss challenges, successes, and learn from other households as well as the staff at ODOV.
B) Increasing Volume of Agriculture Production and Sales
Individual production and selling may negatively affect the price of the product as the farmer lacks a collective voice in setting an appropriate selling price. The producer may also be unable to meet the quantity and quality demands of the buyer. ODOV has seen the opportunity for farmers to increase production and sales through forming producer groups. Once producer groups have been formed from interested farmers training will be provided in marketing for producer group leaders. The group leader will play a role in networking with buyers, share information about the demands for specific agriculture products, and the price of agricultural goods. ODOV will assist producer groups with the development of production and marketing plans. ODOV will also provide assistance in networking between producer groups and interested middlemen that want to buy the groups’ products.
C) Capacity Development of Agriculture Cooperative Leadership and ODOV staff
ODOV will conduct several different training sessions designed to improve leadership capacity resulting in self-sustaining well-functioning Cooperatives. ODOV staff will attend the Agriculture Cooperative monthly meetings as observers and provide feed-back as required. Annual Assemblies with members is a top priority and ODOV staff will coach leadership in how to properly facilitate and organize these gatherings. Annual Assemblies are the spaces where leadership is chosen, shares are determined, Cooperative business decisions are made, and all other big decisions are discussed thus it is important that leadership has the capacity to run the Assemblies properly. Cooperative growth is dependent on members participating fully, this occurs when members have a complete understanding of the bylaws, benefits, and activities of the Cooperative. ODOV will assist leadership in conducting promotional events for members. ODOV staff will also encourage Cooperative leaders to network with local government officials and the Ministry of Agriculture.