Community Development through Sustainable Livelihoods and Collective Savings


In Cambodia, high levels of poverty, low education and lack of employment options result in the over-dependence and degradation of the natural environment. Rural communities require opportunities to generate environmentally sustainable incomes to increase their standard of living.

The 'Community Development through Sustainable Livelihoods and Collective Savings' project aims to promote sustainable livelihoods to reduce poverty through the strengthening of existing Self-Help Groups (SHG) and SHG Federations in ten villages in Trapeang Roung commune (Koh Kong province) and Phat Sanday commune (Kampong Thom province). A SHG is a small, autonomous community collective that comes together voluntarily to work for their mutual personal, social and economic development. The SHG presents a vehicle for social and personal development within each village including awareness raising activities on topics such as literacy, education, family planning, health, sanitation, livelihood options and environmental awareness.

A key function of a SHG is the establishment of a ‘Savings Club’ in which community members pool their savings. The funds can then be drawn upon by members as small ‘loans’ to establish community-based micro-enterprises.

The project supports local SHGs to transform, institutionalise and form regional Federations which function as micro-finance institutions. The Federations will manage and operate micro-finance businesses and manage the loans. The Federations will also manage children’s clubs, which provide after school tuition on a range of topics including environmental education, sanitation and hygiene, dance, waste management and gender equality. Students will also be supported with reading, numeracy and writing. Specialist training will be provided to teachers.

This project builds on previous Live & Learn work in which it conducted a feasibility study into eco-san toilets as a potential small business opportunity. Live & Learn has experience with an innovative, integrated sanitation and agriculture technique which solves the problem of human waste through eco-san toilets which are linked to biodigesters and biogas as alternative energy sources. This system also includes the use of treated human and pig waste as fertiliser for dry season and floating gardens.

Through these diverse measures the project is assisting local communities to generate collective finance and develop economic opportunities to increase their living standard and overall wellbeing.