Trailblazer Cambodia Organization (TCO) is a local non-governmental, non-profit organization registered with the Ministry of the Interior on August 18th, 2008. However, the bylaw was updated on February 14th, 2020. It is governed and led by a group of Cambodian Agriculture and Rural Development specialists from Siem Reap Province. Board members, fundraisers, advisors, the management team, and staff have experience working with fisheries, development, chemical-free agriculture, livestock, natural resource management, education and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sectors. This promotes community-based natural resource management, as well as to helps targets groups’ gains become self-sustaining. TCO seeks out additional support for vulnerable groups, such as women and children, who are often marginalized in traditional development systems. Operationally, TCO focuses on knowledge dissemination and creating sustainable, local development models that can be successfully replicated in other areas. Functioning locally, rather than nationally, may seem low impact, but makes sense in the political and developmental context. As such, TCO is committed to alleviating poverty in the rural areas of Cambodia and improving the quality of life of Cambodian villagers and their families by coordinating with all stakeholders including government line agencies, NGOs, and relevant stakeholders at all levels. Currently, we have 30 members of staffs including 15 females working in in Siem Reap province and Kampong Thom province. Moreover, we experience working with partners, NGOs, CSOs in Cambodia in the implementation of both humanitarian and development projects. TCO is a variety of networks, such as CFN (Cambodia Fisheries Network), Non-government organization Coordination Network-Siem Reap (NCN-SR), Cambodian Organic Agriculture Association (COrAA), Gender And Development Network (GADNet), Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance (SUN SCA), and Siem Reap Education Sector Team (SEST).
From its beginning in 2008, TCO has been adamant in improving the livelihoods of rural Cambodians. This is a crucial matter for a country where 80% of the population is considered rural and 20.8% of those exist below Cambodia’s poverty line (3.1% above the national average) according to the World Bank (2014). Although poverty rates have been decreasing over the past 20 years, the repercussions of many decades’ violent conflict will continue to plague development for years to come. Cambodia has a wealth of natural resources at its disposal, including fertile farmland and tropical forests, but large portions of these are currently being over-utilized and may become depleted without adequate safeguards. Additionally, a growing income disparity between the urban and rural populations has developed, causing concern for the livelihoods of farmers. This is compounded by a population boom, as currently 63% of the population falls between 15 and 30 (World Bank, 2014). So far, the population of Cambodia amounted to 1.6 million, whose life expectancy existed of 71 for females and 67 for males. GDP growth rate has been stable at 7% for the last 3 years and continue for 2018 and 2019.
Due to the above factors, there is currently a great need for development programs which both improve farmers’ production yields and reduce the toll this takes on natural resource reserves. TCO has aimed to give rural farmers the means to do both, as well as improve their quality of life, by operating on a community level. TCO’s projects focus on community development of rural farming villages through agricultural training and guidance, the setting up of livestock and savings groups, enhancement of opportunities for vulnerable groups (including women, the disabled, and at-risk children), and economic diversification. These programs are completed in partnership with organizations such as Rotary International and WorldFish Center, UNDP, ESB, EFF, SNM, APDARA, USAID EU/IFAD, AFD, APDARA, AQUACAM, DEFIP, ASPIRE, CAST and generous individual donors.