South East Asia & Pacific
2Way Development works in 3 countries in South East Asia and the Pacific region – Cambodia, Vietnam and Fiji. Vietnam is a new country for us in 2013 and partnerships there are still developing. We have been working in Cambodia and Fiji for over 9 years and Cambodia is where we have the highest number of partners in any one country.
The Kingdom of Cambodia is a small, vibrant and colorful country. Its capital, Phnom Penh, is full of character and charm. The streets are bustling from morning till night, with motorbikes and tuk tuks weaving through the smallest of spaces. Endless markets offer the perfect place to pick up silks and trinkets, with food stalls littering the streets serving anything from noodles and soups to beetles and tarantulas!
Environment & Culture
Cambodia has something to offer everyone; to the South of the Capital are rainforests and white sandy beaches. To the North, Angkor Wat, a complex of temples that were built in the twelfth century. The mountainous region of Mundulkiri in the North-East offers the chance of a cooling retreat. And let’s not forget Battambang with its laid back life style and vibrant arts scene. The Cambodian people are extremely warm and welcoming. Traditional styles of dance, architecture and sculpture have been influenced by cultures in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and the French colonisers. Religion and modern-day globalisation have all contributed to producing what we know as Cambodia today.
Unfortunately Cambodia has had a troubled past. The last half century has been anything but stable and prosperous for ordinary Cambodians. As the large Cold War powers, the United States, the USSR and China, vied for its support, Cambodia became embroiled in the Vietnam War. In 1975 Cambodia was taken over by the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, led by the dictator Pol Pot and the country’s political stagnation and underdevelopment worsened dramatically. Considering the impact of this lengthy period of violence and instability Cambodia has undergone a remarkable transformation over the last 30 years, but it still faces enormous social, political and economic problems.
Education & Human Rights
Cambodia has had to rebuild its education systems, which were left in ruins by the Khmer Rouge. Financial investment in education and a human resource base has increased but Cambodia is still some way behind neighboring countries in terms of developmental factors such as literacy rate. Furthermore, Cambodia has enormous problems with social issues such as the trafficking of women and children, who are often forced into prostitution and general migration away from rural areas, which puts pressure on the urban economy to provide work for a rapidly increasing population.
Surrounded by a vast expanse of ocean, the Pacific islands are home to unique ecosystems, a huge variety of marine life and strong, traditional cultures. The natural environment of the islands offers amazing opportunities for tourism, with stunning barrier reefs, dramatic mountainous scenery and untouched landscapes. The cultural heritage of the islands is strong: many people still live relatively traditional lives and rely on their deep environmental and cultural knowledge.
Despite the picture-postcard views though, the region faces significant development challenges in the economic, social, environmental and governance sectors. Efforts are being made to increase trade and economic development, as well as spread the benefits of education and improved healthcare to often-remote communities, but there is still much work to be done in this area. In the environmental sector, the fragile nature of the ecosystems and habitats means that preservation of natural resources and sustainable development is imperative. The island’s natural fragility is highlighted by the challenge of climate change: rising sea levels and an unpredictable climate will have a disproportionate effect on the poor and those on low-lying islands. In addition, many Pacific Islands experienced colonisation by European powers; the legacy of colonisation has left some states with uncertain governance arrangements and challenges to overcome in ensuring that the Pacific Islands are inclusive societies with respect for human rights.
2Way Development in South East Asia & the Pacific
The Asia and Pacific region faces significant challenges in the twenty-first century and 2Way Development volunteers have provided, and will continue to provide, support to many organisations tackling these issues. In the region we have active partners in: